Monday, December 9, 2013

National Housing Supply Council abolished (find its reports here)

Last month the Federal Government abolished a range of advisory committees, including the National Housing Supply Council.

The reason, according to the Prime Minister:

[The advisory committees'] activities are no longer needed or can be managed within existing departmental resources.

Many of these non-statutory bodies have outlived their original purpose or are not focused on the Government’s policy priorities. As a result, their work is best carried out by the relevant government departments or agencies.

We query how research into housing supply issues is either no longer needed, or not a policy priority, or best carried out by a government that does not have a housing ministry.

A person didn't have to agree with everything about the NHSC's take on housing supply issues to appreciate that it made a strong contribution to public discussion through its data and analysis. You can read how we engaged with its research in our posts on what we call the real housing supply problem – the shortage of affordable rental housing.

In memoriam, we reproduce here our favourite NHSC graph, from its 2010 report, showing the changing shape of the private rental market over recent years. It shows, for three census years, how many properties were let for what rents (the dollar amounts of the rents are adjusted for inflation over the years, so its comparing apples with apples).

Look at the shape of the market in 1996 (the black line), with a big bulge of properties let at fairly low rents (about $150-$200 per week). Now look at the grey line (2001), then the blue line (2006). See how that bulge of low-cost properties has, over the years flattened down, and pushed along the scale of rents. You're seeing how speculator-landlords have been bringing higher value, and hence-rent properties into the rental sector, and letting the low-cost stock drop out of the market, so that what remains becomes scarcer and less cheap.

We'll keep a look-out for an update to the 2011 census.


The abolition of the NHSC is disappointing, but the disappearance of the NHSC website, and all its publications, is even more disappointing – if not downright creepy. However, through the marvelous facility of the Internet Archive Wayback Machine, you can still access the archived NSHC website and NHSC publications

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