Tony Giannone

The Australian Institute of Architects said it was disappointed that a long-term vision and sense of urgency for the two biggest issues affecting the nation’s built environment , climate change and the housing- affordability crisis, is not shared by all parties.

A statement from the institute on Thursday said:

After a six-week campaign, the institute remains committed to its Federal Election Policy Statement A Time For Action, which called for greater action to accelerate a net-zero economy, a long-term plan for housing, and greater integrity in government.

“National President Tony Giannone said climate change and housing were continually nominated as key issues for the Australian public, but they were not being addressed sufficiently by all incumbent or aspiring political leaders.

“Our member survey revealed architects believe climate change was the most critical issue facing Australia, with housing a close second,” he said.

“Architects want to protect the future of the built environment. That’s why many of us are so passionate about making sure we usher in a low-carbon system as soon as possible. We need a responsible framework for us to ensure we reduce emissions from the building and construction industries, which make up about 38 per cent of global emissions.

“We are disappointed climate change has not been more of an issue in the policy debate this election campaign

The Time For Action agenda called for greater investment for ARENA (the Australian Renewable Energy Agency), the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and universities to accelerate the decarbonisation of buildings and infrastructure. Under the policy platform, this would occur together with a national resilience policy, faster implementation of the Trajectory for Low Energy Buildings, and enhanced sustainability requirements in the National Construction Code.

The Institute has reviewed each party’s announced policies in detail. Only the Greens have sought to reinstate funding that was cut from ARENA in 2016.

More sustainable housing is also needed desperately, to overcome shortages of social and affordable housing. Through a National Housing Strategy that brings together states, territories and the federal government, Australia can create a sensible, responsible and sustainable plan for fit-for-purpose, accessible and well- maintained housing where it is needed.

Almost nine out of 10 respondents to the institute’s survey said more needed to be done to address Australia’s rising housing stress, and social, community and public housing shortages.

Mr Giannone said the Australian government’s current First Home Loan Deposit Scheme and the ALP’s proposed First Home Buyer Support Scheme were positive, but targeted to a specific group.

“Sadly, these programs do not address the underfunding of social housing,” he said. “There is also a concern these initiatives will have the opposite effect and drive up prices for those trying to enter the market.

While the Greens have announced a very ambitious policy of one million affordable public and community houses over 20 years, voters will need to be convinced that their proposal to deliver this via a Federal Housing Trust from taxes on billionaires and large corporations will actually be achievable.

“We need a bold and long-term plan as outlined in our National Housing Strategy proposal, not tinkering around the edges – and with a transparent and viable fiscal strategy to make it a reality.”

The institute has called for inclusionary zoning with incentives.

“We want a better future for Australia and Australians,” Mr Giannone said. “We believe this can happen by delivering on a carefully thought-out plans for greater sustainability and affordability in our built environment.”

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