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Call for commitment to housing

AS WA seeks to rebuild after the mining boom housing stands out as the industry to generate economic activity, take on trades and supply families with homes, says the Housing Industry Association.

The association’s executive director John Gelavis called on all parties to think carefully about how to support new home building in the next term of government.

In the lead up to the March 11 State Election the association’s president Dean O’Rourke said heading into the 2017 state election felt different to the 2013 election, which ran through a period of a buoyant economy with the housing industry growing to catch up with the high levels of migration that came with the booming mining sector.

Mr O’Rourke said record home building numbers followed with more than 31,000 homes built in WA in 2014-15.

“[But] 2017 looks a lot different,’’ he said.

“The fall-off in investment in the mining sector has seen population growth decline and the general economy take a tumble.

“The housing industry has not escaped – in 2015-16 home building numbers fell by nearly 20 per cent before what we hope was hitting the bottom in late 2016.

Mr O’Rourke said the industry was resilient and had reshaped to suit the changing economic conditions.

“But there are a few challenges that we have seen hamper our efforts in meeting the housing demands of Western Australians.

“Affordability has been and will continue to be the biggest challenge in home ownership.

“Yet there are so many processes and taxes applied to our industry that are simply inefficient.

“Stamp duty doubles up on infill developments and local governments operate independently requiring our industry to respond to varying interpretations of the same rules.

“On top of that, they all have various fees and charges that are applied without any consideration on the overall impact to the home buyer and the industry, when we are also juggling regulation and state government fees and levies.

“We fought to keep good tradespeople against the lure of the mining sector, but now as that sector has declined, we haven’t seen those who slipped away return.

“We faced significant skills shortages through that time, something that we all need to be preparing to avoid in the future.

“Supporting apprentices is crucial for keeping the housing industry healthy in the long term – the challenge is to keep up the training during the tougher times.’’

He said governments could do a lot to keep the housing industry healthy by addressing those key challenges.

“Supporting and implementing full private certification will prevent bottlenecks and reduce the burden of local government inconsistencies.

“The savings will be real for the consumer – a massive plus for affordability.

“Providing incentives for apprentices and support of our training organisations will make sure we are building the industry for the future.

“The Policy Imperatives HIA has developed look to address those areas that government can contribute towards improving – for the housing industry, consumers and the economy at large.’’

About Anita

Anita Mcinnes received a highly commended in the 2009 WA Media Awards suburban section for her reporting. Two of her sons were born at Swan District Hospital and for many years she was a partner in a small business, which operated in the Gingin-Muchea-Bullsbrook area. As a mature age student Anita studied journalism at Curtin University before working in Busselton, Dunsborough and Rockingham with West Regionals. She says the best part of her job is meeting eastern suburb residents and visiting the many attractions in the area.

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