Victoria’s landmark housing reform: A new era or empty promises?

By Our Reporter
Representational Photo by Maximillian Conacher on Unsplash

The Andrews Labor Government today unleashed a housing reform package, poised to be the most transformative in generations. Aimed at boosting housing supply and affordability in Victoria, this landmark initiative targets an astronomical construction of 2.24 million homes by 2051, in line with the state’s surging population growth.

In the immediate term, Victoria’s Housing Statement – The Decade Ahead 2024-2034 outlines the audacious goal of constructing 800,000 new homes across the state over the next decade. It’s not just about erecting walls and roofs, but the vision goes beyond bricks and mortar. The Government is embarking on an Affordability Partnership with industry stakeholders to ensure that these homes are not just numerous, but also within financial reach of the average Victorian.

At the core of the Housing Statement are five pillars designed to solve the housing crisis from its roots:

Streamlining Decisions: The planning system will undergo a facelift to expedite the approval process, thereby offering a clear timeline to builders, buyers and renovators.

Affordable Urban Living: The focus shifts from urban sprawl to developing housing closer to existing infrastructure like transport, schools and hospitals.

Renters’ Rights: Closing loopholes that increase costs for renters, ensuring quicker resolution of disputes and improving lease terms for greater stability.

Boosting Social Housing: An aggressive rollout of social and affordable housing options is on the cards, including Australia’s largest urban renewal project in Melbourne’s 44 high-rise social housing towers.

Long-term Housing Strategy: A relook at the Planning and Environment Act 1987 is also in the pipeline to ensure that the planning system serves the Victorian public rather than hindering them.

Sealing the commitment to these lofty ambitions, the Government signed the Affordability Partnership with heavyweights like the Property Council of Australia, Master Builders Victoria, the Urban Development Institute of Australia, the Housing Industry Association and Super Housing Partnerships.

Premier Daniel Andrews struck a serious note, saying, “The status quo is not an option, and admiring the problem will only make it worse. Whether you’re buying or renting, there’ll be a place you can afford, and that you can call home.”

However, the Opposition was not impressed, dismissing the reforms as a ‘mansion of promises’. John Pesutto, Leader of the Opposition, criticised, “After nine years of inaction, today’s announcement is possibly Daniel Andrews’ most shameless con yet on Victorians.” The criticism mainly centres around the belief that the plan overlooks the root causes of the housing crisis and fails to inspire confidence in Victoria’s construction sector.

If the Government’s aspirations materialise, it could support up to 16,000 jobs across Victoria, further bolstering the economy. Yet, whether this Housing Statement stands as a cornerstone of reform or crumbles like a house of cards is something that remains to be seen. It’s one thing to draw up a blueprint; it’s entirely another to build a home.

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