Leading the charge

Despite recent wins for the housing industry, HIA’s advocacy won’t stop with the election.


Simon Norris

It’s a real privilege to be able to take over this column from Pino Monaco, outgoing HIA National President. Pino served his two-year term with distinction and commitment. For me, his enthusiasm for training and apprentices, and evidence-based policy, were the hallmarks of his term. He led the National Board with incisive questioning and a down-to-earth strategy. 

In being elected as HIA’s National President I’m mindful of the responsibility placed in my hands: it’s a huge – if a little daunting – honour. I’m indebted to Pino and my National Policy Congress colleagues for the confidence they have shown in me.

HIA’s lobbying efforts prior to the federal election played a role in the rejection of proposed damaging changes to the taxation of rental investment; securing a federal Housing Minister; the deposit guarantee scheme for first home buyers; and the recognition that home own-ership is a national priority. But our efforts haven’t stopped with these outcomes. For example, the detail of how the deposit guarantee will work is something that HIA is working on to make sure that it achieves its goal of removing the need for expensive mortgage insurance. Freeing up the availability of housing finance more broadly is probably the highest short-term priority for our lobbying efforts.

Similarly, the programs that the new National Finance and Investment Corporation invest in could make long lasting improvements to the way the urban infrastructure that supports residential development is delivered and financed. There are innovative ways that this can be done that don’t saddle home buyers with the up-front infrastructure charges that unfortunately have become a feature of the home building landscape in all states and territories.


The policy priorities that I’ll be keen to prosecute include the gross inefficiencies in our planning systems around the country

Closer to the direct interest of HIA members who access HIA’s programs and services, I’m keen to enhance the strategy that HIA has been pursuing to make all of its services and products available to members in ways, and at times, that suit them best, whether that’s online, on weekends or over the phone. I’ll be working closely with my Board colleagues to make the significant investments that will be needed to support this goal.

In the longer term, the policy priorities that I’ll be keen to prosecute include the gross inefficiencies in our planning systems around the country, which have dogged me personally throughout my building and development career. Recent independent research sponsored by HIA shows that almost half of the cost of a new house and land package is made of taxes and other hidden costs – the largest of which is excessive planning delays. So, it’s certainly fertile ground for serious reform, and large potential benefits for home buyers and the industry.

It would be easy to despair about the federal, state and local government issues that HIA members confront every day that add to the cost of our homes and achieve little. But tackling these things is at the core of what HIA is about, and I’m looking forward to leading the charge during my term as President. 


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