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Coalition housing industry policy will keeep industry fragmented, small and inefficient

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BH097/96 28 February 1996


A Coalition Government would be a disaster for one of our most important industry's -the housing industry - because of their failure to adopt a policy of urban renewal, growth and reform, Brian Howe, the Federal Housing and Regional Development Minister said today.

Speaking to a Housing Industry Association sponsored luncheon in Brisbane Mr Howe said Australia was now well on the way to developing a national housing industry that can compete effectively and innovatively in the international marketplace.

Mr Howe praised the Housing Industry Association which had recently set up an important research arm the Housing and Urban Development Council (HUD) to look at ways of achieving nationally coherent approaches to urban planning.

" The Federal Government's representative on HUD - Carrie Gibson, the Labor MR for Moreton - has been deeply involved with this important industry research body and has used it to strengthen the links between the industry and the Commonwealth.

" I expect that under the next Labor Government the co-operation and consultation that was established through the HIA will help us to expand the industry, retaining its nationally important role - and at the same time helping it move into the international arena.

" The Opposition has not shown it is interested in thinking big for this industry.

" In fact the Coalition policy released on Monday was one of think small," Mr Howe said.

" Howard in Government would keep the housing industry in its old form - fragmented, divided, lacking in skills training or government support," Mr Howe said.

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" Housing is one of Australia's most significant industries, contributing more than 5 per cent of GDP and more than $21 billion dollars are generated from the construction of new dwellings, alterations and additions.

" The Housing Industry is pushing for a strong national industry, a national approach to licensing and warranties and regulatory reform leading to a 'borderless market'.

" We are working with you and local councils to reform their approval processes and regulations which differ so widely; we are working with you and State governments to get uniform licensing and registration requirements.

" Federal Labor has worked closely with your industry to create a national, and efficient industry which can bring down prices for consumers and end the traditionally fragmented nature of the industry.

" A recent HIA survey showed that because of these problems with local government and State-regulations only 25 firms in the top 100 worked in rrrere than one State.

" So it must have been a disappointment when the Coalition policy for this industry was released in the last days of the election campaign — and the policy essentially said:'keep it small'.

" In all the areas where your industry could hope to expand into over the next decades, the door would be slammed in your face under a Coalition government.

" They put out a policy with no funding commitments.

" They are mixed up about their stance on superannuation for housing.

" They are not interested in Rent Assistance reforms.

" They have given no carrots to Local Government to get rid of regulatory constraints.

" They have done nothing for low income earners seeking affordable housing and nothing about Urban Renewal..

" In fact on Urban Renewal they have decided to abandon one of the vital new areas for the housing industry - the very successful Better Cities Program."


Andrew Casey, Brian Howe's office, phone: (06) 277 7680. 018 487 581