Falling building approvals demand reforms to protect jobs

A persistent decline in South Australian building approvals demands immediate reforms to stimulate the market and protect jobs across the industry, Master Builders SA says.

The trend estimate for the total number of private sector houses in South Australia fell 0.4% in April and has fallen for six months. 694 homes were approved in April, the lowest number since July last year.

Chief Executive Officer Ian Markos said Master Builders SA supported the Marshall Government’s proposed Productivity Commission and called for a review of all taxes and charges related to land and property development.

“The Marshall Government was elected on a platform of reducing red tape and improving business conditions in South Australia, and today’s data shows we need to go over the building sector with a fine-tooth comb to improve housing affordability.

“House prices are driven up by about 40 per cent by inefficient land release strategies, excessive development levies, taxes and charges, and excessive planning and building requirements.

“For example, South Australian building rules require that new dwellings and some extensions or alterations have an additional water supply to supplement mains water. When Queensland abolished this requirement in 2013, it was estimated the average home owner saved $7,000.

“We support consumer choice. We have no problem with rainwater tanks, we just don’t think they should be compulsory. People should have the freedom to make their own decisions based on their own budget, priorities and lifestyle.

“There would be nothing stopping anybody who wanted a rainwater tank from getting one, or installing one in the years ahead when it is more affordable. The most important thing is first homebuyers at least have the option of getting into their own home as cheaply as possible first.

“South Australia’s sluggish population growth also continues to be the elephant in the room. Victoria and Queensland, both population growth hotspots, continue to record strong numbers. In Victoria, the trend estimate for the total number of private sector houses approved rose 1.5% in April and has risen for 15 months, whilst Queensland recorded a 1.6% increase and has risen for four months.

“A stamp duty exemption for first homebuyers on new builds up to the median house price, similar to what was introduced in Victoria and New South Wales last year, is proven to work and an essential policy for South Australia’s future.”

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