A note from UDIA’s National President

I am pleased to provide, for your perusal, the UDIA’s National Policy Priorities 2019 – “Building a Better Australia”.

This document encompasses the key issues of relevance to our industry as we head towards a May 2019 Federal Election.  The six key issues set out by the document call on Federal politicians to:

  1. Get population settings right;
  2. Deliver Urban Infrastructure;
  3. Boost housing supply & diversity;
  4. Reform taxes & charges;
  5. Improve clarity & certainty; and
  6. Future-proof our cities

UDIA National Council spent Monday 26 November in Parliament House in Canberra, meeting MPs and Senators on both sides of politics and stepping through our National Policy Priorities document.  All of those with whom we met took a great interest in our commentary and appreciated the clarity of our positions and the practical nature of our arguments.

As several of those with whom we met observed, when it comes to the key issues affecting our industry, there’s actually more that unites the major parties than divides them.  Certainly, there’s an understanding of the need for a comprehensive national population, settlement and housing strategy, supported by the planning and funding of key infrastructure.

There is also a growing realisation that the populist backlash in Sydney and Melbourne against road and public transport congestion is caused by too little comprehensive planning and infrastructure delivery, not too many people.  The need for continued levels of immigration to support our economy is clear.

Where the political divide is most stark is around the issue of changes to negative gearing and capital gains tax.  The current Coalition government intends to keep these settings as they are, whereas the alternative Labor government proposes to make significant changes to these settings.

The need to curtail rampant price growth fuelled in part by record levels of investor demand in Sydney and Melbourne has already been achieved with the changes in bank lending practices, the introduction of foreign buyer surcharges and falling consumer confidence. Hence, any changes to negative gearing and capital gains tax settings at a time where the residential property market is fragile cannot be supported.

UDIA’s position on this issue is clear and has been advocated strongly: whilst there are some elements of Labor’s proposed settings which, on face value, may have some level of potential merit, experts and consultants on both sides of the argument cannot agree on the likely impacts of any changes.  Given this, and the already perilous state of some markets why take the risk of making any changes?  UDIA’s position is that negative gearing and capital gains tax settings should remain unchanged until the potential impacts of any proposed changes and fully understood and the impacts to the wider economy are more accurately modelled.

Nevertheless, in the face of this obvious and compelling logic, Labor appears determined to forge ahead with its proposed changes should it win government.  We are advocating strongly and loudly on this issue, adding to the chorus of other stakeholders and commentators imploring Labor to defer the implementation of their policy if it wins government.  UDIA National is playing its part.  I urge all members to join this effort and engage with their locally-based Federal Labor MPs and Senators at any opportunity on this issue.

UDIA’s National Congress 2019 is being held on the Gold Coast, and in alignment with our key advocacy strategies is also themed “Building a Better Australia”.  This will be an important opportunity for all to hear engaging speakers, participate in Q&A sessions, and view exemplar development and infrastructure projects which will all demonstrate practical, implementable ways in which the key tenets of our Policy Platform can and should be progressed.  I urge your attendance for what promises to be an informative and engaging few days.

Finally, thank you again for your continued support of UDIA.  As a federated, member organisation, UDIA relies on the support of its members around the country and we will continue to advocate for sensible balanced outcomes on your behalf.

Yours faithfully,

Darren Cooper

UDIA National President

Download the full publication here.