Industry groups ask new Federal Housing Minister Brendan O’Connor for nationwide housing plan

The Housing Industry Association says it is looking forward to meeting with new Federal Housing Minister Brendan O’Connor to “discuss the many pressing policy areas that need to be addressed to revitalise the residential housing industry”. 

“Housing is a staple of life that drives both economic and social outcomes. Yet Australia is facing both a housing shortage and affordability challenge, which needs urgent attention.” says Graham Wolfe, chief executive of the HIA. 

O’Connor was named the new Minister for Housing and Homelessness as well as Small Business Minister as part of the cabinet reshuffle announced by Prime Minister Julia Gillard following her defeat of former foreign minister Kevin Rudd in the Labor Party leadership vote. 

The HIA welcomed O’Connor’s appointment as well as the combining of the two portfolios.

“The Australian housing industry is made up of around 85% small business,” says Wolfe. 

“By combining these two portfolios, Minister O’Connor has the unique opportunity to promote much needed policy initiatives and programs across small business and residential building. 

“It is also important that the housing portfolio has remained in cabinet, and it is likewise pleasing to see that small business has now been elevated to this level.” 

“The housing industry puts around 400,000 Australians into new homes every year and creates thousands of new jobs.” 

Lobby group Australians for Affordable Housing (AAH) also welcomed O’Connor’s appointment. 

It also applauded the move to retain the role of housing minister as a cabinet position. 

“This is recognition that housing is central to the wellbeing of every single Australian household and should be a concern for the highest levels of government,” says AAH campaign manager Sarah Toohey. 

“Housing is the biggest cost-of-living issue in Australia, and with one in 10 households in housing stress it is clear that our current housing system is failing too many people. 

“We need a national housing plan, to deliver affordable housing, right across the system, from public and community housing to home ownership. Retaining a single housing minister in cabinet is an excellent first step towards making sure the housing system works for everyone. 

“People in Minister O’Connor’s own electorate of Gorton, know too well the problem of housing affordability. Figures released by AAH late in 2011 show that the Local Government areas of Melton, Hume and Brimbank (which are either in or surround the seat of Gorton) are all in the top five areas of housing stress in Victoria,” says Toohey.

 

Larry Schlesinger

Larry Schlesinger

Larry Schlesinger was a property writer at Property Observer

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