Senate Select singles out WA Housing Problem

The Opposition has come out in support of the preliminary findings of the study commissioned by the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (HURI) into the housing markets in a number of regional Australian towns.

The co-author of the study, Fiona McKenzie, suggested that the failure of the Government in addressing its responsibilities was largely to blame for the housing affordability and housing supply crisis in the Pilbara region.

In reference to the housing crisis in Karratha, where rental properties cost as much as $2500 a week, Professor McKenzie said that: ‘Karratha is a very good example of what happens when there’s no government leadership or minimal government leadership and government investment in a regional centre and it’s been well not a disaster, but it’s been pretty dire.’

However, the Minister for Planning and Infrastructure, Hon Alannah MacTiernan MLA, dismissed the findings of the report and challenged Professor McKenzie to allow the Government to contest the details of the report.

The Minister’s response drew criticism from the Shadow Minister for Housing and Works, John McGrath MLA.

“The Minister’s ready dismissal of the preliminary findings of this study, a study conducted in good faith, is an example of the arrogance of this Government,” Mr McGrath said.

“These findings echo the issues raised by the Senate Select Committee’s report on housing affordability and the Government should be shamed for dismissing the results so lightly.”

The Senate Select Committee on Housing Affordability released its report – A good house is hard to find: Housing affordability in Australia – on 16 June 2008. 

“The Select Committee painted an unflattering picture of the Carpenter Government’s ability to manage the WA’s resources boom, epitomised by the plight of the housing sector,” Mr McGrath said, “this has been reiterated by Professor McKenzie’s summary of the dire consequences that have resulted from Government inaction in Karratha, as published in the West Australian this week.

“The Carpenter Government has failed WA housing,” the Shadow Minister said,

“The reports confirm this and what the Liberal Party has long stated – the Carpenter Government has blown the boom.”

The Select Committee was given the task of investigating the “’barriers to home ownership in Australia’, including but not limited to:

  • state and territory taxes and levies;
  • the rate of release of land;
  • the role and effectiveness of first home assistance; and
  • the role of government intervention.

The issues contained in the Report are generally relevant to the housing crisis across all of Australia. The Report contains a total of 32 recommendations, of which the majority are applicable to ‘all state and territory governments’ and/or ‘the Australian government’. However, recommendations 8.1 through to 8.5 are aimed specifically at Western Australian issues.

“The Committee makes five recommendations that are specific to WA, no other state or territory is singled out in this way,” Mr McGrath said.

“The Senate Report has thrust the role of LandCorp into the spotlight.

“The Report raises questions about how LandCorp has managed the mining boom in the Pilbara region as well as recommending a review of the agency’s ‘commercial principles’.

“I am concerned that the housing and industrial needs of the State are not being met because LandCorp is distracted with or simply prioritising commercial aims and financial gains.”

“During Estimates I asked the Minister about LandCorp’s financial performance last financial year. I am yet to receive that information. This Report just confirms my concerns and there needs to be an extensive review conducted of LandCorp’s role.”

“Under Labor, a good, affordable house has become hard, if not impossible, to find.”

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