Learning from the Brits

Australians don’t like to think that we have much in common with ‘the Poms’.

It’s true they can’t play cricket, rarely see the sun and don’t have a decent beach, but they are facing similar challenges when it comes to housing affordability, increasing housing supply and encouraging greater institutional investment in housing.

If we can learn from them, we should. That is why I was in London last week meeting with UK industry leaders.

The Brits are facing these challenges during a time of political upheaval.

Brexit was more than a vote on trade and economic integration with Europe. It has become a proxy for people’s satisfaction with the economic trajectory of their country.

The message is that many people don’t believe they are sharing in the benefits that come from growth.

We can all feel similar rumblings here – and announcements by various state governments about new foreign investor taxes, and more recently suggestions we cut back immigration, are attempts to exploit those rumblings.

Our work must be to demonstrate how our cities are strengthening the economy and keeping people employed. Our cities are magnets – not just for people, but for jobs, investment and prosperity.

We also need more housing supply, and the emerging UK 'build to rent' asset class offers important learnings for Australia. There is an opportunity to provide institutionally owned rental accommodation, specifically designed for purpose, professionally managed and with more appealing tenure. Our Residential Development Council is conducting research into this now.

None of this is easy – because long-term solutions are always harder to sell than snake-oil quick fixes.

These are challenging times to be involved in advocacy (and it's not going to get easier) but you can be assured that we will put the case for robust policies that encourage investment, support supply and drive jobs.