As the number of first homebuyers dropped to 17% of the market in May, Australia's leading residential and development groups have joined forces to tackle the housing affordability crisis head on.

Master Builders of Australia, the Residential Development Council of the Property Council of Australia, the Real Estate Institute of Australia and the Urban Development Institute are collectively calling on Australia's political leaders to address the growing housing issues nationwide.

President of the Real Estate Institute of Australia Graham Joyce said several factors had contributed to the housing affordability problem, including shrinking land supply, heavy taxes and a saturated rental market.

"We're now seeing very low vacancy rates right around Australia," said Joyce. "So there's a shortage of accommodation available for renters because the affordability issue is causing people to go into the rental market - or they stay in the rental market longer because they can't afford to buy a home. It puts enormous pressure on the rental market and we're now seeing significant rental increases right across the country."

The housing and development groups together hope to increase policy focus and public debate by evaluating government response on housing strategy, urban infrastructure, land provision and reducing the red tape around planning and development procedures.

"All the associations acknowledge that this is a real issue, so we thought that, to add weight to the argument and show the importance of the whole issue, we'd come together," said Joyce. "The federal government doesn't have a minister responsible for housing as such, so we're saying there should be a Ministerial Council and a minister to look after all of this and focus on it."

The Ministerial Council responsible for Urban Development, Housing and Housing Affordability - like the National Housing and Planning Advice Unit in the UK - would consult with industry and other key stakeholders at a national, state and local level.

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