The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) recently handed down a deficit budget for 2019-2020, which includes the plan to add staff to support the housing industry in the territory. However, the initiative will come at a cost, according to the Housing Industry Association (HIA).

“The housing industry is broadly supportive of the additional staff to support building compliance, licensing and to address the chronic delays in the ACT’s development approval system, but the reality is that homebuyers will pay for it through increases in the building levy and development application fees,” said Greg Weller, executive director HIA ACT/Southern NSW. “It is disappointing that these services are being funded through new levies and charges that will ultimately be passed on to the public when they build a new home.”

Given that only 39% of development application decisions were made within the statutory timeframe during 2018-2019, Weller asks if the industry and community are entitled to ask what level of service will be guaranteed with these extra staff and extra costs.

As part of the ACT Housing Strategy, the budget committed to heavily investing in public housing. The move comes with an additional $20 million being forecast for each year over the forward estimates. In addition, there is a planned investment in the modernisation of the ACT Land Titles system and e-conveyancing, along with improvements to accessing online services through Access Canberra.

“The ACT economic credentials do remain strong, with a 1.75% population growth forecast. This points to the need for the housing sector to remain strong and we look forward to working with the government as they implement these budget measures,” Weller said.