PROPERTY development industry group, Urban Taskforce, this week said the Australian Government should not be advancing plans to recognise local councils in the Australian Constitution while councils "are busily contributing to the nation's housing undersupply."
The call follows the government's announcement this week that it has appointed members of an independent expert panel established to progress the recognition of local government in the Australian Constitution.
The government has committed to a referendum on the matter at, or before, the next election.
The Urban Taskforce's chief executive, Aaron Gadiel, said the government should address the problems created by local government before it commences an "arcane discussion" about their recognition in the Constitution.
Mr Gadiel said that local councils have played a major role in blocking new housing supply and making housing less accessible to a wide range of ordinary Australians.
"Local councils in Australia deliver less services, are smaller, and more parochial than local government authorities in other parts of the developed world," Mr Gadiel said.
He added that many councils have been captured by 'not-in-my-backyard' groups and are acting against the interests of the wider community.
With Australia's housing shortfall at 200,000 homes – projected to increase to 308,000 by 2014 – Mr Gadiel said entrenching the existing system of local government by constitutional amendment will permanently lock-in the nation's current housing supply problems.
"The Federal Government should focus on resolving the more substantial issues, before local government is rewarded in this way."
"This issue shouldn't be a priority right now," Mr Gadiel said.