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OPINION: Housing solutions remain quiet

Eight people have made their pitches to represent voters in the federal seat of Mallee and a majority of voters will pencil their choice on Saturday. 

The issues candidates have targeted during the past six weeks or so have been widespread, perhaps indicative of Victoria’s largest geographical federal seat.

But what was surprising, or some might say negligent, was a limited candidate discussion or solution, regionally specific or otherwise, to start to deal with the cost and availability of housing.

While housing has formed part of a broader major-party debate late in the national campaign, Mallee candidates were perhaps more absent on the matter. 

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There remain several issues, major and minor, our candidates have felt underpinned their electoral campaigns, but a majority of these could be best described as statements of belief. 

These can be crucial, no doubt. 

But considering obstacles to appropriate and affordable housing remain tangled in an almighty number of other issues the region’s voters and candidates have hoped to tackle, in the Mallee, a broad housing discussion has remained light on. 

More appropriate housing remains integral to the region’s economic, population and social growth, and a timely Wimmera Development Association report released at the start of May highlights important factors in this space. 

The key factors in the report would not be foreign to a majority of people in the region, who for one reason or another, would be themselves, or have known someone tied up in the problems that arise from a lack of housing. 

The report emphasised regionally focused solutions to the Wimmera’s housing challenges and association leader Chris Sounness had previously described specific solutions be similar to regionally-specific puzzle pieces. 

While housing issues in the Wimmera might not completely match those in other parts in the seat of Mallee, some cross-over can be assumed. 

Last minute national housing solutions from both major parties, maybe, could help in the short term, but they are likely not a long-term solution many had hoped for. 

Even though very little noise was made in Victoria’s largest electorate about housing, it remains almost the single biggest obstacle for the region achieving substantial economic, social and population growth.

And it will probably remain so after Saturday. 

The entire May 18, 2022 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!