Thursday, June 20, 2024

National Cabinet agrees to $500m housing support program for councils

National Cabinet yesterday agreed to an ambitious new national target to build 1.2 million new well-located homes over five years from 1 July 2024.

The pledge adds 200,000 new homes to the National Housing Accord target agreed by States and Territories last year.

The target will be supported by the Housing Support Program, a $500 million competitive funding program for local and state governments to kick-start housing supply in well-located areas through targeted activation payments for things like connecting essential services, amenities to support new housing development, or building planning capability.

“Connecting to sewerage, connecting to water, connecting to energy supplies. In short, upfront money to get housing moving quickly,” said Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese.

Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) President, Linda Scott said the new Program would support councils to build more liveable communities.

“We are delighted the Government has heard our call for more investment in vital infrastructure that will enable new housing developments,” said President Scott.

“We can’t fix the housing crisis by just building more homes – we have to invest in the amenities and local infrastructure necessary for strong, healthy communities.

“This new Housing Support Program will help Australia’s 537 local governments build the parks, footpaths, roads, sporting grounds and other local infrastructure that are vital for liveable communities.” 

President Scott also welcomed the announcement of further support for built environmental professionals, including local government planners.

“ALGA’s research shows there is a severe shortage of skilled planners in local government, and we need increased investment to facilitate streamlined housing approvals and strategic planning to identify new growth areas,” she said.

She said, however, ALGA was disappointed not to have played a role in National Cabinet deliberations in Brisbane yesterday.

“As a former voting member of COAG and a signatory to the Housing Accord, ALGA was disappointed not to be part of today’s National Cabinet deliberations, and looks forward to continuing discussions with National Cabinet to restore ALGA’s voting rights of this critical national intergovernmental forum.”

National Cabinet has also agreed to a National Planning Reform Blueprint with planning, zoning, land release and other measures to improve housing supply and affordability.

The Blueprint includes: updating state, regional, and local strategic plans to reflect housing supply targets; promoting medium and high-density housing in well-located areas close to existing public transport connections, amenities and employment; and streamlining approval pathways.

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