Legislative Council: Wednesday, June 01, 2022


Regional Housing

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (15:17): My questions are to the Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development regarding regional housing. Which regional councils has the minister been approached by in relation to regional housing? What commitments have been sought by those councils and what commitments has she given to them?

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries) (15:18): I thank the honourable member for her question. I certainly have ongoing discussions with councils, particularly, obviously, those who have approached me and also when I am going out and about in my regional visits. And of course, next week the Malinauskas Labor government, the ministers and CEs, will be in Mount Gambier for the first of our country cabinets as a new government, because it is very important to be able to get out and listen to the concerns in regional South Australia.

Generally, when we do have country cabinets, we will meet with the RDAs and we will meet with local councils and encourage the councils to make presentations to us. I don't have my final itinerary for country cabinet next week, but I am certainly very confident that the format will be similar.

So I think it's really important that we do include all those who can work in partnership to address the ongoing issue of the shortage of regional housing. I am sure that the various councils are also in contact with the minister in the other place, the Minister for Human Services, who has responsibility in terms of social housing, and also the Minister for Housing in the other place, who has responsibility for other types of housing that don't fall into that same category.

I think in terms of regional councils that's an important resource that we have there, because certainly they have shown in the past to be very keen to be involved in solving some of these really difficult issues. I think the term is still used of 'wicked issues', those complex issues which don't have a simple answer. If they did have a simple answer, we would hope that that would have been solved by now. Issues such as regional housing, which have such myriad factors feeding into them, is one of those more complex areas.

I think one of the real strengths of regional communities is their willingness to actually work together without establishing silos or empires and saying, 'No, I won't talk to you about this because I want to either take the credit or I want to issue the blame to you.' It's that kind of willingness to work across spheres of government, across industry, across community organisations, across RDAs.

When I was in Whyalla last week, I spoke with the Mayor of Whyalla and she was referring to some work that has been done by councils and RDAs in terms of trying to address some of these regional housing issues. I am more than happy to continue those discussions with anyone who has an interest in the matter, and I am glad to see that there is a new-found interest in issues such as regional housing from those opposite. If we can work collaboratively, that would be to the benefit of all the regional areas.

There are opportunities, I think, to work with non-government organisations and councils and RDAs and hopefully also the incoming federal government, which I understand has made a number of commitments around housing. It's really important that all of those sectors work together, because that's the way that we can come up with innovative solutions. They might not be the same solutions for every region. It may be that the solutions in the Riverland are different to the solutions on the Limestone Coast, which may be different to the solutions on Eyre Peninsula, which may be different to the solutions on Yorke Peninsula.

Each area has its own concerns in terms of both workforce, workforce availability, housing and accommodation, the types of housing and accommodation that is required for the workforce and for the existing local communities. All of those factors need to be taken into account and, of course, councils are very well placed to be able to both draw on that information but also then feed that back out to our government. Our government is, has been and will continue to be very open to hearing those representations.