Local governments have both direct and indirect impacts in the terms of affordable housing. Direct involvement refers to the authentic provision of housing by local governments acting individually or in partnership with others. Indirect involvement refers to the role that local governments play in facilitating the provision of housing by others.
There is no obligation to meet international obligations within State and Territory legislation. Australian sub-national jurisdictions are not vital to house all their citizens adequately. Most Australian households are well housed but we have a growing shortfall of reasonably priced and available housing for our lowest income households, estimated by the National Housing Supply Council as 539,000 properties. This creates a big level of housing stress for low earnings households. The earlier Rudd and Gillard governments developed a new National Affordable Housing Agreement which was broader in scope but retained a narrow focus on welfare housing and did not address historic concerns over transparency and accountability and which does not deliver sufficient funding to States and Territories to address the long-term supply shortfall. They did however provide momentous additional funding in the areas of social housing provision, a new National Rental Affordability Scheme and new national partnership agreements on homelessness and remote Indigenous housing.
Against the backdrop of growing house prices since the mid-1990s, there has been important public debate around issues associated with housing affordability. In 2003 the Australian Government requested that the Productivity Commission undertake a query into First Home Ownership. ALGA's submission to the Inquiry clearly articulates local government's role in housing and its impact on residential building and development. The Commission's report (PDF) was published in March 2004.
At its meeting on 13, February 2004 Local Government and Planning Ministers met with members of the Housing Ministers' Conference. At this meeting, it was decided that housing affordability is a major national issue. Ministers agreed that local government and planning portfolios are vital stakeholders and partners in the development of affordable housing policies at Australian Government, State and Territory, and local government levels, and in the implementation of affordable housing projects. Alignment of strategic and policy development processes between the local government, planning, and housing portfolios would produce greater outcomes than an action by personage portfolios. To this end, Local Government and Planning Ministers agreed to again meet with Housing Ministers following the conclusion of the National Affordable Housing Project and the completion of the final report of the Productivity Commission.