Statement from Deputy Mayor Cr Felicity Sinfield

The state government’s approach to the housing crisis is both disappointing and flawed. The need for additional housing is understood but any suggestion that setting housing targets will solve this challenge or even be an effective tool is misleading for several reasons.

First, the housing crisis is the result of poor planning policy by commonwealth and state governments over many years. The cost of government taxes, cost of borrowing for both developers and purchasers, the cost of building materials, shortage of skilled labour due to government projects, cost of living and immigration levels have created this crisis. These are matters for state and commonwealth governments, not local governments. The setting of housing targets does not address any of these fundamental causes.

Secondly, to release housing targets on the scale proposed (a 300% increase on the number of dwellings constructed each year to date in Boroondara) without making any commitment to the infrastructure required to support such exceptional growth is irresponsible planning. Our community has a right to such fundamentals as public open space, adequate drainage and sewage systems, education facilities, health services and transport networks. There is no analysis of this and no corresponding budget allocation over future years from the state. The government must be aware of the need for infrastructure planning given the experience of residents in growth areas, repeated over decades, who continue to have poor access to fundamental services.

Thirdly, housing targets do not produce housing. Developers do that. Councils cannot force developers to make planning applications for new development and Councils cannot force developers to build the housing for which they have approval. This is clearly evidenced by the thousands of dwellings which have approval across the state but are not being built.

If the state and commonwealth governments were to accept their roles in planning for adequate housing supply in this country, there would be a joint taskforce focused on the macro-economic factors required to stimulate supply and their respective budgets would allocate infrastructure funding required in long term financial plans. This will assist in ensuring quality neighbourhoods and living environments are created for our communities. Community wellbeing and sustainable housing supply should be our focus, not short term politically motivated measures designed to deflect responsibility.

We look forward to a more holistic approach.