Event: Alex Waldren interview with Kieran Gilbert, Sky News
Date: Monday, 29 May 2023, 2.35pm AEST
Speakers: Kieran Gilbert, host Sky News; Alex Waldren, Acting CEO and National Director Industry Policy Master Builders Australia
Kieran Gilbert, host Sky News: Let’s look at this other story out in the Australian Financial Review looking at the impact of the property market. Basically, wrong-headed decisions in planning by councils and state governments. Let’s get some analysis by the Master Builders Australia, the acting chief executive Alex Waldren. Alex, thanks for your time. What did you make of this report? I guess none of this in the AFR today would have surprised you.
Alex Waldren, Acting CEO and National Director Industry Policy Master Builders Australia: No, and it’s actually good to see it’s sort of coming out in the public debate. It’s been a long-running, long-standing issue, and getting some good facts out there to support, I think, conversations with planning ministers and housing ministers and the local government about how we take some action in this place on this side of the equation will be good.
Kieran: And so this basically is based on the former RBA economist Tony Richards who suggests there is too much red tape at the council level in terms of zoning and so on. How do we get around that because it seems like it’s a perennial problem? Red tape at councils and that sort of not in my backyard approach.
Alex: Yeah I’ve coined it as federation red tape. I think it’s the federation issues. Rubber hitting the road here and the need to take some action on this front. I think, it requires the maturity of all levels of government to take this issue seriously and say look let’s collectively work together here and bring about some change that can help ease the burden on the housing supply front and the cost of housing front. It’s a long-running issue. We’ve got forums now with planning ministers and housing ministers in play. The government is leading and hopefully, they can get some productive discussion going and some good outcomes here.
Kieran: One million homes in five years. That’s the goal. Tony Richards the former RBA official, he doesn’t think that’s ambitious, and it does not make up for the shortfall to this point. Is that your read?
Alex: Yes it’s not ambitious. It’s a steady as she goes figure. Traditionally we’ve said 200,000 homes a year is what’s needed to sustain demand and that’s what that accounts for essentially.
Kieran: So it’s not really playing catch-up?
Alex: It’s catch-up and meeting replacement need and population growth needs as well. It will have to ramp up over time because of the way population growth is moving quickly in the future. But we see that this is the baseline to get ahead.
Kieran: Contacts that I’ve spoken to in the industry say that the rate rises basically smashed their demand. It might not be showing up completely across the economy right now but construction in the residential space has really copped it.
Alex: Yeah. It’s factors of sort of rebuilding from COVID and then the interest rate rises on top of that knocking confidence I suppose and creating more risk I suppose for construction to move on forward. We see this as a short-term issue so we need governments and anybody in this space to get on and de-risk construction work and construction activity and that comes right back to planning, land release, planning requirements and better approaches to that.
Kieran: Acting chief executive at the Master Builders, Alex Waldren, great to see you.
Alex: Thanks, Kieran.
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