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Julia GillardAUSTRALIA’S peak real estate advisory body has lashed out at Labor’s management of the property market, saying the Gillard government has crippled the sector with higher prices, lower supply and slower land releases.

Speaking to The Australian yesterday, Real Estate Institute of Australia president David Airey said the industry had lost confidence in Julia Gillard and believed the government had “lost its way” by abolishing the position of a dedicated housing minister.

Mr Airey said in the four months since the election, the REIA – which has long provided research and advice to the federal government – had not been contacted.

“There has been no contact, no advice sought and we haven’t seen any policy direction,” Mr Airey said. “I think the government has lost its way and made a big mistake in changing the make up of the ministry.”

Once the carriage of now Minister for Human Services Tanya Plibersek, the portfolio of housing was split among three ministers – Jenny Macklin, Mark Arbib and Tony Burke – when the Prime Minister announced her new team on September 11.

Mr Airey said the axing of a full-time minister meant Labor had lost sight of the major housing issues of land supply, affordability, planning controls and property taxes.

“Ministers with shared portfolios only spend so much time doing certain things . . . they’re only going to address issues that pop up rather than the big picture,” Mr Airey said. “We’re told we are in a housing crisis . . . It sure is a funny way to deal with crisis . . . no dedicated ministry or cabinet-led direction.”

His comments come a day before the Reserve Bank is to decide whether to lift the official cash rate from 4.75 per cent, causing homeowners further interest rate pain, and as the Australian Bureau of Statistics prepares to release its quarterly house price data tomorrow, which many economists predict will show a rise in the median house price.

Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin, rejected Mr Airey’s comments, saying the government had made housing “a national priority”.

“More than $20 billion has been invested in social and affordable housing, the largest by any Australian government in history,” Ms Macklin’s spokeswoman said.

On why the portfolio had been split, the spokeswoman said: “Social housing, homelessness and housing affordability involve many complex issues and it is appropriate that they receive the focus necessary to address them”.

“Ministers are working closely to ensure housing outcomes are delivered in a co-ordinated way.”

Story by Lanai Vasek www.theaustralian.com.au

Tags: economy, government, housing, money, property, real estate

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