Until recently Byron Shire was the most unaffordable housing market in Australia. It was only recently eclipsed by Hobart. A recent Anglicare Rental Affordability Snapshot found that there is no accommodation at all available for single people or those on government benefits in Byron, or the neighbouring Ballina and Tweed Shires.
As part of Byron Shire’s housing strategy review, I was invited to Byron to participate in a panel discussion exploring new urban housing models with presentations and a Q and A with:
Peter Mares – author of No Place Like Home: Repairing Australia’s Housing Crisis.
Peter is lead moderator with The Cranlana Centre for Ethical Leadership, an independent, not-for-profit organisation dedicated to developing the ethical decision-making skills of Australia’s leaders, an adjunct fellow in the Centre for Urban Transitions at Swinburne University and a regular contributor to Inside Story magazine.
Dr Kathleen Flanagan – speaking on ‘Affordable housing in a tourist town: comparing Hobart and Byron Bay’. Kathleen is the Deputy Director of the Housing and Community Research Centre at the University of Tasmania. She has particular expertise in social and affordable housing and housing disadvantage. before becoming an academic, she worked in research, policy and advocacy roles in the Tasmanian community sector. She has been an active contributor to public policy discussions on housing and housing affordability pressures in Tasmania and nationally.
The structural issues restricting housing supply in areas like Byron Bay are complex and intransient. Peter Mares book clearly outlines many of these issues and how difficult they are to overcome without significant and determined government support.
Two things reinforced my view that significant change in the housing market is unlikely in the short term because of how difficult it is for all three layers of government to be aligned, on anything. In the meantime private sector innovation will be critical in demonstrating that different ways of doing things can make a difference.
The first thing was that part time local Councillors earn circa $18k pa doing a job that sometimes takes up to 40 hours of their week. How can they be expected to seriously champion meaningful change in the housing space, when it is only one of many local issues they need to deal with when juggling family life and other work commitments?
The second thing was that the NIMBY mentality in areas like Byron are a significant barrier to enabling change and innovation in the housing market.
The event was recorded by Bay FM so you can listen to the talk here.