Housing starts suffered their biggest fall for nine years in the December quarter, dragged down by a savage 54% fall in the number of high-rise apartments under construction in Queensland.

Sods were turned on 32,637 houses and apartments around the country in the December quarter, down 10 per cent on the September quarter, which was itself down 9% on the June quarter.

However, the December figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics are expected to mark the steepest decline of the cycle. A cumulative four-percentage-point cut in interest rates and greater incentives for first-home owners are expected to draw home buyers out of their shells.

The Australian