Dwelling commencements fell sharply in the March 2012 quarter, with NSW leading the way with a 37.4 per cent plunge from December.
According to the Housing Industry Association (HIA), dwelling commencements have been declining since the middle of 2010 and are currently running at an annualised level of 122,492.
Seasonally adjusted, dwelling commencements fell by 12.6 per cent in the March 2012 quarter when compared to the December quarter – or 24.5 per cent on-year - reflecting a 7.7 per cent decline in detached houses and a larger 21.1 per cent drop in 'other dwellings', according to the latest Australia Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data.
Dwelling commencements fell by 37.4 per cent on-quarter in New South Wales, 8.3 per cent in Victoria, 4.8 per cent in Western Australia, 15.8 per cent in Tasmania, 0.4 per cent in the Northern Territory, and 41.2 per cent in the ACT. Seasonally adjusted dwelling commencements increased by 2.5 per cent in Queensland and by 0.6 per cent in South Australia.
“While poor weather conditions together with an especially weak quarter for New South Wales weighed on the results, eight consecutive quarters of trend decline would be there for all to see regardless,” HIA’s chief economist Harley Dale said.
"Excluding the new home building recession around the GST, this is the lowest level for dwelling commencements since the September quarter of 1996. Furthermore, it is a weaker outcome than was evident at any time during the GFC.”
"Carve through the current argy bargy about how strong or weak the Australian economy is and you find that new housing is unequivocally weak.
"That situation has significant implications for the wider domestic economy in 2012.
"Recent encouraging moves by some state governments notwithstanding, the continued deterioration in new housing supply is a poor indictment on Australia's policy makers.
"Investment and reform need to happen now and the lack of action is a conspicuous and damaging hole in Australia's policy focus."