Q: What measures would you propose to create better land supply for increasing more private housing?
MS: First, we will lead by example. While the states have far greater land holdings which can be opened up for development, we are releasing suitable Commonwealth land, including Defence land, for private housing development.
The Commonwealth has announced the sale of the Bulimba Barracks, a 20-hectare site in Brisbane, which will unlock the development of up to 800 new dwellings, and we are also divesting 127 hectares of surplus Defence land in Maribyrnong, which, once remediated, is capable of sustaining the development of between 3000 and 6000 dwellings.
It is unacceptable that the supply of new housing is so badly constrained by planning and regulatory bottlenecks. As I have said, the federal government will use all possible levers to encourage states and territories to undertake this task, and since becoming Minister for Housing, we have demonstrated our willingness to support such actions.
For example, the federal government recently waived Tasmania’s historic public housing debt, totalling $230 million, as a result of the Tasmanian Government’s commitment to implement a state-wide planning scheme, which will unquestionably promote greater housing supply in Tasmania.
We are investing $1 billion in local infrastructure to unlock new housing supply, in partnership with local councils through the National Housing Infrastructure Facility. The Morrison Government is also tackling the impact of increasing population in congested cities and backing smaller cities and regions looking for greater growth to secure their economic future. We are reducing the cap on our migration program, building the infrastructure and delivering the services Australians need, and planning for more evenly distributed population growth.
These changes are focused on easing population pressures in our biggest cities, while ensuring regional communities are given a much needed boost.
Q: Housing is the second most heavily taxed sector of the economy. Has the government considered reducing the tax on housing to improve affordability for Australians?
MS: We agree that housing is very heavily taxed, and it may shock Australians to learn that the biggest cost to building a new dwelling is the state tax and regulatory cost component. At the state and territory level, residential property is subject to a number of other taxes that other investment vehicles are not, including land tax and stamp duty, one of the least efficient taxes in Australia’s tax system.
In fact, the Centre for International Economics’ modelling shows 50 per cent of the cost of a new house and land package in Sydney can be attributed to taxes and regulatory costs. Melbourne is estimated to be 37 per cent and Brisbane 32 per cent.
And, undoubtedly, it is the purchaser who absorbs the vast majority of these costs. While there is limited scope for the Commonwealth in this area, I will certainly be encouraging the states to do their bit to reduce the tax burden on buyers.