QUESTION: Affordable housing

In Question Time today, Mark asked the Minister for Human Services about how the Government will ensure that affordable housing is made available to low-income South Australians when new multi-dwelling developments are approved.


The Hon. M.C. PARNELL: On 4 July, I asked the Treasurer, representing the Minister for Human Services, a question about whether the Government was confident that developers were meeting their obligations to provide affordable housing as part of new significant developments.

This relates to the requirement for certain multiple dwelling developments to include 15 per cent affordable housing. In a written response received on 10 September the Treasurer provided the Minister's response to him, saying:

The South Australian Housing Authority has advised that developers are meeting their affordable housing obligations under the current planning system.

This answer is contradicted in a recent report to the Adelaide City Council entitled Social and Affordable Housing in the City. The report shows that over the last seven years, 25 projects comprising 2,300 apartments were completed or under construction in the City of Adelaide and that only five of those 25 projects committed to providing affordable housing. To make it worse, none of those projects sold any of their homes to eligible buyers; all homes were sold to investors on the open market. According to the Adelaide City Council report:

In theory, some 345 affordable apartments should have been delivered through the inclusionary zoning process and sold to eligible buyers. The existing system is therefore not delivering the desired outcomes.

That is an understatement, describing a program with zero success as not delivering the desired outcomes, but it is even more galling given that developers are often granted extra concessions, such as additional building height, on the promise of affordable housing. If not for the City of Adelaide report the failure of this program would never have come to light because the obligation to provide affordable housing is contained in documents called land management agreements, which the government refuses to make public, citing confidentiality. According to the Minister's response to my last question:

The Minister for Planning holds a register of all land management agreements that have been entered for the purpose of mandating the delivery of affordable housing. The content of these land management agreements is confidential and not available publicly.

My questions to the minister are:

1. How will the Minister fix this failed policy to ensure that affordable housing is made available to low-income South Australians when new multi-dwelling developments are approved?

2. Given the Planning Minister's refusal to make land management agreements public, is the Minister for Planning in breach of section 57 and section 57A of the Development Act and regulations 99 and 100 of the Development Regulations, which require the Register of Land Management Agreements to be made freely available for public inspection?

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (Minister for Human Services): I thank the honourable member for his question. As he has identified, the matters of affordable housing cross several portfolios, including mine where I am responsible for emergency and crisis accommodation, public social housing and some support for people who are seeking assistance through private rental, and also Minister Knoll, who has responsibility for planning wherein that particular program sits, and also the Treasurer, who takes a keen interest in all of these issues as well.

Affordable housing is an ongoing issue across Australia and also in South Australia and that is why we have established a housing and homelessness strategic group to guide us in developing a 10-year plan. We are partially doing it because it is a requirement for the housing and homelessness funding with the commonwealth government. We have certainly taken a much more diverse approach to this space in that housing is something that spans not just the areas within my portfolio but also in the private sector.

I think it has been acknowledged in the particular program referred to that some developers have struggled with particular targets. My understanding is that the particular program the member has referred to at a state level certainly has been complied with. I would have to look at what the Adelaide City Council has been referring to but I suspect that it is a different program or some monitoring that they do within their particular zone. However, they are all partners and we have not completed our housing and homelessness strategy at this stage but we certainly are aware that there is a range of matters that are contributing to people having a lack of access to affordable housing, both in the private sector and in the rental space, and that is something that we are very keen to address.

If I haven't answered all of the member's questions, because I think some of them sit within the responsibility of Minister Knoll, I will take them on notice and bring back a response.


You can read Mark's previous question to and response from the Minister here