15 January 2024

Regions to descend on Canberra seeking solutions to housing crisis

| Chris Johnson
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Old Parliament House

Old Parliament House will host the upcoming regional housing summit. Photo: Aditya Joshi.

Regional Australia has a housing crisis and Old Parliament House in Canberra will next month host a congregation of regional leaders and concerned citizens looking for answers to the growing problem.

The National Regional Housing Summit 2024, to be held on Friday, 9 February, will discuss home ownership, social and affordable housing, and rental availability across the various regional housing markets in Australia.

Presented by the Regional Australia Institute (RAI), the summit is described as a ‘critical conversation’ for regional Australia and crucial for decision-makers and influencers working to address the housing crisis.

It will hear from, among others, those implementing and advocating for regional, place-based solutions to housing challenges.

RAI chief executive officer Liz Ritchie said although regional Australia is experiencing extraordinary change, with more people than ever looking to make a life outside the cities and regional job vacancies continuing to reach monthly record highs, housing is still impeding growth in the regions.

Rental vacancies are at all-time lows and new housing is falling behind the needs of the population.

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Ms Ritchie said regional Australia is on the frontline of Australia’s housing challenge.

About 9.6 million people now call the regions home, and while the regional rental vacancy rate has increased from 1 per cent to 1.5 per cent, and is higher than capital cities (1.1 per cent), monthly building approvals in the regions have declined.

There are some regional and rural towns, however, where rental availability remains below 0.1 per cent.

Opening the RAI’s Regions Rising Summit in September last year, Ms Ritchie described housing and workforce targets as the Achilles’ heel of regional Australia.

“Regional employers across the country have been telling us that it’s getting harder and harder to fill roles,” Ms Ritchie said.

“Also, having the right homes to accommodate new staff is a critical factor and that is why we must look at these issues in unison.”

She used that gathering to deliver her institute’s progress report one year after the launch of its Regionalisation Ambition 2032 plan. It shows that while progress is being made towards some targets, housing is seriously lagging.

Despite a population surge to regional Australia continuing over the previous 12 months, building approvals have declined and finding staff to fill critical roles has become tougher.

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Next month’s housing summit will convene local governments and communities, federal and state governments, industry and peak body representatives, and the not-for-profit sector to identify solutions and ensure the region’s housing needs are understood and reflected in new and emerging housing policy and investment.

Participants will learn about new initiatives aimed at tackling housing crises in their own areas and be able to discuss their specific housing needs with some of their own regional leaders.

Unique place-based policy and investment solutions that are being trialled will be presented at the summit and the institute will explain its latest research identifying various regional market clusters around the nation.

Independent Member for Indi Helen Haines will be a keynote speaker, explaining the housing crisis from the perspective of a federal MP representing a regional area.

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Graham CLEWS7:56 pm 14 Jan 24

The crisis is, first and foremost, a demand crisis, not a supply crisis. This will be made manifestly worse going forward as a result of Labor’s massive immigration programme. No supply-side solution will keep up!
Yet, this immigration is avoidable, unnecessary, unwelcome and unsustainable.
But, if i were a betting man, I’d bet avoidable demand will NOT be mentioned at this conference. There is no money to be made in doing so!

Graham CLEWS7:49 pm 14 Jan 24

Profundity not your strong suit, Eben?
Why focus on supply alone?
Why not address demand? That is the real source of the crisis! Unsustainable, environmentally disastrous immigration-fed population growth.
Where is the merit to be found in that? I can find none!

Stephen Saunders1:54 pm 14 Jan 24

Spot on, davo1. First, accelerate population growth to third world levels. Second, do useless hand-wringing with the Greens, over “social housing” and “rent freezes”. Third, show the Racist Card, to anyone who steps out of line.

Housing problem well and truly solved, eh. Aussie ingenuity at its best.

Lets bring in another 650K immigrants that would help

I thought Canberra had a housing crisis? There is a 2 bedroom townhouse purchased by ACT Housing back in May 2023, in Calwell. It was purchased for $650k had been fully renovated, beautiful backyard and still today no one has moved in. I guess we are very lucky to not have the same housing crisis as the rest of Australia????

Here’s an idea. Stop politicians from trying to regulate the rental market.

Every time the Greens grandstand & interfere with the rental market & tighten regulations for landlords investors leave the sector which results in less rental properties.

Martin Keast2:44 pm 13 Jan 24

So agree – Greens don’t understand the market – a landlord will not invest in a sector where government action could see the investment turning into a loss. So naturally, they get out of the ACT because of the baleful influence of the Green/Labor people who have no understanding of the market. Rents are regulated by the market itself, the government only causes a problem which makes investment more risky thus increasing rent and reducing supply.

Hmmm. I think we’ve seen how markers ‘regualte rents’. I guess you aren’t a renter.

I’ve been a renter AND a landlord. I try to be fair. I’ve has mainly good tenants but also had my rentals trashed.
Government can’t control rental prices unless it also controls the interest rates banks charge the landlord.

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