Media Release

13 March 2021

NSW Labor is calling on the Berejiklian Government to immediately fix problems in the State’s planning system which allow essential workers to be priced out of affordable housing.

The Member for Coogee Dr Marjorie O’Neill said her there is a serious need for affordable housing in her electorate, but that Councils and the Government lack the power to properly regulate the space.

“At $500 per week, a hospital porter who earns $39,000 a year would have to spend more than 60% of their weekly salary on rent. This is not affordable housing by any stretch of the imagination!”.

Gladys Berejiklian claimed affordable housing was her key priority when she became Premier. Yet in the four years since, the affordability of housing in Sydney and the regions has become worse.

The Labor leader in the Legislative Council and Shadow Minister for Planning and Better Living, Adam Searle identified a key defect in the system involving the State Environmental Planning Policy (Affordable Rental Housing) instrument.

“The regime is a Trojan horse for developers. It enables developers to bypass many planning controls with no accountability or legal mechanism to guarantee housing built under the system is properly used for this purpose” — Adam Searle MLC, Shadow Minister for Planning and Better Living

“We need more housing at prices people can actually afford. Where this planning instrument is used it must actually deliver housing at lower prices for those it was intended to help,” Mr Searle said.

“There is no real accountability and there are many examples of developers building using the instrument then renting the housing out at full market rates.

“This problem must be immediately addressed by the Berejiklian Government, so there is a proper focus on increasing the supply of housing at prices people can afford and not just giving a leg up for developers,” he said.

“Undoubtedly there is a serious need for affordable housing to be built all across Sydney, in particular to ensure that essential workers like teachers, nurses, cooks, cleaners, police and porters are able to live close to where they work.

“However this SEPP is a tool for developers to build sub-par apartments they can pimp out at well above market price for rent and then onsell in 10 years’ time as ‘snug, boutique apartments’  without any accountability”

“While the concept of affordable housing is a good one, the lack of accountability and enforcement of this SEPP means that often these tiny apartments are incredibly unaffordable and the key workers who they’re designed for cannot afford to rent them” — Adam Searle MLC, Shadow Minister for Planning and Better Living

“The lack of accountability and regulation has meant that in the Eastern Suburbs, properties built under the pretence of being affordable housing are being used as backpacker accommodation or expensive university accommodation, in complete violation of the SEPP,” he said.