Australia’s central bank chief believes making housing more affordable is the single biggest issue that would improve people’s welfare.

“The high cost of housing is for many people a huge detriment to their lifestyle, their budget and their family,” Philip Lowe told a parliamentary hearing on Friday.

“It should be a priority to make housing more affordable.”

Dr Lowe says it comes down to the supply of land and the need for zoning to be more flexible.

He also acknowledged taxation and financial levers like negative gearing played a role, noting the latter was a hotly contested policy area.

But Dr Lowe added it was not the reserve bank’s role to say how the taxation system should be designed to make housing more affordable.