Speaking at the National Regional Housing Summit, member of parliament for Deakin, Michael Sukkar, said an LNP leadership would “cut out state governments” to address the housing crisis.
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The summit, which was cohosted by the Regional Australia Institute, the Real Estate Institute of Australia, and Master Builders Australia, assembled some 200 guests at Canberra’s Old Parliament House and 100 more virtual attendees to tackle the complex housing supply shortage facing Australia’s regional areas.
In addition to local and state council members, federal government representatives that addressed the group included Housing Minister Julie Collins in a pre-recorded video, former housing minister and current shadow minister Michael Sukkar, and independent federal member for Indi, Helen Haines.
Stating that he wouldn’t go as far as making any policy announcements during the event, Mr Sukkar shared insight into his thinking on housing, which he said was “informing the policy process that’s already underway inside my party”.
Mr Sukkar noted that during his time in the majority as federal housing minister, it became “abundantly clear” to him in working with local governments that “every attempt of state government, particularly to take more responsibility from local governments, ends up working very badly, not just for communities, but also for fewer homes ultimately being delivered”.
“So what will inform our thinking in the lead up to the next election is how can we, within the constitutional constraints that we all know exist, work directly with local governments more and more to try and unlock sorts of infrastructure or capacity to build homes?” Mr Sukkar revealed.
He said the party is currently considering how to “reorient the infrastructure pipeline to unlock directly, not in a tangential way, but to directly unlock more housing supply in that context, in the spirit of working more closely with local governments, and, to be blunt, to try and cut out state governments where possible, within the constraints of the constitution”.
He characterised the types of projects that an LNP government might be able to support under this type of policy as “the sorts of infrastructure that doesn’t necessarily look exciting on a media release, but that, you know, is the enabling infrastructure that unlocks housing in this country”.
Mr Sukkar encouraged policymakers present for the discussion to consider what, in their jurisdictions, might fit within that framework.
“I would encourage everyone representing a local government in this room today, to think about the sorts of projects that you can approve with the lowest possible infrastructure spend, because it’ll be a very easy analysis for us: infrastructure dollars – how many homes does it unlock? In my view, a program like that can go a significant way towards addressing issues in rural and regional Australia” he said.
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Based in Sydney, Juliet Helmke has a broad range of reporting and editorial experience across the areas of business, technology, entertainment and the arts. She was formerly Senior Editor at The New York Observer.
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