Australia, Canada put lipstick on housing pig


Australia is experiencing one of the most significant housing shortages in history, following population growth of 660,000 in the year to September 2023 and net dwelling additions of only 156,000 over the same period.

Housing demand and supply

The Albanese government has set a target of building 1.2 million homes over five years, requiring 20,000 homes to be built for 60 consecutive months.

However, the current dwelling approval rate of 12,400 is running around 40% below this target:

Monthly dwelling approvals

In a case of the blind leading the blind, The AFR’s Campbell Kwan believes that Australia should take a leaf out of Canada’s playbook when addressing the housing shortage:

AFR housing spruik

“With $C4 billion ($4.5 billion) on the table to support zoning rule changes and increased housing supply, the Canadian government convinced local municipalities to ditch restrictive planning laws and change rules that make development more difficult”, the article reads.

“Our federal government became very aggressive, incentivising municipalities with cold hard cash and essentially using an incentive to inspire municipalities to change their very rigid and traditional approaches to zoning which created quite a unique situation”, said Jennifer Keesmaat, Toronto’s former chief city planner.

Canada is one of the worst nations to follow regarding housing.


Canada’s major cities are ranked among the most unaffordable housing markets in the world when it comes to prices:

Canada housing affordability

This comes despite Canada’s most expensive market, Vancouver, plastering itself with high-rise apartments:

Vancouver dwelling starts

Canada’s housing shortage makes Australia’s look like child’s play:

Canada's housing shortage

Canada’s rental inflation also dwarfs Australia’s:

Population and rents in Canada

Canada and Australia do share one similarity, however. Both nations are running absurdly large immigration policies, which have entirely overwhelmed the housing supply in both markets:

Canada home building

As a result, rental vacancy rates have collapsed to record lows in both countries, which have driven significant increases in homelessness and housing stress.

Canada rental vacancy rates

If commentators in both countries were serious about addressing their housing crises, they would argue for dramatic cuts to net overseas migration to levels well below their ability to build homes and infrastructure.

Anyone claiming the housing crisis is a supply issue is either badly misguided or lying.


It is the immigration demand, stupid!

About the author
Leith van Onselen is Chief Economist at the MB Fund and MB Super. He is also a co-founder of MacroBusiness. Leith has previously worked at the Australian Treasury, Victorian Treasury and Goldman Sachs.