Developers and local government clash over housing crisis

The Property Council of Australia has refuted a claim by the Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ) that developers’ ‘land banking’ was responsible for the current housing crisis, saying the LGAQ failed to consider “a whole raft of complex issues” affecting housing affordability.

“A faltering planning system, restricted land supply, a lack of infrastructure and poor administration of development application processes by some councils are all playing a part,” the council’s executive director Steven Greenwood said.

“The LGAQ’s stunning expenditure of tens of thousands of dollars of Queensland ratepayers’ money on research that ignores Local Government’s inefficiencies while blaming another sector does nothing to solve the problem of housing affordability,” Mr Greenwood said.

At the centre of the dispute is the LGAQ’s report, Breakdown of housing costs in south-east Queensland, which concluded developer profits accounted for 19 per cent of the cost of a new home.

Mr Greenwood said the report was largely silent on the fact that much so-called available land was not presently able to be developed either because of lack of infrastructure to support new communities, or environmental constraints.

“This is flat earth economics at its worst,” he said.

He also pointed out the local government’s inefficient planning process was a major contributor to the housing crisis, with some councils delaying and refusing applications in record numbers.

“The LGAQ ‘research’ is a narrow, ill-focused attempt at appearing to represent their members’ interests.

“That membership could quite rightly ask the LGAQ today why it is absent from the national debate,” Mr Greenwood said. 

LGAQ president Paul Bell hit back Mr Greenwood’s argument, saying the Property Council lacked proper research backing.

“Mr Greenwood has circulated Queensland councils suggesting the LGAQ is ‘absent’ from the housing affordability debate. Nothing could be further from the truth,” Cr Bell said.

He said the Property Council should commission its own independent research to refute the LGAQ’s figures, which he said were lauded by local councils and the media.

“Councils act in the best interests of their communities. The LGAQ is not a wealthy lobby, does not donate to political parties and does not spend money to sit next to government ministers at lunch.

“It’s difficult to escape a conclusion that developers, unwilling to subject their activities to independent research, are basically driven by profits and care little for community interests,” Cr Bell said.

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