After the Premier’s invitation and following a meeting with her, I agreed to:
- Engage with the relevant officials to understand and evaluate their work and housing affordability policy proposals, as an independent and outside ‘additional pair of eyes’.
- Give the Premier my assessment of the issues and proposals developed by the officials, in writing.
It is important to be clear what was, and was not, in scope. The work that I took part in or observed was consciously not aimed at the problems of the genuinely homeless, nor was it aimed at social housing. These are important issues, but I am not in a position to offer an opinion on whether there is a case for government to do more in these spaces. The focus has been on the Sydney region, not regional areas of NSW. That does not mean affordability issues are unimportant in those areas. There will be some spillovers from expensive Sydney housing to the regions. And, at the margin at least, some regional centres could be part of the solution, insofar as better transport connections would make it more feasible and attractive for people to live outside Sydney but still be part of the connected community centred on Sydney.
But to be tractable the focus has been on Sydney. The focus of the work in which I participated was, in a nutshell, how we might make it easier for people of moderate means to own a dwelling in which they would live in the Sydney region. Even this raises some very fundamental questions of economic strategy, investment, regulation and political leadership.