Homebuilding costs to rise to support ACT housing

By Gerv Tacadena

The ACT state government plans on imposing additional levies and charges on homebuilding to fund additional housing support workforce.

As part of its initiatives to boost the local housing market, the ACT state government plans on imposing additional levies and charges on homebuilding to fund additional housing support workforce.

In the 2019-20 state budget, ACT Chief Minister and Treasurer Andrew Barr announced the state will be delivering the much-needed additional staff to support building compliance and licensing, in the efforts to address the chronic delays in the state’s development approval system.

Greg Weller, Housing Industry Association executive director for the ACT, said that while he supports the government’s move, it is "disappointing" that the burden of improving the local housing market would fall on the homebuyers.

"It is disappointing that these services are being funded through new levies and charges that will ultimately be passed on to the public when they build a new home," he said, "The budget papers show that only 39% of development application decisions were made within the statutory timeframe during 2018-19, so the industry and community are entitled to ask what level of service will be guaranteed with these extra staff and extra costs?"

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Weller said the budget had stated revenues of $104m from land development and $23m from the lease variation charges, indicating how much the housing and construction industry contributes to the state's bottom line.

He believes the needed additional staff could be funded with these existing sources and not by imposing an increase in the building levy and planning application fees.

Despite these issues, Weller still commended the state for several initiatives that would help the housing market.

"The housing industry also welcomes the investment in the modernisation of the ACT land titles system and the future delivery of e-conveyancing, along with improvements to accessing online services through Access Canberra foreshadowed in the budget," he said.

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