Former Reserve Bank chief Glenn Stevens advises NSW on housing affordability

Glenn Stevens says housing affordability is a “growing challenge for many residents of NSW”. Photo: Louie DouvisFormer Reserve Bank of Australia governor Glenn Stevens will advise the NSW government on measures to improve housing affordability that are expected to be unveiled during or before the next budget.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced on Wednesday that a cross-government working group had been established “to explore all options to make housing more affordable for NSW residents”.

Housing affordability was one of three priorities announced by Ms Berejiklian upon becoming Premier in January.

She said Mr Stevens accepted a “personal invitation” to review and advise “on the options being considered by the government to tackle housing affordability issues in the state, and in Sydney in particular”.

A spokeswoman said Mr Stevens would not be a member of the working group – which includes senior officials from the Department of Premier and Cabinet, Treasury and Planning – or provide formal recommendations.

But she said he would be free to raise issues he felt were being overlooked or were otherwise important.

The working group is expected to deliver recommendations to the government in time for Treasurer Dominic Perrottet’s first budget, which is likely to be in June.

Mr Stevens, who retired as RBA governor in 2016, said housing affordability “is a growing challenge for many residents of NSW and I look forward to working with the government on measures that might help address it”.

“I am pleased that the government has indicated it has an open mind when it comes to reviewing existing and new avenues of dealing with the issue,” he said.

Ms Berejiklian and Mr Perrottet have not indicated what type of policy changes are under consideration – such as stamp duty changes – but have said boosting housing supply is the biggest “lever” for the NSW government.

Also on Wednesday, Planning Minister Anthony Roberts said housing completions in NSW reached the highest level since 1972.

Mr Roberts said more than 33,000 homes were built in the year to November 2016.

“NSW is experiencing a boom in housing construction like we’ve never seen before, with record housing approvals and completions an important ingredient in our quest to make housing affordable,” he said.