Calls for defence to consider selling land for housing

The building lobby says an audit of the defence force estate is an important step towards unlocking land for housing.

Former Defence Housing Australia managing director Jan Mason and Infrastructure Victoria chairman Jim Miller are leading the audit that aims to ensure Australian bases and infrastructure are up to scratch.

They are set to report back by the end of the year.

Master Builders Australia said the audit is an opportunity for more transparency around Commonwealth land and to release land to address the housing crisis.

CEO Denita Wawn said the government should consider residential and commercial construction on bases that are no longer deemed to be fit for purpose.

“Earmarking Commonwealth land for future developments will play a role in addressing inadequate housing supply,” she said.

“Focusing on housing supply across the entire housing market, including land releases in well-located areas, facilitates the movement through the housing spectrum, enabling lower-cost housing to become more affordable.”

Ms Wawn said there was no readily available public data to show what Commonwealth land release opportunities were available after national cabinet agreed to co-ordinate government efforts to address housing and rental affordability.

“All levels of government have a role to play in ensuring there is adequate supply of land, reforming the planning system to assist with getting projects off the ground and reducing the unnecessarily high costs of construction,” she said.

The defence estate covers 2.8 million hectares across every state and territory and includes 70 major bases, over 72 training ranges and more than 30,000 built structures.

Upkeep is expected to cost at least $12.2 billion over the forward estimates.

The audit will aim to ensure Australia’s bases are fit for purpose and meet national security needs.

Recommendations will include consolidating, cancelling and disposing of assets that are no longer needed and accelerating the planning and delivery of infrastructure.

Defence Minister Richard Marles said there would be a focus on Australia’s northern bases as the defence force works to shore up its infrastructure in the Top End.

“We are investing significantly in Darwin and the infrastructure and the capabilities around Darwin because of what the city means to our national security,” he told ABC radio on Monday.

“We’ll continue to make sure that we are putting the appropriate investment in so that Darwin can continue to play the really important role it does for the security of our country.”

Mr Marles said he was confident the reviewers could meet the tight timeline.


Dominic Giannini
(Australian Associated Press)


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