Australia

Building approvals rise 11.4 per cent in August 2011

FOLLOWING a modest rise of 1.8 per cent in July, dwelling approvals rose 11.4 per cent in August 2011, in seasonally adjusted terms, according to new figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Dwelling approvals increased for the month of August in New South Wales (45.2 per cent), Queensland (19.7 per cent), Tasmania (17.2 per cent), Victoria (7.3 per cent) and Western Australia (5.5 per cent), in seasonally adjusted terms.  However, South Australia recorded a decrease (-4.1 per cent).

In seasonally adjusted terms, approvals for private sector houses fell 1.0 per cent in August with falls in Victoria (-9.6 per cent), New South Wales (-4.3 per cent) and South Australia (-0.1 per cent). Queensland (16.0 per cent) and Western Australia (1.6 per cent) both recorded rises.

The value of total building approved increased 14.2 per cent in August, in seasonally adjusted terms. The value of total residential building rose 10.8 per cent while non-residential building rose 20.3 per cent.

While residential building approvals recorded a solid rise for the month, the Housing Industry Association (HIA) said the core detached housing sector continues to slide downhill.

HIA Senior Economist, Andrew Harvey, said the rise in August was driven by a 31 per cent increase in the "highly volatile 'other dwellings' segment of the market". 

"Meanwhile, detached housing was down by 0.4 per cent for the month and unfortunately this gives a better indication of the inherent weakness that exists within the new home building industry at the present time," Mr Harvey said.

He also said constraints on the supply side of the housing market, including excessive taxation, "continue to sit as the elephant in the room when it comes to discussion over why Australia does not build enough houses each year."

The Urban Taskforce's chief executive, Aaron Gadiel, said that while the August numbers were a helpful boost, caution should be exercised when interpreting them.

"These monthly figures are highly volatile and can be disproportionately influenced by small spikes in the number of multi-dwelling approvals issued in a single month," Mr Gadiel said.

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