Infrastructure budget does little for housing: Urban Taskforce

Infrastructure budget does little for housing: Urban Taskforce
Infrastructure budget does little for housing: Urban Taskforce


The major commitment to fund infrastructure, particularly for Sydney, in the NSW Budget will underpin the state’s growth.

The ongoing funding of major infrastructure by the NSW Government will future proof the state as the population grows.

The commitment to funding Metro West with $3 billion is an example of the forward thinking required to ensure Sydney grows in a sustainable manner.

This connection between the Harbour City and the River City of Parramatta will enhance both cities and generate significant development between the two cities

The allocation over the forward estimates of $8 billion to health infrastructure and $6 billion to schools infrastructure is a further support for the states strong growth.

The NSW Generation Fund (NGF) with $3 billion seed funds is a good way to plan ahead for Sydney's rapid growth.

The allocation of $27.5 million from the NGF for the ‘My Community Dividend’ is clearly a sweetener to communities to support growth. The funds will allow communities to vote for projects up to $200,000 that add value to their neighbourhood.

The Urban Taskforce, however, is concerned that last year's focus on housing affordability has not been repeated. Last year there was a strong commitment to the Premier’s priority to drive housing supply and the report by the former Governor of the Reserve Bank, Glenn Stevens, raised important issues about housing affordability and supply. We now have a slow-down in housing supply as evidenced by the budget's acknowledgement that $6 billion of income from stamp duty will be eliminated from the forward estimates.

Clearly the supply of housing is slowing down and we would have expected some actions in the budget to ensure a continuous supply of much needed housing. In particular a hold on the removal of the cap on council infrastructure levies would help the housing industry as would a hold on potential affordable housing levies by councils.

The recently announced NSW Productivity Commission is an opportunity to remove red tape from the planning system to help with housing affordability.

The funds allocated to Sydney's Third City in Western Sydney including the $439.4 million for infrastructure is positive as is the $258 million allocated to the Parramatta Light Rail project.

While the focus on infrastructure is the strength of this budget there does seem to be a missed opportunity to encourage Sydney communities to be part of the massive change that is occurring to the city's structure and form.

The Treasurer, Dominic Perrottet's speech titled 'Building for Tomorrow, Delivering for Today' sets the tone for the government's long term commitment to delivering essential infrastructure for the growth of the state. Many of the budget commitments help families including, increases to apprentice numbers, employing more teachers and health professionals and these are positive contributions.

The missing element is more support for new housing that is needed particularly in Sydney. The NSW planning system is still very complex and the delegation to councils to manage population growth is leading to an increase in community concerns about growth.

Overall this is a good budget for setting the framework for growth in urban areas of the state. The commitment to metro rail projects is the key to underpinning growth and the government deserves credit for driving this.

The Urban Taskforce is keen to work with the NSW government, including the NSW Productivity Commission, to find ways to help with housing supply and affordability particularly by reducing red tape in the planning system.

Chris Johnson is chief executive officer of property development industry group Urban Taskforce and can be contacted here.

Infrastructure Urban Taskforce

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