Jobs in the Queensland region are not being filled and businesses are cutting hours because there is nowhere for new employees to live, according to state chambers of commerce.
Difficulty finding accommodation has a disproportionate effect in regional areas, and the ripple effect means that some employers offer wage incentives or take it upon themselves to find accommodation.
In Goondiwindi, employers are trying to address housing shortages in agriculture, education, hospitality and engineering, local chamber president Terri-Ann Crothers said.
“However, there are not enough housing options, to buy or to rent, available to house current residents, let alone new residents,” Ms Crothers said.
“It’s hard to offer a job when there’s nowhere for the new employee and their family to live.”
Four hours northeast of Kilcoy, big businesses in agriculture, manufacturing and construction pay much higher wages to attract skilled staff.
“Then in many cases (they) have to find them accommodation,” said chamber speaker Bronwyn Davies.
“There is a housing crisis in all directions.”
Some workers have to pay to stay in motels in Kingaroy, hence the “desperate” situation.
“We are seeing more and more people sleeping rough in our area, which has never really been seen before,” said chamber president Damien Martoo.
On the holiday destination of North Stradbroke Island, housing issues are directly affecting Chamber Speaker Colin Battersby.
“Not only is there a lack of accommodation options for the seasonal staff needed to service the tourism sector, permanent rental options have dried up for existing residents and many have been forced off the island altogether. “said Mr Battersby.
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His own businesses, managing vacation rentals and a fish and chip shop, are under severe staff pressure.
“With school holidays coming up, we will not be able to operate and open the cafe during normal hours due to a lack of staffing options,” he said.
Earlier this week, the Queensland Chamber of Commerce and Industry joined calls for a national housing summit to address affordability and supply.
Eleven of the state’s major bodies, including the Local Government Association, have written to federal Housing Minister Michael Sukkar and opposition spokesman Jason Clare with the request.
Mr Sukkar did not respond directly to the request for a housing summit, but said on Wednesday that current federal government policy was designed to relieve the pressure.
The LGAQ said Thursday it was “bitterly disappointed” that its appeal was dismissed.
Australian Associated Press