Member for Western Victoria
Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party

Big Housing Build

Mr GRIMLEY (Western Victoria) (17:02):  My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Planning and Minister for Housing. The action that I seek is for the minister to allocate an adequate portion of the Big Housing Build’s minimum investment guarantee to smaller regional and rural councils. This will provide affordable and social housing as well as for selling and general housing stock to fix the housing crisis in regional Victoria.  While visiting the Northern Grampians, Yarriambiack and Beulah councils this year, a common theme kept arising. Each shire is having problems with a lack of rental housing, residential development and homes to buy. This is in stark contrast to larger regional areas and metropolitan cities. If you look on, you will find between these three LGAs there are only 21 properties available to rent. They include seven in Ararat and five in St Arnaud, and that leaves just nine properties for rent in all other towns. Stawell, a town of over 6000 people, has just one property available to rent. For a comparison, Geelong has more than 400 properties available to rent and Ballarat 270. This short supply of rentals in these towns—I must sound like a broken record repeating this—makes it difficult to attract workers to fill job vacancies. The Northern Grampians alone has more than 150 job vacancies that need to be filled, some of which pay over $100 000 a year, yet due to the distance from major cities and a lack of available housing these jobs will struggle to be filled. No rentals lead to jobs being unfilled, which leads to people not relocating, which means developers will not create housing estates due to fears of blocks being unsold. Councils then cannot increase revenue through new ratepayers, which means less investment in infrastructure. It is a vicious cycle that must be broken. I would also like to point out again, as I have many times, that without housing stock, finding emergency accommodation is also near impossible. We have seen this across the south-west especially. Women, children and other victims of domestic violence deserve better. During my meetings with local councils, there were suggestions that they might need to become quasi-developers. This shows the desperation of some councils to get houses built.  The government’s Big Housing Build program is a good initiative that has given 18 regional and rural councils part of the minimum investment guarantee, but I have 24 councils in Western Victoria, of which only five have been given an allocated part of this minimum investment. What about the 19 other councils? These are the ones who are suffering through financial hardship and housing shortages. Smaller regional and rural councils need to be allocated a good chunk of the Big Housing Build, and I encourage the minister to work with them to ensure the money goes to the right places.


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