Australia’s housing disaster takes critical turn


The Albanese government’s target is to build 1.2 million homes over five years, requiring 20,000 homes to be built monthly.

On Thursday, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) released dwelling approvals data, which suggested the construction run rate is around 40% below the government’s target, with only 12,400 homes approved for construction in February in trend terms:

Monthly dwelling approvals

As shown above, in trend terms, monthly approvals have fallen to their lowest level since April 2012.


In annual terms, Australia’s dwelling approvals fell to 162,750, which is around 77,000 below the Albanese government’s housing target and the lowest reading since March 2013:

Annual dwelling approvals

The following chart plots dwelling approvals by state and shows that the decline has been led by the three largest jurisdictions, New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland:

Dwelling approvals by state

The collapse in approvals is problematic since it has coincided with the largest immigration and population surge in Australia’s history, which saw the nation’s population swell by a record 660,000 people in the year to September 2023:

Australian population change

The latest population data from the ABS showed that 82% of Australia’s population growth last financial year was in the capital cities.

However, dwelling approvals across the combined capitals collapsed to only 117,500 in the year to February, which was the lowest reading since March 2013:

Dwelling approvals capital cities

No matter which way you slice the data, it is disastrous for Australian tenants, who are already suffering from the lowest rental vacancy rates on record and soaring rental inflation.

Rental vacancy rates

The Albanese government’s housing targets have no hope of being achieved, and the gap between housing construction and immigration-driven demand continues to grow.

Median advertised rents

By recklessly engineering the biggest migration boom in history, the Albanese government has consigned Australian tenants to a future of permanent shortages, rental stress, shared housing, and homelessness.

Australian renters should be marching with rage in the streets at the harm being inflicted upon them.

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.