Victoria leads the nation in construction activity

VICTORIA is the only bright light in an otherwise ailing residential construction industry, accounting for more than twice the private housing starts of any other state. The latest dwelling start figures show New South Wales had the second-worst March quarter in the 40 years records have been kept. Work started on just 3672 private houses in NSW, fewer than half the 8843 in Victoria and also fewer than Queensland and Western Australia.

Nationally private starts stalled while stimulus-fuelled public starts jumped 73 per cent. ”It is clear NSW residential construction is being kept afloat by public housing,” said Aaron Gadiel, chief executive of developer lobby group Urban Taskforce Australia. Commonwealth Bank economist Michael Workman said the good news was that public-sector dwelling starts should stay high for a while.

Mr Gadiel said it was apt that the figures came out as the Local Government and Shires Association announced councils were banding together to fight attempts to limit their taxes on new homes.

”Councils seem to believe that each new levy they impose can be funded from endless developer profits without hurting buyers,” he said. ”They often proclaim ‘support’ for new housing, but then kill subdivision efforts by imposing ridiculous and unaffordable development charges.”

Victoria was an exception, and developers were moving from NSW to Victoria as a result. Separately released Residex figures show Melbourne house prices soaring 8 per cent in the three months to April and 22 per cent over the year – the fastest growth in Australia. The typical Melbourne house price is $582,000 and unit price $445,000.

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