Pacific

Australian leader promises help on housing affordability

  • FILE - In this Aug. 10, 2016 file photo, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull speaks in Sydney. Turnbull was fending off criticism over tax concessions for investors in booming urban property markets on Wednesday, April 5, 2017,  after a central banker warned soaring house prices could threaten the economy. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft, File)

    FILE - In this Aug. 10, 2016 file photo, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull speaks in Sydney. Turnbull was fending off criticism over tax concessions for investors in booming urban property markets on Wednesday, April 5, 2017, after a central banker warned soaring house prices could threaten the economy. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this March 3, 2017 photo, visitors to Queensland Gallery of Modern Art build lego buildings against a backdrop of the condominium and office buildings along the Brisbane River in Brisbane, Australia. Australia’s prime minister was fending off criticism over tax concessions for investors in booming urban property markets on Wednesday, April 5,  after a central banker warned soaring house prices could threaten the economy. (AP Photo/Hiroshi Otabe)

    In this March 3, 2017 photo, visitors to Queensland Gallery of Modern Art build lego buildings against a backdrop of the condominium and office buildings along the Brisbane River in Brisbane, Australia. Australia’s prime minister was fending off criticism over tax concessions for investors in booming urban property markets on Wednesday, April 5, after a central banker warned soaring house prices could threaten the economy. (AP Photo/Hiroshi Otabe)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - In this Nov. 9, 2012 file photo, Britain's Prince Charles, at center in blue suit, travels on the Admiral's Barge past the Sydney city skyline as he crosses Sydney Harbour. Australia’s prime minister was fending off criticism over tax concessions for investors in booming urban property markets on Wednesday, April 5, 2017 after a central banker warned soaring house prices could threaten the economy. (AP Photo/Tim Wimborne, Pool)

    FILE - In this Nov. 9, 2012 file photo, Britain's Prince Charles, at center in blue suit, travels on the Admiral's Barge past the Sydney city skyline as he crosses Sydney Harbour. Australia’s prime minister was fending off criticism over tax concessions for investors in booming urban property markets on Wednesday, April 5, 2017 after a central banker warned soaring house prices could threaten the economy. (AP Photo/Tim Wimborne, Pool)  (The Associated Press)

Australia's prime minister is fending off criticism over tax concessions for investors in booming urban property markets after a central banker warned soaring house prices could threaten the economy.

Housing affordability has become a hot-button issue with many first-time buyers priced out of the market, especially in Sydney and Melbourne, Australia's largest cities.

Speaking Wednesday, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told reporters the government's budget for the next fiscal year, to be announced in May, will include measures to help home buyers.

But he blamed state and local governments for causing prices to rise by not releasing enough land for housing construction.

Reserve Bank of Australia governor Philip Lowe has raised concerns about a possible housing crisis as household incomes fail to keep pace with mortgage costs.