‘More affordable housing needed’

National, Normal

PUBLIC Services Minister Peter O’Neill supports many recommendations of the recently released ICCC report on the housing and real estate industry.
“There is a clear need to improve land allocation and land servicing rules, regulations and administration,” Mr O’Neill said.
The minister said if house and land prices were to be reduced, more land and serviced blocks had to be made available to the public.
“The ICCC has made sound recommendations to improve supply of serviced land.”
In his submission to the ICCC, Mr O’Neill said the State had to uphold responsibilities to look after the interests and welfare of public servants.
“These responsibilities are quite distinct from the Government’s responsibility to provide housing and shelter for the general populace,” he said.
Mr O’Neill indicated his commitment to the implementation of the public services home ownership programme (PSHOP) which would see affordable homes made available to public servants.
“It is not good enough to ask employees to wait five or more years for a possible improvement in the housing situation. Employees need houses now,” Mr O’Neill said.
The minister said the PSHOP contractor was presently undertaking road survey work prior to commencing land clearing and putting up site offices.
Mr O’Neill acknowledged problems with the management of the National Housing Corporation, but did not agree with ICCC recommendations to sell-off all NHC owned assets.
“There is a clear need for  the provision of low-cost housing for the general public.”
Mr O’Neill is unconvinced by ICCC’s economic arguments, suggesting that the private sector would deliver such accommodation more cheaply than the public sector.
He pointed out to the privatisation of electricity supplies in Queensland, Australia, where privatisation had resulted in continual price increases rather than fee decreases.
The minister said he was surprised the report recommendations had been widely released and promoted in the press prior to the National Executive Council having the opportunity to consider the issues.