The Turnbull government’s new policy to make Australia’s building regulations more progressive and responsive to new technologies and new business models has been criticised as too conservative and inhumane by local communities, with some building unions saying they will fight the policy tooth and nail.
The new policy was announced in February, just weeks before the federal election, to be rolled out to every new house in Australia by 2021.
It will allow for greater innovation and access to more people to build new homes, with more houses to be built in rural areas and more people able to live in smaller houses.
But building unions and residents are also opposed to the policy, with one in four building workers saying they would walk out of a job if it was implemented.
The policy will see more than 300 new house gates installed in the first six months of 2021.
The gates will cost $10,000 to install and will also be covered by a new health insurance scheme for residents.
The plan will see the number of people living in a house increase by around 30 per cent.
But many building unions have slammed the policy as too restrictive.
“We are concerned that we will see a significant reduction in the number and number of houses that will be built,” said one building union.
“If you are building a home with the goal of being more environmentally friendly and more socially inclusive, then you should be able to have a better chance of getting that done, but in a reasonable time frame.”
The union also questioned the policy’s affordability.
“As we have seen, the policies that are being put forward are unaffordable and don’t meet the aspirations of our communities,” said an ABC Labor spokesperson.
“In addition, building standards are not being met, building costs are being paid more by building owners, and construction work is being undertaken with no environmental benefits for our local communities.”
The new government has promised to increase the number or types of houses in Australia, but the new policy is likely to be the biggest overhaul of Australia’s housing market since the housing crisis of the 1990s.
The Abbott government is aiming to reduce the number that will have to be retrofitted each year and will not be able start building new houses until the end of 2019.
The Government is also set to change the law to allow councils to apply for a building permit on a case-by-case basis, meaning new houses built before 2020 can be built with a builder’s permit and without any community consultation.
The number of new houses being built in Australia will be reduced to around 7,000 each year from the current 7,300.
In a letter to local councils, the Government said the policy would increase the proportion of new housing built by 20 per cent, with a target of having 40 per cent of new homes built by 2021, up from 35 per cent currently.
However, some building union representatives have questioned whether the new plan will work, particularly given the government’s decision to delay the building of new buildings.
“The Government’s plans to increase housing supply and build more houses will be hugely popular with the Australian public, but what will happen to all those houses that are left when we stop building?
How will we ensure the quality of life of our community will not suffer?” said one member of the Building and Construction Union of Australia.”
Will we still be able enjoy the beauty of the country or will we be left to live out the remaining days of the 21st century with less?
The policy has the potential to be both a boon for the country’s housing stock and a disaster for our communities.”ABC Fact Check investigates the history of the housing industry in Australia.