Mission nearly impossible: the City of Sydney’s efforts to increase the affordable housing supply

Alan Morris has published an article in The Conversation discussing the challenges facing the City of Sydney in their endeavour to increase the supply of affordable housing. Read the article here.

New publication by Andrew Beer

A paper on place leadership by Andrew Beer and a group of his international colleagues has just been published in the Regional Studies journal. Place leadership is a growing field of research with particular implications for local governments. There may be scope to use vignettes as part of the Local Government and Housing project.

Place leadership and regional economic development: a framework for cross-regional analysis

Andrew Beer, Sarah Ayres (UK), Terry Clower (USA), Fabian Faller (Germany), Alessandro Sancino (UK) and Markku Sotarauta (Finland)

Abstract: This paper examines the leadership of places – cities, regions, communities – in Australia, Finland, Germany, Italy, the United States and the United Kingdom and explores the capacity of vignettes to generate new, theoretical and empirical insights. It uses vignettes to identify the features of place leadership evident in 12 case studies across six nations. The research finds significant commonalities in place leadership with respect to the importance attached to boundary spanning, the role of government officials in responding to the prospect of regional decline or growth and how the nature of the challenge confronting a locality determines the adequacy of the response.

The paper can be found here:

Partner Investigator Chris Paris has just had a paper published in Housing Studies

Demographic trends and changing housing systems in Northern Ireland

Abstract: This paper explores the dynamic interrelationship between demographic change and housing systems and the implications for assessing future housing need, including a review of the literature on demography and housing and a case study of Northern Ireland. The main research method is historical analysis of census and other data relating to changing population structures and the housing system in Northern Ireland between 1981 and 2011. These changes are compared to developments in Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland over the same period. The paper identifies a long period of broadly consistent relations between demographic and housing system trends between 1981 and 2001, followed by significant changes in demographic trends and a turbulent housing system undergoing rapid change between 2001 and 2011. Our conclusions include consideration of the implications of this study for future analyses of the relationships between demographic change and housing systems.

Paris, C. and Frey, J. 2018 Demographic trends and changing housing systems in Northern Ireland, Housing Studies, DOI: 10.1080/02673037.2018.1424805

The following paper will be presented by Alan Morris at the XIX International Sociological Association World Congress of Sociology in Toronto in July

Abstract: The financialisation of housing and the housing affordability crisis in Sydney

Over the last decade house prices in Sydney have soared and it is now one of the most expensive housing markets globally. In mid-2017 the median price for a detached home reached $AU1.18 million (about $$US900,000).  This paper, drawing on documents and existing research, first outlines the features of the crisis and then examines the key contributors. What is argued is that the fundamental underlying cause of the crisis has been the reconceptualisation of housing in Australia so that it is viewed “as an instrument for profit-making” (Madden and Marcuse 2016: 4). The financialisation of housing has been actively encouraged by government policy. The extremely generous tax-breaks for investors in a context of record low interest rates has resulted in a massive increase in the number of small investors in the housing market. At the end of 2016 there were 2.03 million landlords in Australia representing 15.7 percent of all tax-payers. The tax breaks offered make purchasing a residential property as an investment an eminently sensible investment strategy and investors are prepared to pay a higher price than a conventional home purchaser. Besides the local dynamics, Sydney’s status as a global city that is perceived as a safe haven, has resulted in a substantial inflow of foreign capital into its residential property market. In many new apartment developments, most notably in inner-city areas, the majority of purchasers are foreign investors. At the end of 2014, it was reported that Australia, the US and Britain are the first choices for Chinese property investors and that within Australia, Sydney is the favourite destination. Unless there are major policy shifts, it likely that for a large part of Sydney’s population, housing will continue to be a source of anguish rather than comfort and security.

Murray Bridge Workshop


Researchers working on the Local Government and Housing ARC Linkage Project met with some of the project’s partner organisations at Murray Bridge on 9 November 2017. Hosted by the Rural City of Murray Bridge, and led by Emeritus Professor John Martin, the meeting had representatives from four South Australian councils along with researchers and PhD student Jessica Porter.

The highlight of the day was a presentation by Emeritus Professor Chris Paris who is visiting from Ireland. Chris talked about his research on second homes (holiday homes) including new developments such as Airbnb. The evolution of second homes in South Australia from self-built shacks so typical in the 1950s and 1960s through to today’s mansions was fascinating. Beyond South Australia, Chris also discussed second homes in national and global contexts. His presentation, entitled The changing ecology of Australian second homes, can be found here.

Project Officer Sandy Horne updated the group about the online survey of local government CEOs. Sandy presented some early data which prompted discussion about the difficulties of trying to regulate entities such as Airbnb.

PhD student Jessica Porter’s presentation was well received. Jessica is 12 months into her candidature and is in the data collection phase. Her research question is: What is the impact of State initiated affordable housing policies on the supply of affordable housing in non-metropolitan Australia and how are these policies mediated by local governments? Jessica is based at UniSA’s Mount Gambier campus and will be doing a comparative study of regional cities in South Australia and Victoria.

The day ended with a discussion led by Emeritus Professor John Martin dealing with the important topics of local leadership and the South Australian Government’s reform of their Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act. John posed the question: What are the political influence opportunities for Local Governments? which prompted an interesting range of responses from participants.

November 2017 Edition of LG Focus

The November 2017 edition of the LG Focus newspaper features a front-page article written with the assistance of project investigators John Martin and Andrew Beer. The piece highlights affordable housing issues and the way local governments around Australia are dealing with housing challenges. View it here

The City of Sydney’s approach to the supply of affordable housing

City of Sydney report - 18 Sept 2017-1

This paper is one of a series of documents produced by the research team as we progress through our program of work. This paper investigates the strategies used by the City of Sydney to increase affordable housing and whether they can be replicated in other council areas. Download the report.


RSA Conference Presentations

Project PhD students Jessica Porter and Laura Hodgson presented at the recent RSA conference in Sydney. Their presentations are available below.

Jessica Porter – Governance of affordable housing in South Australia: what do regional planning reforms mean for non-metropolitan local government?

Laura Hodgson – Regional Impacts of Airbnb


March 2017 PhD Presentations

Project PhD students Laura Hodgson, Jessica Porter and Lenka Thompson presented their work at the March 2017 Project workshop at the Sunshine Coast. Their presentations are available below.

Laura Hodgson: Airbnb Regulation Sunshine Coast Presentation

Jessica Porter: Land Use Policies and the Supply of Affordable Housing in Rural and Regional Australia

Lenka Thompson: Local Government in Australia and its Capacity to Supply Affordable Housing

Local government and housing in the 21st century: A discussion paper

This Discussion Paper reviews the major themes in policy, public debate and the published literature on the role of local governments in the housing sphere in Australia in the 21st Century. It has been produced as one output associated with the Australian Research Council’s Linkage project, Local Government and Housing in the 21st Century (LP LP150100160) and is intended to inform discussion with our industry partners and other stakeholders on the priority issues for further investigation as the project progresses over the next two and a half years. Download it here.