ACT News


Dwelling construction jumps 31 per cent in March quarter

The ACT recorded the largest increase in dwelling construction in Australia during the first quarter of the year after work commenced on 1287 new homes, a 31 per cent increase on the fourth quarter of last year.

Data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics on Wednesday revealed dwelling construction increased by 67 per cent on March 2013 figures, with only 783 projects commenced during the first quarter of 2013.

The construction of 1287 homes during the first four months of 2014, in seasonally adjusted terms, was the largest first-quarter figure recorded in the ACT since the ABS began compiling data on dwelling construction in 1984.

Total dwelling construction fell in NSW, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, and the Northern Territory during the March quarter, with only Victoria, Western Australia and the ACT recording an increase. 

ACT Treasurer Andrew Barr said the strong results were due to stamp duty reductions, the re-targeting of the first home owner grant and the home buyer concession scheme.

"These results show that there is underlying confidence in the Canberra economy and that the long-term picture is viewed with confidence," he said.


"We are confident that the ACT government's construction stimulus measures, in conjunction to further cuts to stamp duty and low interest rates, will help continue to grow housing construction and create jobs."

But the increase in dwelling construction and plans to open new areas of urban development were not enough to stop the Housing Industry Association from giving the ACT a score 15 points lower than in its last report, the largest fall in any state or territory.

The HIA housing scorecard, released earlier this week, compared a range of housing industry indicators, including building approvals, the number of homes under construction and the number of people employed in the construction industry.

HIA chief economist Harley Dale said Canberra's housing market had been hit by the public service job cuts and the uncertainty that had caused in the ACT economy.

The new ABS data on dwelling construction comes just a week after ACT Senator Zed Seselja called on the National Capital Authority to investigate the residential development of the West Tuggeranong area.

The National Capital Authority will develop a business case and a detailed report outlining any issues that may impact the suitability of the West Murrumbidgee region for urban development.

The ACT government gave a wary response to the proposal citing many potential challenges in developing the area, but did not rule out the possibility.

Newly installed Planning Minister Mick Gentleman said the government was already working on land releases, but in other areas of Canberra such as SouthQuay in Tuggeranong and Molonglo.

"The ACT government is focusing on working within the 2013 Planning Strategy in relation to land release," he said in response to Senator Seselja’s proposal.

"I would be more than happy to meet with the National Capital Authority in my capacity as planning minister to talk about this potential new land development west of the Hyperdome.”