Affordable Housing Local Solutions Forum

Bellingen and Nambucca Affordable Housing Action Group

Researchers involved with the ARC Linkage Project ‘Local Government and Housing for Australian in the 21st Century’ were invited by the Bellingen and Nambucca Affordable Housing Action Group, to attend the Affordable Housing Local Solutions Forum. Chief Investigator John Martin and PhD Student Laura Hodgson made the journey to Bellingen, New South Wales, after the Mooney Valley Workshop held earlier in the week. The forum was held over the 3rd and 4th of May and was attended by local government council members and staff, representatives of various organisations, researchers and members of the public. Over 120 people had registered for attendance over the two days, surpassing the Action Group’s expectation of 50 attendees! The attendance itself showed the interest in and importance of affordable housing in the area.

Highlights of the forum included:

  • Keynote addresses by our own John Martin, accompanied by Karen Walsh – CEO of NSW Shelter, Rebecca Jardim – Senior Strategic Planner at Bellingen, Gary White – NSW Chief Planner.
  • CEO of Common Equity Ltd, James Brown presenting on modern co-operative housing solutions, which preceded a panel discussion on forms of co-operative housing. This was of great interest to the community which has an existing housing co-operative.
  • Other sessions included financing affordable housing projects and innovative local housing solutions.
  • There were two closed sessions: one for local government, which was facilitated by John Martin and Gary White and focussed on the role of Councils; and another session that was for housing industry professionals, including developers, architects, engineers and real estate agents in addition to some local government staff.
  • Fundraising dinner with keynote speakers Dr Louise Crabtree – University of Western Sydney and Dr Ben Spies-Butcher – Macquarie University.

Key themes which repeated throughout the forum was the desire for Bellingen and Nambucca to have a plentiful supply of fit for purpose, affordable and sustainable housing – suitable for young people, families and those who choose to retire and relocate to the region from the city. Bellingen also relies heavily on tourism, therefore both council and the community were interested in understanding the extent and use of platforms such as Airbnb and how they can contribute to the local economy and housing.

Laura will be using the Bellingen Shire as one of the case studies for the project.

Laura and John would like to thank the Bellingen Neighbourhood Centre who organised the forum and assisted in accommodation costs. Materials from the forums will be available shortly on the Bellingen Neighbourhood Centre website.

New Publication By Chris Paris

Abstract: Australian holiday homes: Places of escape and sites of investment

This chapter examines Australian second homes (typically called ‘holiday homes’) within a comparative historical framework exploring growing overlaps between private leisure consumption and investments within land, housing and commercial holiday markets. Early second homes developments were typically informal structures in unregulated environments. Second home ownership grew rapidly in the 1950s and 1960s, with more formally built structures regulated by building control and land use planning. Commentators in the 1970s expected substantial future growth over the rest of the twentieth century but this did not occur; rather, holiday homes have changed and diversified within a changing socio-economic and demographic context. The Australian housing system has undergone many changes which also have affected leisure-related investment in dwellings. Contemporary Australian holiday homes, primarily located in coastal areas, have moved increasingly up-market and emerged as a hybrid form of dwelling ownership involving use for private leisure and commercial letting, exemplified by the recent establishment of the Holiday Rental Industry Association. These changes have generated new debates about holiday homes in relation to local communities, including the fiscal basis of local government, land use planning and conflicts between ‘permanent’ and ‘temporary’ residents in areas with a high incidence of holiday homes. Examples of developments, issues and debates are provided from South Australia, where the author has conducted extensive fieldwork.


Paris, C. 2018 Australian holiday homes: Places of escape and sites of investment, Ch 12 in C M Hall and D K Müller, Eds. The Routledge Handbook of Second Home Tourism and Mobilities, Abingdon, Oxford and New York: Routledge.


The impacts of Airbnb on housing markets in New South Wales

Presentation at the Moonee Valley Workshop by PhD student Laura Hodgson

View the presentation here

Governmentalities of affordable housing in non-metropolitan Australia

Presentation at the Moonee Valley Workshop by PhD student Jessica Porter.

View the presentation here

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