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Queensland housing crisis hits regional employers

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The difficulty in finding housing has a disproportionate affect in regional areas Photo: Getty
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Jobs in regional Queensland are going unfilled and businesses are cutting hours because there is nowhere for new employees to live, chambers of commerce across the state say.

The difficulty in finding housing has a disproportionate affect in regional areas, and the flow-on effect means some employers are offering wage incentives or taking it upon themselves to find accommodation.

In Goondiwindi, southwest of Brisbane, employers are trying to address housing shortfalls in agriculture, education, hospitality and engineering, local chamber president Terri-Ann Crothers says.

“However, there are not enough accommodation options, to buy or rent, available to house current residents, let alone new residents,” Ms Crothers said.

“It’s difficult to offer a job when there’s nowhere for the new employee and their family to live.”

Four hours northeast in Kilcoy, larger businesses in farming, manufacturing and construction are paying much higher wages to attract qualified staff.

“Then, in many cases, (they) have to find them accommodation,” chamber president Bronwyn Davies said.

“There is an accommodation crisis every direction.”

Some workers have to pay to stay in motels in Kingaroy, where the “desperate” situation.

“We are seeing more people sleeping rough in our region, which is something that has never really been visible before,” chamber president Damien Martoo said.

On the holiday destination of North Stradbroke Island, housing issues are directly affecting chamber president Colin Battersby.

“Not only is there a lack of accommodation options for seasonal staff needed to service the tourism sector, but permanent rental options have dried up for existing residents and many have been forced to leave the island altogether,” Mr Battersby said.

His own businesses, holiday rental management and a fish and chip shop, are under severe staffing pressure.

“With the upcoming school holidays we will not be able to operate and open the cafe the hours we would normally due to a lack of staffing options,” he said.

Earlier this week, Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland joined calls for a national housing summit to address affordability and supply.

Eleven of the state’s peak bodies, including the Local Government Association, wrote 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 on Wednesday said the federal government’s existing policy was designed to relieve pressure.

The LGAQ on Thursday said it was “bitterly disappointed” its call had been rejected.

– AAP