Federal inquiry speaks on how Katanning’s housing shortage obstructs local business and labour growth

Headshot of Tom Shanahan
Tom ShanahanGreat Southern Herald
Tony Pasin, Chris Pavlovich, Josh Wilson, Nigel Oakey, Rick Wilson, Paul Kyaw
Camera IconTony Pasin, Chris Pavlovich, Josh Wilson, Nigel Oakey, Rick Wilson, Paul Kyaw Credit: Picture: Tom Shanahan

Accessibility to labour and housing were identified as key challenges facing Katanning at a Federal Inquiry into Regional Australia meeting earlier this month, according to the committee’s chairman.

Katanning’s Premier Mill Hotel hosted the select committee on regional Australia, giving representatives from Great Southern shires a chance to meet with Federal MPs to discuss challenges facing businesses and families.

The committee was formed in September 2019 to explore the contribution and sustainability of regional Australia.

Committee chairman and South Australian Liberal MP Tony Pasin said the challenges facing Katanning were consistent with those the inquiry had heard across the country.

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“Employers are desperate for staff ... we heard evidence from one employer today who could take his staff from somewhere in the 40s to somewhere in the 60s, some additional 20 employees — tomorrow,” he said.

“The challenge there is that his business and many others in your communities and regional communities all over Australia are being held back by the lack of access to labour.

“Now, these are good challenges to have but they are challenges.”

Mr Pasin said accessibility to labour in the region was being hampered by a lack of accessibility to housing. “This is a problem not just of accessing staff but it's also how do you house them once you access them,” he said.

“It's a challenge to think that in your community, the council in Katanning ... is investing $95,000 to establish house blocks that are worth effectively $50,000.

“But without housing, they’re not going to attract people.

“And without attracting people, you can't grow the businesses.

“So we need to solve for that problem.”

Mr Pasin said the committee was developing a report to present to Federal Parliament in a bid to address challenges such as those presented by housing in the region.

“The committee will report to the national Parliament that there is a shortage of people who live in regional Australia, but there’s no shortage of jobs,” he said.

“We can’t simply solve that problem by moving people to the regions, whether they be from the city — unlikely — but more likely migration programs into regional Australia, unless we do something about the housing case.

“The built environment, your streetscape and other things are incredibly well presented,” he said.

“Facilities like the one we are in today (Premier Mill Hotel) would not exist in a community the size of Katanning in my electorate (Barker).

“Katanning could grow by hundreds of houses and the infrastructure would well service that community.”

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