Critical housing shortage threatens bush push

NSW Farmers has welcomed a push to increase the number of people living in regional communities, but warns critical issues must be solved first.

The Regional Australia Institute’s calls to have 11 million people living outside capital cities by 2032 were supported by big banks and businesses, with claims it would deliver a $13.8 billion economic windfall to the country.

However, NSW Farmers Vice President Rebecca Reardon said a serious lack of housing threatened to derail those plans if not addressed urgently. 

On Tuesday morning there were 17 rental vacancies in Moree, but 112 job vacancies. The situation was even worse in Griffith, with just six rental vacancies and 300 job ads.

“If we’re talking about getting more people to move out here we need to get serious about finding them somewhere to live,” Mrs Reardon said.

“There’s a massive need for workers in the bush, not just farm workers but also doctors, teachers, tradies and a range of other occupations.

“The big problem we’re going to have is finding the people to actually build all of these homes we’ll need; 11 million bedrooms won’t build themselves.”

The federal government’s recent Jobs and Skills Summit was a move in the right direction in finding a collaborative approach to resolve the skills and labour shortages across many industries, Mrs Reardon said, but agriculture and other key regional industries were missing out on opportunities and that would only get worse if urgent action was not taken.

A rethink on the way homes were built to accommodate population growth in regional areas – such as medium density housing instead of the traditional quarter-acre single-dwelling block – would be needed to protect Australia’s world-class farmland. 

“Land in regional areas is a precious commodity, not just for housing but in terms of productive output for our food and fibre, so there’s a really tricky balancing act,” Mrs Reardon said.

“You need careful planning to make sure you don’t just build houses and infrastructure on highly-productive agricultural land, you need to get the best bang for your buck.

“We’re at a critical point in regional development, so while making announcements and setting targets is good, getting it done in the right way is of the utmost importance.” 

Sources: and

Date: Tuesday, September 13, 2022
Media Contact: Steve Mudd  | 0429 011 690 | [email protected]