The National Growth Areas Alliance (NGAA) wants to set the record straight in response to statements made by Chris Richardson on ABC’s Q&A program last night, stating that outer metro councils have already been saying “yes” and doing the heavy lifting on housing supply for the last 30 years. However, solving the current housing crisis is not the responsibility of local government alone.

Remarks from Chris Richardson, characterising decades of housing as a "stunning national fail" and placing the burden on "local councils to say yes" to increasing housing supply, have spurred the NGAA to bust persistent myths that local governments have been dragging the chain. “Councils in growth areas have been responsible for increasing housing supply for decades,” declares NGAA Chair Councillor Matthew Deeth.

NGAA member councils account for one fifth of Australia’s population but in 2022/23 they delivered 33% of national dwelling approvals (Source: Dwellings Approved, ABS). Planning and building approvals, however, are only part of the puzzle when it comes to housing supply because Local Government relies on others to construct the approved dwellings. In 2020/21, there were 201,081 dwellings approved nationally (32% from growth areas), but only 172,807 dwelling completions (Source: Dwellings Completions, ABS).  

In response to the discussion on Q&A, and the broader housing crisis, Matthew Deeth wants to emphasise that the solution to the housing crisis is multi-faceted, requiring strong leadership at the national level. While migration and a national settlement forecast are crucial levers, Deeth argues that it is insufficient without holding state governments accountable for delivering essential infrastructure and services.

"Housing is more than just a house," states Deeth. "It's about creating communities with reasonable access to employment, education, transport infrastructure, health services, and amenities. Without state governments guaranteeing minimum levels of infrastructure and services for new developments, local governments are left managing growing communities without the necessary support for a high quality of life."

In light of the recent Infrastructure Investment Program review, where several projects for NGAA member councils have been impacted, Deeth comments, "it seems that we are back to negotiating with state governments for projects that don't align with the Commonwealth's criteria but are vital to our residents and economies."

Deeth emphasises the importance of recognising growth area communities as a valuable asset for Australia's future. "Growth area communities are young, vibrant, multicultural, and ambitious — an incredibly underestimated asset for Australia’s future," he notes.

With growth areas home to 5.3 million people, constituting 20% of Australia's population and growing more than twice as fast as the rest of the nation, the NGAA calls for a comprehensive approach to address the housing crisis. It urges the Commonwealth to take a leadership role in coordinating efforts and ensuring that state governments fulfill their responsibilities in delivering housing, essential infrastructure, and vital services.


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