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Sunday, January 24, 2016

Urban development in Australia comprises much less than 1 % of the land area.

Access to land at root of soaring house prices * Alan Moran * From: Herald Sun * March 04, 2011 12:00AM Posted Image Looking for land: Planning procedures are barriers to new housing development. Source: News Limited IN 2004, a report by the Commonwealth's normally reliable Productivity Commission (PC) completely misread the causes of high house prices. It failed to recognise that government planning processes had boosted house prices by starving the market of land for urban development. The PC instead blamed interest rates. Since then house prices have defied gravity even though interest rates have gone up and down. A new study by the PC into planning and zoning concludes that government regulation of land availability is the cause of Australia's high house prices. It demonstrates how planning procedures are barriers to new housing development. "Objectives overload" is how the PC describes why all Australian states suffer from excessively high house prices caused by government squeezing land supply. As well as unlocking land for housing, planning aims to promote environmental, social, safety, waste management and a host of other goals. As a result, the PC's new study shows that even after receiving in-principle approval to build, "in greenfield areas . . . as many as 10 years may pass between the time a developable parcel of land is assembled and the subdivision of that land is completed". Over the past 40 years, town planning has morphed from facilitating urban expansion into preventing it. Instead of supporting consumers' requirements by identifying what is needed in terms of trunk roads, mainline water and sewerage facilities etc, planning now seeks to cannibalise urban development in directions preferred by the planners themselves and by politicians. The result is increased costs that are paid for by new house buyers. One rationalisation for planning controls over the location of new housing is that development involves costs to governments. Nowadays, however, government costs in new urban expansions are largely confined to trunk roads and schools. These costs are dwarfed by those the new home buyer pays in land development, local roads, water and sewerage facilities, electricity and telecommunications, etc. Yet, the government costs, which frequently carry excessive charges, often dictate planning and zoning approvals. The PC demonstrates that using planning regulations to prevent "urban sprawl" is not justified for Australia. Unlike densely populated Hong Kong, one of the few jurisdictions with higher house prices than Australia, urban development in this country comprises much less than 1 per cent of the land area. Unfortunately, there are pressures to intensify "objectives overload" in the planning system. The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) with its intrinsically heavy-handed bureaucratic procedures has got involved. COAG's chief bureaucrat Terry Moran has called for "co-ordinated infrastructure, transport and land use plans, clearly identified priorities for future government investment and policy effort, and to enhanced collaboration between all three levels of government". By adding new layers of costs and delays that approach would further gum-up the process. At one time, entrepreneurs like Alan Bond simply bought scrubland close to the city, built local roads and subdivided land with little input from government. At present day prices, such ready-to-build upon blocks would cost $70,000. That's a far cry from the $200,000-plus slug for new buyers looking to build on the outskirts of Melbourne, let alone the $350,000 required for Sydney. Alan Moran is the Director, Deregulation at the Institute of Public Affairs. ======================================================== 150 years of mining to end as Rio Tinto closes Blair Athol mine in central Queensland by end of year John Mccarthy The Courier-Mail August 09, 2012 12:00AM RIO Tinto's Blair Athol mine in central Queensland will close by the end of the year. Blair Athol has had a history of stop-start mining since coal was first discovered there in 1864. Rio opened its main mine in 1984. The end came because of higher costs, the exchange rate and the "significant drop in thermal coal prices". But its end had been predicted five years ago, as the easier-to-reach coal seams began to run out. The decision follows a shutdown by BHP Billiton of one of its seven joint-venture mines in the Bowen Basin earlier this year for similar reasons. Rio said there were about 170 employees and contractors at the mine. About 30 positions will be retained after production finishes in the coal handling and preparation plant and rail load-out facilities, which will continue to be used for coal from the nearby Rio-operated Clermont Mine, as well as care and maintenance work in the lead-up to a rehabilitation program. Clermont region general manager (operations) Dawid Pretorius said the majority of employees wanted to take a redundancy. Redeployment was possible. Read more: http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/national/years-of-mining-to-end-as-rio-tinto-closes-blair-athol-mine-in-central-queensland-by-end-of-year/story-fndo45r1-1226446255855 ================================================ strawman - a person used as a cover for some questionable activity ≡figurehead, front man, nominal head, straw man, front ↔beguiler, cheater, deceiver, trickster, slicker, cheat - someone who leads you to believe something that is not true 2. strawman - a weak or sham argument set up to be easily refuted ------------ spruik (ˈspruːɪk) vb (intr) archaic slang Austral (Of, relating to, or coming from the south.) to speak in public (used esp of a showman or salesman) ==================

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