Layers to housing crisis

Bundaberg Mayor Jack Dempsey

Four months ago I called for a national housing summit and I still believe that’s how we start to address the accommodation crisis we’re currently facing.

There are so many layers to this problem and so many stakeholders that everybody should be called together and locked in a room until there’s an agreed pathway.

Local government stands ready, willing and able to play a part but can’t act in isolation.

If one council makes changes to a planning scheme (which takes a long time) or regulates short-stay accommodation, they risk shifting the problem to another area. These things should be determined at a state level.

If one council opens a recreation reserve for camping, people might come from everywhere.

Who pays for it and who accepts liability?

Again, these things should be part of a national or state approach.

I don’t think it’s helpful when politicians snipe from the sidelines and blame other levels of government.

There’s no overnight fix but there needs to be immediate short-term relief for people in need.

Churches and welfare agencies have a role to play, and the Federal Government should assist with funding.

Rental subsidies should be offered, tenancy laws should be reviewed, and more social housing is desperately needed.

Do we turn holiday parks into temporary camps for working families who can’t get rental accommodation?

That’s an idea that could be considered but there would be consequences for the tourism industry, and issues around management, cost and liability need to be considered at a state or national level.

The private sector should be encouraged to get on with building approved developments and innovation should be incentivised, eg mobile homes.

Bundaberg Regional Council has issued development approvals for hundreds of dwellings over the past few years which haven’t been constructed because the industry has been smashed with rising costs and shortages of materials and labour.

Addressing these challenges requires a state and national approach.

I’ll say it again because it’s common sense … the Federal Government should convene a national housing summit and reach consensus with the states and all stakeholders on a way forward.