Legislative Council: Wednesday, May 17, 2023


Regional Housing

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS (14:58): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before addressing a question without notice to the Minister for Regional Development on the topic of regional housing.

Leave granted.

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: This morning, The Advertiser reported that regional SA has the lowest vacancy rate for rental properties in the country. The figure shows that the number of rentals listed on realestate.com.au in regional South Australia has dropped by 60 per cent since 2020. Anne Flaherty from PropTrack Market Insights attributes the problem to a lack of supply but also the return of long-term rentals to short-term holiday rentals after the lifting of pandemic tourism restrictions.

Data from PropTrack also shows that regional renters aged 15 to 24 and those over 65 years of age contribute to a larger share of their income towards rent, but are also more likely than other age groups to reside in regions where rent prices are increasingly higher than the national average. My question to the minister therefore is: other than simply making a submission, what real action has the minister taken to advocate for regional renters who are adversely impacted by the housing crisis; and does the minister recognise the need for regulation of short-term holiday rentals such as Airbnbs?

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries) (15:00): I thank the honourable member for his question, although it does surprise me a little that he is frequently mentioning submissions when he didn't bother to put in a submission to the banking inquiry federally, just by all of his protestations here.

The Hon. R.A. Simms: I made one to the residential tenancies.

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: Yes, the government did put in a submission, as I mentioned yesterday—

Members interjecting:


The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: —but the opposition didn't, and the South Australian Greens didn't. However, that is another matter.

Members interjecting:


The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: The question in regard to regional housing is an important one, and I think it is something that we have discussed a number of times in this chamber, and certainly it is something that is raised with me at almost every forum or event that I attend in regional areas, which, of course, are very, very many. This government has done a number of things in terms of addressing the housing crisis, both here in metropolitan Adelaide but of course my particular discussions around it are more focused on regional housing.

I refer members to my previous answers on this topic in terms of what this government is doing, including the establishment of the Office for Regional Housing, so that we can look at innovative solutions to the crisis. Members who don't live regionally might not necessarily appreciate how the one-size-fits-all approach doesn't work in regional areas. It's not the same as simply being able to, for example, entice a developer to set up in an area.

There are a number of other issues that impact. For example, the regional development associations have been very active in looking at different ways that the housing crisis can be addressed in different regional areas, and I am certainly encouraging them to engage with the Office for Regional Housing so that those sorts of opportunities and different ideas and innovative solutions can be fully explored.

In terms of regulation for short-term accommodation such as Airbnb, it is an interesting topic that does come up quite frequently, and there are contrasting views. I think a lot of us could certainly see the benefits to freeing up for longer term accommodation that more regulation of Airbnb might provide.

On the other hand, people who own properties expect to be able to use those properties in the way that they wish. Indeed, a number of people, as I understand it, who do utilise their properties for Airbnb often do so for short bursts in between when they or their family members are staying in the properties themselves. Certainly that is the experience in my local township in Port MacDonnell of people who I am familiar with on a personal basis.

I think it is an important discussion to have. It's a discussion that might be had across a number of portfolios, impacting as it does on tourism, on workforce, on long-term rental, on cost of living, so I thank the member for raising the issue again in this chamber, as well as it being raised by others in a number of other forums. I am sure it is something that will continue to develop and be a topic of discussion.