Thursday, 9 February 2023
Sarah MANSFIELD (Western Victoria) (17:36): (30) My adjournment is to the minister representing the Minister for Consumer Affairs and relates to short-stay accommodation regulations. Rural and regional Victorians are experiencing a rental crisis. Rental vacancy rates are currently lower than in metropolitan Melbourne, and many areas of regional Victoria have some of the tightest rental markets in the country. In my region of Western Victoria, the Surf Coast shire has vacancy rates below 1 per cent and at times during the past few years has had a vacancy rate of zero. In Warrnambool, rental costs have risen by 36.4 per cent over the past five years. Meanwhile, the neighbouring Colac Otway shire has the highest rate of homelessness in Victoria, with over 30 per cent of the shire’s households experiencing rental stress, meaning they are spending more than 30 per cent of their household income on rent.
The consequences for people and our regional economies are significant. People are experiencing homelessness, poverty and displacement from their communities. Businesses, including hospitality and farms, and essential services like health, early childhood education and teaching are unable to attract workers. In these areas short-stay accommodation is abundant, but many of these holiday homes sit empty for much of the year at the expense of a family or an essential worker having access to a secure home. Victoria has some of the weakest regulation of short-stay accommodation in the country. The only thing the government has done in relation to short-stays was the implementation of a minor reform to the Owners Corporations Act 2006 in 2018. At the time, the government committed to a post-implementation review in 2020. It is now three years overdue. This government’s failure to properly regulate the short-stay industry is putting regional Victorians at direct risk of homelessness. I call on the minister to urgently commit to a complete overhaul of short-stay regulations to increase the supply of housing available for families and workers in rural and regional communities.