Housing Futures Debate Needs Bipartisanship
23 February 2017 at 8:02 am
National housing affordability and homelessness needs to become a bipartisan issue for all levels of government and politics, according to the CEO of Link Housing in NSW Andrew McAnulty.
McAnulty will explore the need for bipartisanship at a affordable housing conference in Sydney on Friday.
He told Pro Bono News the conference was an opportunity to bring together decision makers, support providers, essential services and residents to identify what the future housing needs are, assess any potential roadblocks and devise effective solutions.
“One of the things the community housing sector and the not-for-profit sector can do is not let housing affordability drop off the agenda and not let it be skewed by politics,” McAnulty said.
“I think we have to try and make this a bipartisan issue because otherwise… like some other issues where one side of politics says it’s red and the other side of politics says it’s blue… there is just a divide. We need consensus on this issue. It is just too big an issue.
“I would almost like to see an ‘arms race’ although that would be the wrong analogy… but like everyone building more and doing more. We need to get a platform where the major parties say yes it has to happen. The difference between politics today should be about who’s doing more not someone saying the sky is going to fall in if we get a developer to deliver 5 per cent affordable housing out of 1,000 homes. The sky won’t fall in if we get 50 [homes that] are affordable.
He said the key message to state governments was about supply.
“There’s a lot of people saying it is about supply but what we are saying it is about segments of that supply as well. We are not going to resolve this issue by doubling supply. Because we have pretty much doubled the supply in the last five years. It’s about the proportion of that supply also increasing for targeted social housing as well as more market driven housing .
“In South Australia they have got a 15 per cent affordable housing target on government-owned land. In the ACT affordable housing is part of the core planning process. Other states are looking at this as well and some of them are doing it in different ways. There is an opportunity for NSW to lead here and actually take control of our own destiny.
“The new NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian is going in the right direction by making housing affordability a priority. The key is to make it bipartisan.”
He said one of the things that he has learnt from the UK, where he is originally from, is that it is bipartisan.
“People might want to deliver housing in a particular way depending on your political lens but everyone knows it’s a massive issue [in the UK] and it’s an important voter issue whereas in Australia it has not even been a talk fest and now we have just moved it onto the agenda for discussion… and now we need to nail it,” he said.
“Percentages don’t matter by degree. It’s about making sure the policy setting is agreed to by everyone so when the politics change – premiers, planning ministers or even prime ministers… it’s about how much you do not if you do it.
“In Australia at the moment it’s about if you do it. In the UK it’s about how much we do it and how fast we do it.”
Find out more about Friday’s conference here.