Royal commission's "significant" final report

The Property Council of Australia, in time for the release of the banking royal commission’s final report today, has cautioned about breaking the property industry and the economy in the process of fixing the banks.

“In fixing the issues highlighted by the Royal Commission, we must avoid creating new problems in other leading areas of the economy, especially around the efficient and responsible provision of credit for qualified borrowers,” said Ken Morrison, chief executive of the Property Council.

The way the government, regulators, and financial institutions respond to the royal commission’s recommendations will have direct consequences on first-home buyers, up-sizers and down-sizers, property investors and the 1.4 million Australians who work in the property industry, according to the Property Council.

The residential property market is worth nearly $7 trillion—3.5 times the size of the Australian stock market, and it is long-established that buyer demand and property values are being affected by the tightening of credit.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison had a similar concern, noting that the economy can face “serious consequences” if the inquiry into misconduct in Australia’s financial industry causes a credit freeze.

“I will be very mindful that I want to see the oil that lubricates our financial system, which is access to credit, continues to flow, otherwise the consequences would be quite significant,” he told The Sydney Morning Herald.

The latest Australian Bureau of Statistics data on housing finance revealed a 2.5% decline in the value of dwelling commitments in the year to November, including a 4.5% drop in the value of commitments for investment property.

In addition, the recent ANZ/Property Council industry confidence survey found that expectations around the availability of debt finance over the next 12 months have declined to their lowest level since 2011.

The Property Council stated that, at this stage of the property cycle, Australians will be searching for policy responses that deliver certainty and push confidence for buying and investing in property.

Access to credit, for instance, matters for people looking to buy new or established properties.

“The property industry also underpins state and territory government budgets, accounting for more than half of their total revenues. A strong property industry delivers great places for Australians to live and work, provides jobs and drives economic growth, and helps Australians save for their future,” Ken Morrison said.

The Banking Royal Commission was introduced by the government in December 2017 to investigate and report on misconduct in the banking, superannuation and financial services industry across the country.

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