On Tuesday 1 May 2018 a workshop was held for the Local Government and Housing Linkage Project. Kindly hosted by Moonee Valley City Council, the all-day event was well attended. As well as investigators and some partner organisations, other attendees included representatives from the Victorian Government, the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) and the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI). The main purpose of the workshop was to present the findings of a national survey of local government CEO’s/GM’s and to refine the draft project report.
After welcomes and introductions by Andrew Beer, two of the project’s PhD students gave a short presentation about their studies followed by discussion.
Jessica Porter’s thesis is entitled Is there a housing affordability crisis in non-metropolitan Australia? Jess explained that she was planning a comparison of Mount Gambier and Warrnambool which are similar in many ways. Jess is particularly interested in how policy is created and if it’s working. Her focus is on practices and processes.
Laura Hodgson spoke about her study of The impacts of Airbnb on housing markets in New South Wales. When asked if Airbnb is considered to be a positive or negative within local governments, Laura explained that it can attract new renters to an area or can remove rental properties from the market – so it’s variable. One particularly interesting aspect of Airbnb is the potential to use listed properties in cases of natural disaster. In fact, this happened in a recent bushfire emergency.
Three of the project’s investigators gave an overview of responses to the broad topics covered in the survey:
- Housing affordability (Alan Morris)
- Governance (John Martin)
- All other issues (Trevor Budge)
After lunch, attendees were split into three groups to discuss key messages.
There were a few surprises to come from the survey. Responses indicated that immigration does not appear to be a problem for local governments. There seems to be a general acceptance of Airbnb. The number of councils that owned properties and the number of properties owned by those councils was also a surprising finding.
Going forward, it was seen as crucial that incentives and levers (both private and public) for the provision of affordable housing are identified. The importance of leadership in local government was also a key point. The ability to speak as one voice at a national level was acknowledged as vital. Partnerships to develop a shared policy position with clear roles and responsibilities in achieving outcomes will be necessary.
To conclude the workshop, two groups were formed to work on the Report’s Executive Summary and Conclusion. These notes will be extremely useful in due course.
Andrew Beer ended the meeting by offering some closing comments about the project’s next steps and by thanking the participants. He foreshadowed a larger event for the 2019 meeting of this group, to be open to a wider audience and to be held in Canberra in order to achieve greater impact.
Thank you to all who attended and a huge thank you to Moonee Valley City Council for providing a venue and other support for this significant meeting.