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The Hon. John Howard OM AC: Lessons From a Leader

There is no easy solution to the housing affordability challenge, said former prime minister John Howard. The great Australian dream is regarded as the “inherited right” of all young Australians, but we also live with the “paradox” of a vast country that is also one of the world’s most urbanised. A succession of local and state governments, opposed to the urban expansion and renewal, had kept the handbrake on supply, and this had clear consequences, he said.

Mr Howard – who famously called housing affordability a “barbecue stopper” in 2003 – pointed to the most recent Demographia International Housing Affordability Index, which this year surveyed 92 cities in eight countries. “Only one city, namely Hong Kong, was less affordable than Sydney.”

Despite the challenges in our own backyard, and global challenges of pandemics and geopolitics, Mr Howard said Australia remained a “lucky country” that had made its own luck. Any Australian would be a “fool” not to be optimistic “about our present and our future”. The property industry and the people within it played a “great part in the Australian story”.

As Property Council chief executive Ken Morrison brought two days of discussion and debate to a close, he reflected on the success formula of what had been the largest Property Congress in four decades. The Property Congress brought together inspiring leaders and innovative ideas, but most importantly it was “a celebration of resilience, connection and optimism for the future”.

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