22 June 2021

Call for Barnaby Joyce to put regional housing crisis on the national agenda

| Kim Treasure
Join the conversation
Barnaby Joyce

Newly elected Deputy Prime Minster Barnaby Joyce. Photo: Sportsbet.

The NSW South Coast’s housing shortage is causing rents to spiral, with the region’s price increases recorded in the past 12 months only surpassed by those in the Broken Hill/Dubbo regions, according to SQM Research.

The investment research house – which specialises in providing research and data to financial institutions, investment professionals and investors – said rents increased 24.9 per cent on the NSW South Coast, while rents in Broken Hill/Dubbo rose by 25.4 per cent.

By comparison, rents in the Riverina region rose by 10.6 per cent, and the smallest increase in regional NSW during the past 12 months was in the Murray region at 7.9 per cent.

The national campaign against homelessness, Everybody’s Home, released the figures this week as part of an appeal to new Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce to put the soaring cost of regional housing and the shortfall of social housing at the centre of national affairs.

READ ALSO Rental housing ‘crisis’ as vacancies fall below one per cent

Mr Joyce was elected Nationals leader in a party room ballot in Canberra on Monday, 21 June, defeating Riverina MP Michael McCormack and returning to the job he lost more than three years ago.

Everybody’s Home described his return as “an opportunity”.

“In 2019, Mr Joyce recognised the affordability crisis facing renters in the bush when he said, ‘Certainly $555 or thereabouts a fortnight is difficult, especially in regional areas. Especially if your rent is $250 a week, well, you’re not really going to get by,’” said Kate Colvin, national spokesperson for Everybody’s Home.

“Since then, regional rents have soared as people on big city incomes have moved to the regions to take advantage of post-COVID-19 pandemic work-from-home opportunities.”

On the South Coast, that pressure has been exacerbated by the Black Summer bushfires, which destroyed almost 2500 NSW homes in 2019-2020.

READ ALSO Bushfires a wake-up call for the future, say ANU scientists

In Batemans Bay, the median rent for a three-bedroom house is now $430, and for a two-bedroom unit is $350.

Ms Colvin said an expansion of social and affordable housing is the best way to balance the system and ease the pressure of the boom.

“Barnaby Joyce has demonstrated a keen understanding of the regional rental crisis – a crisis that has deteriorated badly during the past year,” she said.

“Housing has been completely upended in the bush and on the coast as people with big city incomes take advantage of working from home. This is pushing many existing residents to the brink of homelessness.

“Expanding social and affordable housing would relieve this pressure. Social and affordable housing gives people on low and modest incomes greater choice and security. This is also really important for people recovering from major life disruptions, such as health scares or relationship breakdowns.

“Many of our regional communities would also benefit from the employment boost of building more homes. Home construction has the second-largest economic multiplier of all the 114 industries that make up our economy.

“The National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation estimates that for every $1 million spent on residential construction, nine existing jobs are supported while three new ones are created.”

Join the conversation

All Comments
  • All Comments
  • Website Comments

Affordable rentals in country towns and regions where backpackers usually fill the job quotas, could solve several problems. Country living is great, and if work and housing were available I’m sure more people would take a leap of faith just to get a roof over their heads and some good country community spirit to bring up the kids.

Daily Digest

Do you like to know what’s happening around your region? Every day the About Regional team packages up our most popular stories and sends them straight to your inbox for free. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.