Master Builders CEO urges housing reform ahead of the budget. Image: Canva
  • Housing approvals are at a decade-low
  • MBA CEO Denita Wawn urges housing reform ahead of tomorrow's budget
  • Targeted spending needed to help alleviate housing crisis

At a time when communities are requiring more housing, building approvals are heading in the wrong direction, says Master Builders Australia CEO Denita Wawn.

“We can see the impact of rising interest rates in the homebuilding market, and without appropriate fiscal measures at a federal and state level, we will continue to see further softening in the housing pipeline,” Wawn said.

According to Wawn, home building over the first three months of 2023 are showing decade-low approvals.

Providing further corroboration of this trend, Master Builders Australia Chief Economist Shane Garrett said the total volume of new home building approvals was relatively flat at -0.1% in March compared with February, continuing a downward trend since September last year.

“Concerningly, the inflow of new work remains significantly lower compared with a year ago, having retreated by 17.3%,”

Shane Garrett, Master Builders Australia, Chief Economist

He added that new detached house building approvals weakened again by -2.9%, a 15% reduction from a year ago.

“While there was a small uptick in higher-density home building in March, it’s far too early to say whether this is the beginning of a much-needed recovery given multi-unit approvals are still at their lowest levels since 2012,” Garret said.

Wawn says the government has an opportunity in the budget to be fiscally responsible and take measures to alleviate the housing crisis.

“The budget needs to ensure that carefully targeted spending boosts productivity for business and allows for more favourable outcomes when it comes to the cost, quality and quantity of building and construction output,” she said.

Wawn expressed hope that the Senate would review yesterday’s data as they debate the Housing Australia Future Fund this week.

“Parliament has an opportunity to send the right signal and kick-start a vital piece of housing reform,” she said.

“We know some members of the crossbench are looking for more funding, and while that would be welcome, it cannot come at the expense of doing nothing at all as each month of building data heads in reverse.”

Wawn added that while there is no one size fits all solution to the housing crisis plaguing Australia, there is a multitude of levers that the federal, state and local governments can pull.

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