National Cabinet working to deliver better housing outcomes

National Cabinet met in Brisbane today to deliver on a range of priorities for Australians, with a focus on more secure and affordable housing.

Delivering more housing supply is a vital part of National Cabinet’s plan to ensure communities thrive as they grow. All governments recognise the best way to ensure more Australians have a safe and affordable place to call home is to boost housing supply.

That’s why National Cabinet has agreed to an ambitious new national target to build 1.2 million new well-located homes over five years, from 1 July 2024. This is an additional 200,000 new homes above the National Housing Accord target agreed by states and territories last year.

The Commonwealth has committed to $3 billion for performance-based funding, the New Home Bonus, for states and territories that achieve more than their share of the one million well-located home target under the National Housing Accord. This will incentivise states and territories to undertake the reforms necessary to boost housing supply and increase housing affordability, making a positive and practical difference for Australians planning to buy a home.

This ambitious target will be supported by the Housing Support Program, a $500 million competitive funding program for local and state governments to kick-start housing supply in well-located areas through targeted activation payments for things like connecting essential services, amenities to support new housing development, or building planning capability.

The updated target will help align supply with expected demand over the next five years, and when linked with Commonwealth infrastructure funding, will produce more neighbourhoods and communities that have the services they need.

National Cabinet also agreed to a National Planning Reform Blueprint (attachment 1) with planning, zoning, land release and other measures to improve housing supply and affordability.

The Blueprint includes: updating state, regional, and local strategic plans to reflect housing supply targets; promoting medium and high-density housing in well-located areas close to existing public transport connections, amenities and employment; and streamlining approval pathways.

First Ministers also agreed on further significant measures to boost housing supply and better coordinate Australia’s migration settings including:

  • Endorsing initial state and territory implementation plans under the Social Housing Accelerator
  • Developing a principles-based, multi-year planning model for migration, to improve collaboration with states and territories on migration settings.

National Cabinet has agreed to A Better Deal for Renters (attachment 2) to harmonise and strengthen renters’ rights across Australia. This includes:

  • Developing a nationally consistent policy to implement a requirement for genuine reasonable grounds for eviction.
  • Moving towards limiting rent increases to once a year.
  • Phasing in minimum rental standards.

These changes will make a tangible impact for the almost one-third of Australian households who rent.

Health reform

First Ministers discussed health reform, which remains a top priority for National Cabinet in 2023. They are committed to addressing the pressures facing the health system to deliver a patient-centred and sustainable Australian healthcare system that provides the best outcomes for our community. A dedicated health meeting will be held later in the year.

This media statement has been agreed by First Ministers and serves as a record of meeting outcomes.

Attachment 1:

The National Planning Reform Blueprint includes:

  • Updating state, regional and local strategic plans to reflect their share of housing supply targets.
  • Undertaking planning, zoning, land release and other reforms, such as increasing density, to meet their share of housing supply targets.
  • Streamlining approval pathways, including strengthened ‘call in powers’, and prioritising planning amendments to support diverse housing across a range of areas e.g. by addressing barriers to subdivision for appropriate medium density housing.
  • Promoting medium and high-density housing in well located areas close to existing public transport connections, amenities and employment.
  • Reforms to support the rapid delivery of social and affordable housing.
  • Reforms to address barriers to the timely issuing of development approvals.
  • Consideration of the phased introduction of inclusionary zoning and planning to support permanent affordable, social and specialist housing in ways that do not add to construction costs.
  • Rectifying gaps in housing design guidance and building certification to ensure the quality of new builds, particularly apartments.
  • Improving community consultation processes.
  • Adequately resourcing built environmental professionals, including planners, in local government.

Attachment 2:

A Better Deal for Renters

  1. Develop a nationally consistent policy to implement a requirement for genuine reasonable grounds for eviction, having consideration to the current actions of some jurisdiction
  2. Ensure provisions to allow appeals against retaliatory eviction notices are fit for purpose (e.g. evictions motivated by tenants taking reasonable action to secure or enforce legal rights, complain or disclose information about their tenancy).
  3. Move towards a national standard of no more than one rent increase per year for a tenant in the same property across fixed and ongoing agreements.
  4. Implement a ban on soliciting rent bidding.
  5. Allow tenants experiencing domestic or family violence to:
    1. End agreements without penalty and with a streamlined process and evidence e.g. a declaration by a prescribed professional such as a doctor or support service worker;
    2. Change the locks and make security improvements without the landlord’s permission;
    3. Have their name removed from databases due to property damage caused by family or domestic violence; and
    4. With jurisdictions to consider further action to protect tenants who are victim survivors of domestic or family violence e.g. the ability to apply to have the perpetrator removed from the tenancy.
  6. Limit break lease fees for fixed term agreements to a maximum prescribed amount which declines according to how much of the lease has expired (e.g. a maximum of four weeks’ rent if less than 25 per cent of the fixed term has expired).
  7. Make rental applications easier and protect renters’ personal information:
    1. Prescribe a rental application form in each jurisdiction, with required documents limited to two in each of the following categories: identity, financial ability to pay rent, suitability;
    2. Require the destruction of renters’ personal information three years after a tenancy ends and three months after tenancy begins for an unsuccessful applicant;
    3. Require tenants’ personal information to be provided and corrected within 30 days of a request by a tenant or prospective tenant; and
    4. Specify information not allowed to be collected from a tenant or more generally (e.g. disputes with landlords).
  8. Consider options for better regulation of short-stay residential accommodation.

  9. Phase in minimum quality standards for rental properties (e.g. stovetop in good working order, hot and cold running water).

    As at 16 August 2023