30/01/2013 - 15:36

Property leaders call for council reform

30/01/2013 - 15:36

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Property leaders call for council reform
Alcock Brown-Neaves Group managing director Dale Alcock

Housing industry experts have predicted Western Australia’s property turnover will return to its long-term average in 2013 but warned the rental market would remain tight, and called on the state government to get on with enacting local council reforms to remove barriers to supply.

Speaking at a breakfast forum this morning, Real Estate Institute of Western Australia president David Airey said local government restructuring was vital for the property industry but had been held back by the state government’s fear of reform.

“I’m very surprised the Barnett government did not do this about four years ago. We would have all forgotten about it by now,” he said.

“I think if they don’t do it very quickly they don’t deserve to be re-elected.

“We’ve got councils all trying to do different things against and around each other without achieving proper outcomes.”

Prominent local builder Dale Alcock said trying to comply with the spread of different council restrictions was “near-on impossible” for builders.

“We are the last state in the nation to undergo true local government reform,” he told the forum.

“We have 139 (local government areas), we need about 70. I could bring along two lever-arch files which consist of the crossover details for each of the 39 local authorities in the metropolitan area. All are different, and trying to comply with that as a builder is near-on impossible.”

A review into local metropolitan councils handed down by former University of Western Australia vice-chancellor Alan Robson last year recommended reducing the number of councils from 30 to 12 through a combination of amalgamation and splitting up local government areas.

The state government announced in October it would not respond to the recommendations until April – after the March 9 state election.

REIWA’s outlook for 2013 forecasts a 10 per cent increase in turnover, returning it to its 15-year average. While first home buyer activity has been strong in recent times, it is expected to reach its peak as house prices rise in the coming months.

Housing Industry Association economist Geordan Murray predicted that balancing the books would remain in vogue in 2013, with households remaining averse to taking on debt.

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