Housing shortage a myth
Councillors participated in a very wide ranging discussion that quite clearly explained that it is a failure of the private market to deliver affordable housing. This is not a new issue, nor is it a cyclical problem. This is a problem of the private market and always has been. There has been growth in rooming houses because of an increase in the sub-residency model and illegal building works.
Some of the key issues covered included:
The need for registration and policing of rooming houses
Unregistered rooming houses
Fire safety issues
The coordination of council departments in the policing of registered and unregistered premises
- Need for the licensing of rooming house operators
- Need for an increase in the penalities for unlicensed premises
- Need for third party complaints against operators
- Need for the government to use their own data.
ABS data shows that there is currently enough vacant housing to house all Victorians but policies such as capital gains tax and negative gearing act to encourage landlords to sit on vacant properties
Climate change and social justice – what does this mean?
The VLGA has decided that its response to the State Government's Climate Change Green Paper* will essentially be framed in terms of the impact of climate change and strategies to address climate change on equity and health.
There are many ways climate change will affect the community disproportionately and this is directly linked to capitalism. Until such time as we deal with this structural inequality we will not be able to share the shrinking resources equitably and fairly. We do not have a society that distributes wealth or health equitably.
There is an urgent need for local governments to start addressing this inequality. And when it comes to climate change there are many worrying examples of how those on low incomes are going to be affected far more greatly by climate change impacts than those who are well off.
For example, many people are probably not aware that more people were killed in the heatwave leading up to Black Saturday than in Black Saturday itself.
Another example is that we will soon have to pay more for water because of the desalination plant. Those on low incomes will find these increased costs the most difficult to absorb and will certainly be in a much more difficult position compared to those on higher incomes who have already been able to afford to install water tanks and water efficient appliances. A more equitable response would be to support households to achieve water independence through water tanks, storm water harvester and cheap water saving measures
Those on low incomes and those who are older or with disabilities will also find the extreme heat more difficult. While those on higher incomes can afford passive solar design for their houses, insulation, weather sealing, cooling units and holidays to cooler parts of the world, while those on low incomes cannot.
Other examples of vulnerability to climate change include: the higher price of foodstuffs due to changing climate, aging, access to services, and rising prices for energy use and petrol to run cars.
Councils are in the unique position being closest to the people and we can deliver or lobby for projects that will reorient services and supports to those most disadvantaged. We can tax big businesses (this is constrained in local government) to offset service provision to those most vulnerable instead of allowing the gap to widen.
* A 'green paper' is draft policy document and discussion paper, usually provided for public comment