According to Real Estate Institute of Queensland’s vacancy report, which was released in April, Rockhampton’s vacancy rate was at 0.4 per cent.
According to Real Estate Institute of Queensland’s vacancy report, which was released in April, Rockhampton’s vacancy rate was at 0.4 per cent.

War of words erupts over growing CQ housing crisis

Federal Member for Capricornia Michelle Landry is calling on the state Labor members for Rockhampton and Keppel to step up and help Central Queensland’s “housing crisis”.

In a letter addressed to The Morning Bulletin, Ms Landry claimed Member for Rockhampton Barry O’Rourke and Member for Keppel Brittany Lauga had a “if I look away it will go away” attitude to local issues, including Central Queensland’s “housing affordability crisis”.

According to Real Estate Institute of Queensland’s vacancy report, which was released in April, Rockhampton’s vacancy rate was at 0.4 per cent, with Central Queensland residents finding it difficult to get into the housing market as rental prices were increased or put up for sale.

OPINION BY MICHELLE LANDRY

“The local state Labor members for Rockhampton and Keppel love to talk, but on this one they have been caught out by their ‘if I look away it will go away’ attitude to local issues.

I speak of the housing crisis right across Central Queensland.

Federal Member for Capricornia Michelle Landry. Picture: Gary Ramage
Federal Member for Capricornia Michelle Landry. Picture: Gary Ramage

The fact is, I’m sad to say on the local state members collective watch Central Queensland has plunged into a housing affordability crisis.

Experts say Central Queensland is in the epicentre of a perfect storm in the housing market as soaring rents and a lack of accommodation options threaten the most vulnerable in our community.

The facts are this:

  • Housing stock in Central Queensland has decreased 28.5 per cent in the past decade.
  • Rental vacancies in Rockhampton are around 0.2 per cent.
  • Rental vacancies in Livingstone are around 0.4 per cent.
  • Young people are struggling to get into the housing market while our most vulnerable are groaning under the weight of out of control rentals.

So, what do the local members do or say? The answer is very little.

The strategy appears to be: ‘Hmm nothing to see here but look over there at what the Federal Government are doing’.

Well I will tell you what we are doing. In 2020/21, the Federal Government allocated more than $8.2 billion in housing and homelessness programs, which includes $1.6 billion in support to the states and territories to deliver state social housing through the National Housing and Homelessness Agreement.

Queensland will receive $327.3 million under the NHHA in 2020/21, including $32.8 million in dedicated homelessness funding.

The state member for Rockhampton in a previous life was the ‘Regional Director Central Queensland and North Coast Region’ at the Department of Housing and Public Works. This is his patch; this is his area of expertise.

The silence and apparent ineptitude of the Queensland Government over the last few years, to make any attempt to look at ways to pre-empt or even solve the housing crisis in Central Queensland, is frankly sad and depressing.

I would urge both the local state members to stop trying to chalk up cheap political points and do the job the voters need and expect to them to do. To give the people of Capricornia a decent life.

– Michelle Landry, Federal Member for Capricornia

Mr O’Rourke said the Queensland Government’s $1.6 billion Housing Construction Jobs Program was the “largest investment in social housing since World War II”, delivering “more than 5500 new social housing and affordable homes across Queensland by 2027”.

“This includes 60 new social housing homes in the Central Queensland region by 2022, 34 of which have already been completed,” he said.

Member for Rockhampton Barry O'Rourke.
Member for Rockhampton Barry O'Rourke.

“In stark contrast, the Federal Government has turned its back on Queenslanders experiencing housing stress, walking away from the National Rental Affordability Scheme and National Partnership on Remote Housing.”

“Queenslanders are feeling effects of these decisions, and with their budget only weeks away Scott Morrison should stand up and support housing in this state.”

Ms Lauga said that in February she inspected the status of a $2.1 million project in Frenchville, which was part of an unprecedented social housing expansion in Central Queensland aimed at “delivering 60 new homes over five years”.

“The Queensland Government is investing the money in this project to provide for five one-bedroom and two two-bedroom apartments in Frenchville,” she said.

“The new homes will provide safe, secure and affordable housing for Central Queenslanders in need.

Member for Keppel Brittany Lauga.
Member for Keppel Brittany Lauga.

“The Housing Construction Jobs Program is a key initiative of the Queensland Housing Strategy which will provide a $1.6 billion investment to deliver more social and affordable housing over 10 years (2017–2027) in priority regions across the state.

“The program is a response to the demand for housing affordability across Queensland and the need for an additional supply of social housing to keep pace with population growth.

“Over the first five years (2017–2022) of the Strategy, the department has committed to invest $35.5 million to deliver 60 new social housing homes in the Central Queensland region, prioritised for the region’s anticipated population growth over 10 years.

“Growth in Rockhampton and the Capricorn Coast is accelerating, and the Queensland Government is working hard to meet the demand for social housing.

“This investment is expected to support approximately 20 full-time industry jobs each year.”

Partnering with Queensland Council of Social Service, AnglicareCQ and 11 other organisations have launched a campaign calling on the Queensland Government to invest $4.1 billion over four years to build 14,700 social housing dwellings for those most in need.

According to AnglicareCQ, there are “47,036 Queenslanders on the state’s social housing register”, and all are without a safe and stable home.

AnglicareCQ CEO Carol Godwin said everyone deserved a place to call home.

“Housing is an essential basic need that many people are not afforded and serves as a foundation for health, wellbeing and improved life outcomes,” Ms Godwin said.

AnglicareCQ CEO Carol Godwin. Picture: Contributed
AnglicareCQ CEO Carol Godwin. Picture: Contributed

“With record low vacancy rates and the phasing out of the National Rental Affordability Scheme, housing affordability and availability is at crisis point.

“The flow on effect is a significant increase in individuals and families moving into homelessness.

“It’s important we create safe and secure homes that can be assessable for all people in our community.”

The Town of Nowhere campaign includes real life stories of Queenslanders who are experiencing housing insecurity.

For more information on the campaign, go to townofnowhere.com.