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Housing : March 2009
Government Stimulus Package Graphic: © Naomi Zouwer properties. For those already insulated, a $1600 (non-means-tested) solar water rebate will be available. The final part of the government’s package that applies to HIA members is bringing forward $110 million of the $2.5 billion Trade Training Centres in Schools Program funding. The program will provide facilities to enhance education opportunities for Year 9–11 students. Building 20,000 new homes The construction of new social houses for low-income Australians will take place in two stages. The first stage involves bringing forward for construction approximately 2300 social housing dwellings which were already planned and approved. The second stage involves a Commonwealth Government-approved tender for new construction, including spot purchases of house and land packages for use as public and community housing. This will ensure The Energy Efficient Homes Program This program of initiatives (time-limited) will have three key components: • First, eligible Australian owneroccupiers will be able to access free installation and supply of ceiling insulation (up to $1600) through this program, saving a possible $200 per year on their energy bills. • Second, there will be support for tenants in rental accommodation, with landlords able to access an increased rebate of up to $1000 to install insulation in their rental properties. • Third, the Australian Government will also help Australian households install climate friendly hot water technologies. Increased non-means tested rebates of $1600 will be available to all Australian households (that have not already claimed the insulation assistance) to install solar or heat pump hot water systems to replace electric storage hot water systems. 12 both large and small builders benefit from increased construction activity. Preference will be provided to those developments that already have planning and development approvals and require pre-sale commitments to secure construction funding. This will unlock projects stalled by the lack of working capital. The package also provides up to $400 million for states and territories to undertake repairs to existing public housing dwellings, and upgrade approximately 2500 vacant public housing dwellings that would otherwise be unable to remain as public housing. The majority of the second stage of construction will be completed by December 2010. Federal Housing Minister Tanya Plibersek says the social housing funding is part of the government’s commitment to halve the rate of homelessness by 2020, and maintain jobs. ‘The vast majority of houses built under this program will be completed by December 2010 – a massive and immediate support for jobs in the housing construction industry,’ she says. ‘This historic investment in housing infrastructure is also an investment in the future quality of life of low-income Australians.’ HIA Managing Director Ron Silberberg says the announcement makes social and economic sense, and that the package would help peg the substantial hole in private sector dwelling activity. ‘Everyday we are receiving reports of retrenchments, lay-offs and people going out of business, and there is an urgency to get things moving as quickly as possible, while at the same time ensuring there is value for money,’ he says. ‘Through spot purchasing of new dwellings, the program could generate additional demand for 85,000 jobs.’ HIA Chief Executive –Association Chris Lamont agrees. He says the move will help unlock a number of the 25,000 private sector dwellings that have been approved but not yet started due to a lack of working capital. ‘At the moment you have presale requirements that are significantly higher than what they were 12 to 18 months ago. What that effectively means is that developers or vendors are required to achieve 70 per cent of presale to secure working capital. ‘If we are talking about a project which, hypothetically, might be sitting at 55 to 60 per cent, that project may be denied the necessary finance to commence. So the investment by the federal government could guarantee the additional percentage required to achieve that finance.’ $6 billion will be set aside for new public and community housing including multi-unit and detached dwellings Support for the recovery plan, and acknowledgement of HIA’s contribution, has been widely expressed. In an article in The Age (11/2/09), Tim Colebatch and Dewi Cooke said: ‘The core of the scheme bears the imprint of the Housing Industry Association, an influential contributor to recent policy debates’. Community housing and welfare groups have also welcomed the housing rescue package. Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) Chief Executive Clare Martin says the 20,000 new dwellings will help alleviate pressure on public housing. ‘There is a drastic shortage of public and community housing dwellings and long waiting lists,’ she says. ‘More than 750,000 people currently struggle with HOUSING MARCH 2009