CANBERRA, AAP – Australian governments are not giving enough thought to the housing sector’s impact on productivity and growth, a poll of the nation’s top economists and housing experts shows.
The UNSW City Futures Centre study, published on Monday, surveyed 47 leading economists and 40 senior government, industry and academic experts.
It found 84 per cent of respondents agreed too little attention had been paid by Australian governments into how housing outcomes also affect productivity and growth.
As public housing lists grew four per cent over the past year, 69 per cent of those surveyed thought stimulating housing was best done through social and affordable housing investment instead of the private market.
One in ten of the group agreed the federal government “rightly resisted calls for inclusion of social housing investment in its recovery stimulus package” as part of last year’s budget.
“The vast bulk of housing experts and economists surveyed are concerned that ongoing treasury dependence on ‘cheap money’ policy will further ratchet up house prices and widen the gap between rich and poor,” said Bill Randolph of the UNSW City Futures Research Centre.
“From a purely economic perspective, the informed expert view is that this will undermine productivity and economic growth.”
Professor Randolph said Australia’s social housing supply had effectively halved since the 1990s because of minimal construction over the past 25 years.
“Among the best ways to broaden Australia’s economic recovery strategy would be a large-scale national social housing program,” he said.
Homeless advocate Kate Colvin says a $7 billion investment would unlock $18 billion in economic expansion, creating 18,000 jobs in four years and making a “serious dent in homelessness”.
“Social housing can lift people out of poverty and put them on a path to prosperity,” the Everybody’s Home spokeswoman said.
“A better-balanced housing system is the right thing to do. It also happens to be the smart thing to do.”