Cities Minister Taylor promises ‘billions’ for Western Sydney

Posted February 20th, 2019 by admin and filed in 南京夜网
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Sandra Fraser spends hours on a packed train commuting from her home in western Sydney to the city three times a week. But she counts herself lucky – at least she owns her own house.
Nanjing Night Net

“I think most people need to travel for work,” the social work student from Fairfield West said. “You’ve gotta go where the work is, and most people can’t afford to live anywhere near work. So they’re living further and further out, because they can’t afford their way in.”

It’s a problem the federal government wants to spends billions of dollars to fix, as part of a “city deal” to be finalised later this year that will focus on jobs, roads, rail links and environmental planning in western Sydney.

“It can take me an hour and a half to two hours to get into the city from where I live,” said Ms Fraser, who is doing a work placement at the Sydney Alliance.

“I get a bus to Fairfield Railway Station then I get a train from Fairfield to Town Hall. It’s packed. There’s a whole lot of people piled on. You’re lucky if you even get space to stand.”

She is acutely aware of the housing affordability crisis affecting many people in her area. She bought her three-bedroom home 15 years ago and said since then, house prices in her suburb have “gone through the roof”.

“Most of the houses are $600,000 or $700,000 around us. It’s ridiculous. Rents, you can’t get a three-bedroom house from under about $500 a week where we are.”

The city deal could form a key element of the government’s housing affordability package – a central plank of the May budget – as the Coalition attempts to offer relief to renters and would-be buyers.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said on Monday the key to improving housing affordability was building more homes – which would require state governments to release more land – and explicitly linked it to the federal government’s infrastructure spending plans.

“Our whole cities agenda is about improving the liveability of cities, and improving housing affordability is a big part of that,” he said.

“What we are looking to do is reach agreement so that as Commonwealth funding is made available for infrastructure, for road or rail or whatever, that is then part of the deal and a commitment to deliver, for example, more dwellings [and] more dwelling approvals.”

Mr Turnbull welcomed the housing affordability package unveiled by the Victorian state government on Sunday and said his government was prepared to do a city deal for Melbourne, as it was doing with the NSW government for Western Sydney.

Cities Minister Angus Taylor told Fairfax Media on Monday that two million people already lived west of Parramatta; that number would rise to three million by 2030; and the Western Sydney city deal would provide better infrastructure and tackle housing affordability.

He declined to answer questions about what specifically would be in the budget for Western Sydney, but said the city deal would create local jobs – with Badgerys Creek airport to play a key part in that – focus on improving both road and rail links and create a region-wide strategic environmental plan to protect areas such as the Cumberland Woodland.

“We are spending billions and we will spend more billions in the coming years, on Western Sydney airport, roads and potential rail projects. This is one of the biggest areas of investment for the federal government,” he said.

“On the supply side in the decade to 2015, Sydney should have been building 35,000 homes to keep up with population growth but in fact was building 17,000. In the last two years that supply growth has matched demand but the decade-long backlog hasn’t been addressed.”

The Western Sydney deal is the third one the government has worked on following Townsville and Launceston.

Other housing affordability measures being examined for the federal budget by Treasurer Scott Morrison include “rent to buy” and shared equity housing models used in Britain.

Reductions in capital gains tax concessions and allowing first-time buyers to use their superannuation as a home deposit have been discussed, though these latter two measures are considered less likely to be adopted.

Mr Morrison has also signalled that social housing is in his sights, while the National Affordable Housing Agreement – which costs the federal government about $1.3 billion a year in payments to states – is likely to be scrapped and the money re-purposed.

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