12 April, 2024

Short-stay levy plea

THE South West Victoria Alliance of Councils is calling on the state government to allocate a greater share of the new short-stay accommodation levy to rural and regional Victoria.

According to alliance chair, Cr Ben Blain, the 7.5 per cent levy was designed to help drive short-stay accommodation properties back onto the long-term rentals market.

“We agree with the aim of the levy but it is not a full solution in itself,” Cr Blain said.

“That is why we would like to see a greater and fairer proportion of the levy income allocated to housing projects in rural and regional areas.

“According to the state government, almost half of the 36,000 properties used for short stay accommodation across Victoria are in rural and regional areas but the government has committed to spending only 25 per cent of funds raised by the levy in rural and regional areas.”

Cr Blain said while the alliance acknowledged that 50 per cent of all short-stay spending in the state may not be occurring outside the metropolitan area, it did however believe there was a disproportionate transfer of funds that cuts income from already struggling rural and regional communities.

“It is likely that the money raised by the levy could have been spent by tourists in regional communities on food, beverages or produce,” Cr Blain said.

“Instead, it is going towards paying for housing projects in metropolitan Melbourne.

“Rural and regional cities and towns face a crucial shortage of essential workers, from nurses and doctors to tradies and seasonal workers.”

He believes many people who are offered jobs in regional and rural centres can’t take up those jobs because of a dire lack of accommodation.

“We call on the state government to spend more of the funds raised through the levy in country Victoria,” he said.

“As part of the implementation of the new levy, the state government has removed the power of local councils to apply their own charges to short-stay accommodation.

“This removes a potential funding source for local governments, which are already under severe financial pressure.”

He added that it was crucial that the funds raised by the levy be returned proportionately to the communities to where they are raised.

“That would go a long way to help communities provide the homes that workers and families need right across the state,” Cr Blain said.


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