The Nationals Member for Gippsland South, Danny O’Brien says urgent action is needed to tackle the growing housing crisis across Gippsland.
Mr O’Brien said he is regularly hearing from Gippslanders who are struggling to put a roof over their heads as housing availability and affordability is constrained by rising costs, huge demand and government inaction.
“My office is regularly contacted by concerned Gippslanders who are having difficulty finding a house, whether that be to purchase, rent or through social housing,” Mr O’Brien said.
“Rental prices are soaring and that’s if you’re lucky enough to find a rental in the first place.
“On the one hand it is a good thing that there is booming demand for property in our region, but on the other hand this is pushing people down the chain from ownership to rental and even into the need for public housing – and shortages are causing significant stress.
“I understand that a number of new houses are being built across the Wellington and South Gippsland Shires for the purpose of social housing over the next year, but it is simply catching up on a backlog.
Mr O’Brien said the Andrew Labor Government’s plan to shut down the native timber industry while also increasing taxes for property developers was a recipe for disaster.
“Legislation to implement a new windfall gains tax on property developers from July 2023 that Labor pushed through parliament last year will only see costs passed on to home buyers and make housing affordability even worse.
“The Nationals opposed this tax because we know it will only hurt those in most need.
“In addition to this the push to shut down the native timber industry will only add to the rising cost of building materials – again pushing up the cost of home ownership.”
Mr O’Brien said immediate action is needed to ease the pressure on the property market and subsequent stress on social housing and related services.
“Failure to address this problem is leading to a demand on crisis accommodation services throughout Gippsland which has been unprecedented in recent years.
“People are being priced out of the property market and turning to rentals, which is driving up the cost of rentals as demand soars.
“More and more people are finding themselves at risk of homelessness despite having steady incomes as the availability of rentals just isn’t there.
“I have been contacted by one local charity that exhausted their annual budget within three months.
“This is a problem that needs a solution now. We need more housing in Gippsland and we need to make building those houses affordable and painless.
“The Nationals have committed to support local councils with planning flying squads and free up government red tape to deliver 50,000 lots across regional Victoria.
“By contrast the recent Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) Annual Report showed that approval times for planning scheme amendments, which includes planning zone changes for residential developments, have blown out by 184 per cent in the past year.
“The Andrews Labor Government needs to improve its processes to ensure housing developments are approved quickly and we get a roof over the head of more Gippsland families.”