Federal Budget a mixed bag for architecture

9 May 2018

Last night’s Federal Budget included a mixed bag of initiatives with personal tax cuts, infrastructure investment and support for older Australians the biggest ticket items.

Unlike last year when housing affordability formed the centrepiece, specific housing measures remained on the fringes this time around but still included some notable developments, said Australian Institute of Architects National President Richard Kirk.

‘The Institute is certainly pleased to see the Federal Government funding the new National Housing and Homelessness Agreement, providing $7 billion in housing funding and an additional $620 million for homelessness services over the next five years,’ Mr Kirk said.

‘In particular we are delighted that just over half a billion dollars has been put towards improving housing outcomes for Indigenous Australians in the Northern Territory.

‘New measures supporting export and trade, including $15 million over four years for a package of initiatives to support Australian businesses and maximise commercial opportunities in overseas markets are particularly welcome. The Australian architectural profession is highly regarded internationally, and this will assist to expand the reputation of Australian architects, as will the funding of Australia’s participation in Expo 2020 Dubai.

‘The Government is continuing to invest in a pipeline of infrastructure projects worth $75 billion over ten years and this will be important to achieving high standards of connectivity as our country grows in population.

‘We applaud the Government’s $5 billion commitment to Melbourne’s Airport Rail Link along with other critical rail works around the country and hope to see additional investment in improving public transport networks in all states and territories in future budgets.

‘Similarly, the $1 billion Urban Congestion Fund is welcome to tackle hot spots but highlights that our growth has historically not been well managed.

‘Better planning across all levels of government as well as proper investment in transport connections would go a long way to alleviating the need for such band-aid measures.

‘The Government has missed an opportunity to establish a Federal Government Architect, the benefits of which are increasingly plain to see and being adopted at a State and Territory level. This is a critical initiative that must be implemented.

‘Likewise, sustainability and energy efficiency have been largely ignored with funding focused on implementation of the Finkel Review as the highlight of the energy measures. As we have said previously, the focus must switch to the demand side of the equation and harness the opportunities offered by the built environment if we are to achieve real progress.’