Transcript of Question & Answer Session Economic Conditions in Australia – Some Implications for the Kimberley


Thanks, Merylin. We’re going to ask anyone if they would want to put forward any questions to us at this time, because we do have morning tea coming up. Just your name and also who you’re representing this morning before we put the questions forward, thank you.

Chrissy (Department of Local Government Sport and Cultural Industry)

Hi, my name’s Chrissy. I’m from the Department of Local Government Sport and Cultural Industry. So, a lot of stuff around economics is a little bit of a mystery to me because I’m really a sport person. But one of our big issues up here is housing and especially in our remote communities. So, obviously this issue between the Feds and the state in getting agreement for remote area housing and also, you know, the construction industry and getting the job done. What sort of a role do you guys actually play in informing or influencing that?

Merylin Coombs

Yes, thanks for that. So, in terms of the Reserve Bank, I guess we’ve got two ways to influence housing at the broader level. But then thinking about that in terms of the specifics that you raise of remote housing. At the broad level, the interest rate affects people: a lower interest rate should encourage more housing being built in the private market and a higher interest rate should discourage more housing being built. So, I think the example that you’ve got there is one that’s sort of not necessarily a market that is responsive to interest rates or not. So kind of our main policy tool there isn’t one that’s quite so relevant. But I suppose what we actually see as our role around the housing issue nationally is to be a very good source of research and information, and facts as to what people do actually face out there. Whether it’s the sort of affordability, recognising that affordability isn’t just about being able to buy a house. It’s actually being able to access a house through many different forms, up through the different forms of either being a renter or some sort of socially provided housing or the private market.

So, we’ve tried to put a lot information in the public sphere so that policymakers who do have some direct tools to be able to make decisions on actually can have some good information out there on which to base it on. And certainly, in any of the sort of social remote housing space I guess the message we get from our liaison with community associations is that there’s excess demand. There are very large waiting lists and therefore thinking about well what is the affordability constraints on people who, if they don’t have that social housing angle, what is the private market doing for those people, is really quite broad. So I guess our main role is to try and make sure that there’s good factual analysis out there around recognising that there’s those different parts the housing market, it’s not just about people buying their first house. That’s not the only conversation that’s happening.