The Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA), a peak body representing Australia’s property development industry, has welcomed some of the recommendations from the recent National Commission of Audit (NCA).
The NCA was announced by National Treasurer Joe Hockey in October last year and was established as an independent body to review and report on the performance, functions and roles of the Commonwealth Government.
The UDIA has previously argued that the sale of surplus Commonwealth land would both help address Australia’s housing shortage, and raise revenue for Government.
The results from the NCA showed this assertion from the UDIA has merit and the NCA went so far as to recommend that the government set up a central register of all Commonwealth property, with surplus property to be sold off.
“UDIA has consistently advocated for the Government to undertake thorough and regular auditing of its assets, with a view to selling off surplus land for development where suitable,” said UDIA National President, Cameron Shephard.
“It’s great to see the report confirm the positive impact this would have on Commonwealth finances.”
The UDIA also supports the report’s recommendation to privatise Defence Housing Australia (DHA), an organisation providing quality housing and services to Australian Defence Force members and families. However, they suggest that to act on this recommendation the Government would have to ensure its rental rates are even with market rental rates.
“The Government would have to ensure that it did not enter into leasing arrangements at above market rental rates as part of the sale, in order to get best value for tax payer dollars. DHA’s existing first right of refusal for surplus defence land would also have to be removed as part of the sale, to prevent anticompetitive market practices.”
Also throwing opinion into the circle of debate is Consult Australia, a not-for-profit association that represents the business interests of consulting firms operating in the built and natural environment.
Consult believes the NCA delivers a strong foundation for how best to deliver the infrastructure and services the construction industry will demand in the generations to come.
Relative to the industry, Consult believes the commission’s recommendations for better infrastructure cost benefit analysis processes will improve public infrastructure productivity.
“The Commission’s recommendations for more equitable distribution of infrastructure funding based on robust, transparent cost benefit analysis will help manage a strong pipeline of projects and support their delivery across jurisdictions,” said Consult Australia’s Chief Executive Megan Motto.
“If the government is serious about improving productivity, participation and value for money, then the recommendations from this report are a great starting point for action.”
The UDIA has however expressed concerns about the recommendation that the Commonwealth abdicate its responsibility for housing to State Governments.
“Nationally, Australia has an enormous housing shortage, which is projected to grow to 370,000 dwellings by 2016,” said Shephard.
“In the context of getting best overall value for tax payer dollars, it’s unclear how simply passing on this problem to state governments will reduce overall expenditure.”
“Housing supply and affordability is a national problem that requires a national solution. There is a clear role for the Commonwealth in providing funding and facilitating the sharing of knowledge, research and best practice between states.”
Both the UDIA and Consult say they are looking forward to working with the government on a way to best deliver the recommendations from the NCA.
Visit www.ncoa.gov.au for more information on the audit.