NSW Productivity Commission will tackle housing affordability

The NSW government has announced that it is set to launch the state’s first Productivity Commission to ease housing affordability pressures, among other objectives.

In his address to the NSW Business Chamber, Treasurer Dominic Perrottet announced that the state government is set to establish a Productivity Commission (PC) to drive economic reform aimed at easing the cost of living and owning a house.

According to the NSW government, the proposed PC would:

  • Make housing more affordable

  • Make it easier to do business

  • Make NSW the easiest state to move to

  • Lower the cost of living

“We have laid the foundations for reform with our state-building infrastructure agenda, but now it’s time for a new wave of growth to lift the fortunes of our state and its people,” Mr Perrottet said.

“We need ongoing reform to continue to fuel our state’s economy and improve living standards for everyone who lives and works here.

“The Productivity Commission will advocate for microeconomic reform to drive productivity and regulatory improvements and identify regulations that hold us back.”

The announcement has been welcomed by executive director of the NSW Property Council Jane Fitzgerald, who encouraged the PC to initiate reforms to reduce house prices.

“This is an important announcement by Treasurer Perrottet and acknowledges some of the key challenges being faced by the public and the business community,” Ms Fitzgerald said.

“[It’s] important we look at ways the pressure can be lifted from households by reducing house prices and cost of living pressures.

“While the rise of house prices has slowed in NSW, a home is still out of reach for too many in our community and that means there is still work to be done.”

Ms Fitzgerald also urged the PC to review state levies and reform the “burdensome” planning system.

“[The] accumulation of local and state levies on housing and the still ‘bottom of the pack’ planning system should be important initial areas of focus for the commission.

“We must look at ways we can take our state’s planning system from the country’s worst to our best, and this means the Productivity Commission must inform and lead on key reform to avoid adding to the bureaucratic burden that already exists in this space.”

The PC was recommended by a panel of experts chaired by former premier Nick Greiner, and the body would be set up with the aid and advice of the former head of the Commonwealth PC, Professor Gary Banks.

Meanwhile, the NSW government has also announced that it would appoint a chief economist that would work with the government, PC and other relevant bodies to “drive innovation”.

“The chief economist will be a new driver of innovative and visionary economic analysis and advice in NSW, strengthening our state’s capacity to respond to global and local economic trends,” Mr Perrottet added.

“The role will reinforce Treasury’s capacity to drive big economic reforms to keep NSW’s economy ahead while reinforcing Treasury’s role as an intellectual leader in Australia’s economic debates.”

Further, Ms Fitzgerald said she believes that a chief economist would help promote progressive economic reforms.

The Property Council director said: “The appointment of a chief economist is also an important announcement; it is an appointment that will ensure NSW continues to be a thought leader in terms of progressive economic ideas, approaches and reforms.”

The position of chief economist is currently open for applications.