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Building approvals continue to fall
Released 2 December 2011

A drop in building approvals in October 2011 to their lowest level since March 2009 has resulted in calls for the Reserve Bank of Australia to cut interest rates when it meets next week on 6 December 2011.     

Figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics released yesterday (1 December 2011) show total seasonally adjusted building approvals fell by 10.7 per cent following a downwardly revised 14.2 per cent drop in September, while detached house approvals fell by 7.6 per cent in October to their lowest level since January 2009. Approvals for other dwellings slumped by 16.7 per cent to their lowest level since October 2009.

HIA Chief Economist Harley Dale said total approvals dropped to a level 30 per cent below that of the same month last year.

“Today’s approvals update is a very weak one which serves to highlight the urgency of acting in late 2011 on both the monetary and fiscal policy front,” Dale said. “Such action would both shore up confidence and reduce the risk of housing activity plumbing the depths last seen during the GFC,” Dale said.

He said the outcome vindicates the November interest rate cut, justifies the case for a further cut next week, and highlights the folly of blindly focussing on a budget surplus objective for 2012/13.

“Building approvals over the three months to October 2011 are implying a level of housing starts around 138,000 at best, lower than the level reached in calendar year 2009 and only 6,500 higher than the trough hit in financial year 2008/09,” Harley Dale added.

There were widespread declines in building approvals across states and territories in October 2011.
Seasonally adjusted approvals fell by 0.4 per cent in New South Wales, 18.0 per cent in Victoria, 19.5 per cent in Queensland, 3.3 per cent in South Australia, and 12.9 per cent in Tasmania.

Approvals increased by 2.1 per cent in Western Australia. In trend terms, approvals fell by 11.5 per cent in the Northern Territory and were flat in the Australian Capital Territory.