Event: Denita Wawn interview with Kieran Gilbert, Sky News
Date: Wednesday, 29 March 2023, 4.00pm AEDT
Speakers: Kieran Gilbert, host Sky News; Denita Wawn, CEO Master Builders Australia
Topics: Housing Australia Future Fund, migration
Kieran Gilbert, host Sky News: For more on this, I spoke a short time ago to the chief executive of Master Builders Australia, Denita Wawn where I began by asking Denita how damaging it would be if that Housing Future Fund doesn’t get over the line for the government.
Denita Wawn, CEO Master Builders Australia: Incredibly damaging. We are really disappointed with The Green’s stance on this. This is setting up the structure in place not only for the Housing Australia Future Fund but for Housing Australia. And it enables not only federal government investment in social and affordable housing, but it also provides greater opportunities for institutional investment in affordable housing as well. So we think it’s critical that this passes immediately, as quickly as possible. Of course, we are disappointed that we would like more money, but this is a fantastic start to an incredibly difficult problem that is growing by the day.
Kieran: Yep. On that point, The Greens argue it’s not enough. That the crisis is more urgent and requires more than the proposed $500 million a year. Do they have a point?
Denita: I think the point is that it’s a good start and it’s not the only component of resolving the solution. There are many moving parts to this. This is just one component of a very complex issue around housing shortages in this country. And it is critical that we get the infrastructure right to enable greater investment and more money to be put in by the federal government as well as institutional investors.
Kieran: On the migration surge, separate but related issue. 650,000 is the number in the next two years. How significant is the housing shortfall in that context?
Denita: It’s significant. We’ve already got a shortage. We know that we need to build every year for the next five years, we need to build at least 200,000 homes a year to meet population demand and we are going to fall about 50,000 short in the next financial year. So that is really significant. But equally, we can’t build quick enough at the moment because we simply do not have the trades and migration is part of that solution. So it’s a chicken and egg approach. It is why we need to focus on the government’s holistic approach to housing shortages which is not only around the Housing Australia Future Fund but it’s also around the Supply Council, the focus on where we are going to resolve those key planning constraints and lack of titled land to enable homes to be built.
Kieran: You touched on that perfect storm that not only do we need the additional homes to accommodate the larger migration number, we need the larger migration number for the workforce to build the homes.
Denita: That’s right. We’ve forecast that we need an additional 500,000 new entrants into building and construction alone by 2026 to meet the demands we need of workers in our industry.
Denita: 500,000 new entrants into the industry.
Denita: That is massive. Migration has to be a solution to that problem and that’s a chicken-and-egg problem we have. So we cannot sit still and we implore The Greens to pass this legislation as a starting point of resolving a massive problem in this country.
Kieran: Just finally, on that supply question you spoke about. The Housing Accord between federal and states, is this basically the federal government needing to urge the states and the states to get their planning ministers to use their powers to put the heat on councils to speed up approvals?
Denita: Absolutely. We’ve had huge problems in this country for decades around housing that are supply issues that are the direct jurisdiction of state and territory governments. It is around increased release of titled land, it’s around flexible planning.
Kieran: The NIMBY, the not in my backyard outlook.
Denita: Not in my backyard. We need to be looking at where we can build more medium-density homes, where we can build more high-density homes and where we can actually improve the liveability of all Australians. It is critical that the states and territories come on board and we applaud the federal government in signing that Housing Accord and holding the states and territories to account.
Kieran: CEO of Master Builders, Denita Wawn, thanks as always. Appreciate it.
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