AHURI NEWS

AHURI conference explores new model for cities growth

Conference builds understanding of the interplay between cities policy, housing and the economy

30 June 2017

The AHURI conference Affordability and liveability in our cities, held in Melbourne on 29 June, attracted an audience of over 130 people from all tiers of government, private industry and housing providers keen to build an understanding of the interplay between cities policy, housing and the economy. Delegates heard about how Australia’s new City Deals present an opportunity to deliver national economic and social priorities, with outcomes that are specific to each individual city.

Assistant Minister for Cities and Digital Transformation, Hon Angus Taylor MP emphasised the role that the City Deals policy is having within government strategies for urban development and growth. 'The Western Sydney City Deal is the most ambitious of the City Deals in Australia… if we can get it to work then we can take it to other cities’, he said. 'A key strength of the City Deals model is that it establishes transparency and accountability across all three levels of government and industry’.

The Hon Tim Pallas MP, Treasurer of Victoria, praised the ‘interplay of ideas between Victoria and NSW housing policies.’ Treasurer Pallas also affirmed that an increase in the numbers of, and renewal of social housing stock in Victoria as priorities. The Victorian Government sees great opportunities with inclusionary zoning targets to develop social housing but Treasurer Pallas recognised ‘there must be an adequate value proposition for developers’.

Housing is essential economic infrastructure. It needs to be moved from the periphery to the core of economic discussion

Housing economist, Professor Rachel Ong ViforJ, Deputy Director of the Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre at Curtin University, presented findings from the newly completed AHURI Inquiry into housing policies, labour force participation and economic growth. ‘Housing is essential economic infrastructure. It needs to be moved from the periphery to the core of economic discussion’, said Professor Ong ViforJ. The research found that while growth of new housing supply in Australia’s cities has been in job rich areas these are also expensive locations out of reach for lower-income earners. Professor Ong ViforJ also identified that supply in high value housing segments is not trickling down to lower-priced housing.

Other speakers included Professor Duncan Maclennan who advocated for an integrated approach in policy-making that links housing and infrastructure development; Tim Williams, CEO of the Committee for Sydney, who expressed that ‘it is essential we grapple with NIMBYism’ and that larger units of government cooperation were needed to overcome it; while Ruth Spielman, Executive Officer of the National Growth Areas Alliance, highlighted that population is growing fastest in outer suburbs but Australia’s infrastructure priorities did not reflect this. ‘We need to stop funding inequality, reduce our over-reliance on CBDs and look in the other direction’, she said.

Presentation slides, video, and audio from the conference are available on the AHURI website.