Regional Australia is experiencing an unprecedented housing crisis.
Indi is facing a massive housing crisis. In the 35 years I’ve lived in the North East, I’ve never seen anything like it.
People both young and old, are getting priced out of rentals. Two-income families are struggling to purchase their first house. Elderly people can’t find suitablehomes to live in as they age. Local small businesses want to hire workers but there is no accommodation available close by. I hear these stories everywhere I go in Indi.
As your Independent MP, I’ve been working with the Government to tackle the housing shortages in regional Australia – and my work continues.
Bringing forward solutions to unlock regional housing
For regional Australians struggling to find a place to call home, there isn’t a one size fits all solution.
In Indi there is a serious lack of critical enabling infrastructure needed to open up new land to build more homes. We’re talking about poles and pipes, pavement and parks, drainage and sewerage infrastructure. It isn’t sexy, but it’s critically important.
In 2023 I introduced my Unlocking Regional Housing Bill to Parliament, which would guarantee dedicated funding for enabling infrastructure in rural, regional and remote Australia.
If the major parties are serious about tackling the housing crisis, they should back my Bill.
Councils in the regions can struggle to attract developers to invest in enabling infrastructure, and with a small ratepayer base and large geographical areas to cover, councils simply don’t have the money to build it alone.
So, I’ve also taken a proposal to the Government to establish a $2 billion Rural Housing Infrastructure Fund which would go a long way in tackling this crisis.
What I've achieved
- Introduced the Unlocking Regional Housing Bill to Parliament, with support from regional crossbench MPs Andrew Gee, Bob Katter and Rebekha Sharkie.
- Garnered support from advocates including the Regional Australia Institute.
- Presented the Housing Minister with a petition in support of my Bill, signed by more than 2,000 people.
- Secured a $500 million Housing Support Program which will connect essential services and amenities need to support new housing.
- Met with the Prime Minister to raise the concerns of Indi councils
- Moved a motion calling on the Government to establish a dedicated enabling infrastructure fund for regional Australia.
- Made a submission to the Treasurer calling on the Government to fund the RHIF.
Making the Housing Australia Future Fund work for the regions
Labor’s Housing Australia Future Fund (HAFF) was touted as one of the Government’s most significant reforms to housing policy. It was a much-needed start. Yet the legislation the Government introduced did not deliver for rural, regional and remote Australians.
I successfully amended the Bill to ensure regional Australians were considered in the HAFF’s work.
More improvements must be made to housing policy so all Australians benefit, not just those living in the big cities.
What I've achieved
- Successfully moved amendments to the Bill to:
- Ensure at least one member of the National Housing Supply and Affordability Council (which provides advice to Government on housing policy) has demonstrated and relevant experience or expertise in housing needs in regional, rural and remote Australia.
- Ensure the National Housing Supply and Affordability Council considers the impacts of geographical location (e.g. regional, rural or remote location) on housing supply and affordability and on the demand for affordable housing.
Supporting innovative housing projects in our region
Wangaratta has the potential to unlock hundreds of social and affordable homes.
Nestd, a not-for-profit housing developer, is working with the Rural City of Wangaratta to deliver 200 safe, energy-efficient, quality homes for young people, pensioners, women at risk of homelessness and essential workers, on the former Ovens College site.
I’ll keep pressuring the Government to fund this project because I’m steadfast in my commitment to delivering more housing for our regional communities.
There is potential for more innovative housing projects across our region, creating more affordable housing for those who most need it. I will support these projects to help create more housing in our towns.
What I've achieved
- Secured a meeting with the Housing Minister and Nestd, and the Mayor and CEO of Rural City of Wangaratta to present their plans for the Old Ovens College site.
- Provided a letter of support for a funding application for Nestd’s proposal.
- Brought Nathan Dal Bon, CEO of Housing Australia to Wangaratta to inspect the site.