SENTINEL-TIMES COMMENT

THE government needs to be congratulated for delivering savings and financial encouragement through its ‘Homes for Victorians’ package which has so far delivered $3 billion in savings on first homes through stamp duty discounts and first home-owner grants.

And together with low interest rates, the initiatives have led to a housing boom in metro fringe and regional areas.

But problems, serious problems still exist, which now require government intervention.

For whatever reasons, whether it’s Melbourne people buying up country and regional properties, local councils dragging the chain on new housing estates or, lately, the crisis in the supply of timber for home building, there is a dire shortage of rental accommodation in regional areas.

This is affecting the ability of local firms to employ people hoping to move to regional areas to work, because there simply isn’t anywhere to live.

And the lack of housing is having a fundamental impact on the community, exacerbating mental health, financial and social issues.

The growth in new housing may ultimately open up additional rental stock as people move on but it’s a painfully slow process which needs help.

Whether by partnerships with the private sector, not-for-profit groups or local government, the government needs to embark on a major social housing initiative which will deliver affordable housing to regional areas.

They need to better support trades training and also to take a direct interest in the dire shortage of timber for construction, the latter which is threatening to choke off construction and jobs growth.

What’s the plan? Just let the market take care of it?