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Red tape outrage: NAB boss tells of Qld land developer's 20-year wait for approval


NAB boss Ross McEwan has highlighted the case of a Sunshine Coast man whose housing development was delayed for 20 years by red tape in a speech where he called for major reforms of the housing sector.

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While welcoming moves by state and federal governmetns to streamline approvals, McEwan said Australia must find a way to fix the issue which has led to a housing shortage and 120,000 homeless people.

He said the case of the Sunshine Coast customer and that of a developer from Western Australia who was still chasing approvals for a housing project a decade after it was proposed, were not isolated.

“Many companies are required to navigate multiple processes across jurisdictions. Writing a home loan can require different processes based on which state the buyer is in,” he said.

“A co-ordinated response federal, state and territory governments is needed to implement faster, consistent and simpler planning approvals.

“We are not building enough homes for our growing population and over time that can only push up house prices further.

“The critical housing shortage has a more significant impact on younger Australians and will weigh on future generations if we don’t get the settings right now.

“This is not just for governments to solve. Banks, developers and community partners can move faster.”

McEwan said the higher mortgage rates and other cost of living pressures had changed behaviours, even within the bank.

He said Australians were more engaged with the finances and cost of living was the greatest driver of stress “by a long margin”.

He said many of the bank’s customers were budgeting for the first time.

“Customers are making considered changes to their spending that is saving them, on average about $300 a month as the cut back on things like eating out and car trips to save fuel,” he said.

“A story close to home at NAB. In our offices, we’re seeing long queues at the complimentary coffee machines as our colleagues swap a $5 takeaway for a free office brew. Nobody was using the machines a year ago.”

He said despite the pressures, customers were coping well. The mortgages NAB has in possession were below pre-Covid levels and below the 10-year average.

Despite that, he said people were still hurting.

“So overall, the economy might be weaker than last year but it’s still in pretty shape.


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