Appoint a housing minister: federal inquiry

Politicians from the key political parties have demanded the creation of a dedicated housing ministry to help make property more affordable.

The final report of the Senate Economics References Committee’s affordable housing inquiry concluded that a housing minister was needed to provide leadership across portfolios and governments.

The committee wants the new portfolio to be located in a central agency such as Treasury or the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

Another option would be to place the ministry in the Department of Infrastructure so it has formal links to the government’s central agencies.

The parliamentary committee consisted of seven Labor MPs, five from the Coalition, two from the Greens and two independents.

The committee said governments at all levels have a responsibility to use policy interventions to improve the efficiency and affordability of the housing market, noting that housing is a particularly complex policy area that crosses portfolios and governments.

“As such, the current lack of a dedicated commonwealth housing minister is a matter of concern for the committee,” the report said.

The committee also argued that housing is more than just a social policy or welfare issue, and that greater emphasis needs to be given to the economic dimensions of policy settings.

“This is particularly true at the commonwealth level, where taxation and other broad economic settings have a fundamental influence on the housing market,” it said.

“Housing-specific policies, and policies that shape the housing market more broadly, have direct and in some cases profound effects on the life outcomes of Australians across the socio-economic spectrum and in all tenure types.”

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