Programs 'won't solve affordability'

WHILE major housing affordability programs run by the Federal Government were making a difference, these will not solve the problems in regional mining communities, a senior bureaucrat told a parliamentary committee in Canberra on Wednesday.

The National Rental Affordability Scheme gives tax breaks and financial incentives to businesses to build cheap housing for low income people in needy areas, such as Central Queensland's Moranbah or Dysart.

It aims to help people such as teachers, nurses, police, retailers and child care workers get housing at 20% below the local market rate, putting some on a level playing field in mining communities.

Witnesses from the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs spoke to a parliamentary committee inquiry into the effects of fly-in fly-out (FIFO) work practices.

They told the inquiry that the affordability scheme would deliver 388 homes in and around Central Queensland, including Dysart, Moranbah and Nebo.

But FaCHSIA group manager of social policy group Sean Innes said while the scheme provided a chance to level the playing field for people in remote mining communities, it did not solve the whole problem.

Another public servant told the committee there were weaknesses in another key plank of the government's regional housing affordability plan.

Run by the Environment Department as part of the Sustainable Australia policy, the $29.2 million Sustainable Regional Development Program aims to protect the environment from land development threats in high growth areas including mining communities.

And while the committee was told it should achieve that aim, the wider aim of improving housing affordability and, hence, the sustainability of regional communities, was not being taken into account because the program could only assess developments on threats to nationally significant environmental issues.

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