Australia’s property industry has warned politicians to make wise decisions regarding the sector in 2019, after optimism in the industry hit its lowest point in more than five years.

An index measuring overall confidence within the property industry fell by three points in the past three months to 123 points, the latest quarterly ANZ/Property Council survey shows.

That’s the lowest result since September 2013 and marks a 15-point decline in the past 12 months.

South Australia had the highest confidence in the latest survey, with its index sitting at 144 points, followed by the ACT (130) and Western Australia (129).

Confidence in Victoria matched the national average, but was below average in NSW (119 points) and Queensland (118 points).

Property Council of Australia chief executive Ken Morrison says the industry is grappling with lenders tightening access to finance and softer work schedules ahead.

Political leaders must acknowledge these trends and support sensible policies that sustain and stimulate the industry, he said.

“It’s not the time to be making changes to policies which undermine certainty, confidence or incentives to invest in Australian property,” Mr Morrison said.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg used the latest figures to continue his attack on Labor’s proposed changes to housing investment tax breaks.

Labor wants to retain negative gearing only for newly built homes – with the policy grandfathered so the changes won’t apply to existing investors – and make changes to capital gains tax.

“This is bad policy from the Labor Party – policy that is designed to send the value of people’s homes down and to send the cost of rents up,” Mr Frydenberg told reporters in Melbourne on Thursday.

Shadow treasurer Chris Bowen said negative gearing was just one of Labor’s “important housing policies”, with others including its proposed national rental affordability scheme.

He’s confident if Labor wins the next election it would see a “high degree of confidence” from the property sector, which warmly welcomes the affordability measures.

“It’s good for construction, it’s good for rental affordability, it’s a well designed policy,” he told reporters in Canberra.