With a federal budget fast approaching and calls for the Coalition to reduce the cost of living, housing will be a hot topic, particularly when it comes to rural and regional areas.
- A report by Infrastructure Australia found the rate of population growth has tripled in the regions
- Housing, water security and digital connectivity were identified as top three infrastructure gaps
- There are calls for more medium-density housing and faster development approval times to ease housing stress
At the same time, the rate of population growth in the regions has tripled during the pandemic, according to independent advisory body Infrastructure Australia, which has been looking at where the biggest infrastructure needs are outside the big four cities.
Its latest report has found the migration of people from cities has placed extra pressure on rural and regional infrastructure, with 55 per cent of regions citing housing, followed by water security, and mobile and digital connectivity as their top three issues.
Infrastructure Australia’s policy and research chief, Peter Colacino, said housing was an impediment to retaining skilled and essential workers like nurses and firemen.
He pointed to the New South Wales Illawarra region – the state’s third-largest community – where demand for housing is expected to grow by 58,000 properties by 2041, representing a tripling in the population.
“That’s in a community with already elevated property prices, which is presenting both rental stress and challenges for people entering home ownership,” Mr Colacino said.
“And for some property types — properties that might service a larger family or people with specialist needs — the waiting lists are over 10 years.”
Rental stress hurts
In Tasmania, one in three renting households are struggling to meet rental costs, the report found, while in the Northern Territory more than half of all houses in remote communities are overcrowded.
“The NT has 10,852 social houses and a waiting list of 3,500 applications, so very large demand for additional remote housing,” Mr Colacino said.
But Mr Colacino argued state and local governments had the biggest role to play by incorporating medium density housing in future planning, speeding up development approval times and releasing more land to build on.
“We need a greater diversity of housing mix,” he said.
“Medium density housing supports more property on less land and property of a different mix of styles that supports community needs.”