Jim Pearce doesn’t blame Dysart families for cashing in by selling their homes to a Sydney developer but is concerned about the impact on housing affordability.
Jim Pearce doesn’t blame Dysart families for cashing in by selling their homes to a Sydney developer but is concerned about the impact on housing affordability. Peter Holt

Cashing in and getting out

AT LEAST 30 families sold their homes to a southern developer and moved out of Dysart at Christmas; a move sure to worsen housing affordability issues in the town, Bowen Basin coal towns community advocate Jim Pearce told yesterday's fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) inquiry hearing.

The families were the latest in a string to cash in and leave the mining town during the last 18 months, taking advantage of a Sydney developer's offer to buy their homes for between $400,000 and $460,000 once caveats preventing their sale (as a condition of their cheap purchase years ago) expired, he said.

The median house price in Dysart was $475,000 last year.

"The people who have lived in the town for a long time are saying 'I'm out of here' and can you blame them?" Mr Pearce said.

"I don't blame them one little bit... but unfortunately those houses are then redeveloped, where they put in extra bedrooms downstairs... and you could finish up with anything from six to eight or 10 people living in that house; all individual workers paying a bit of rent for the house, which is being leased out for $3000 or $3200 a week.

"It's not fair to the local community... it's investors like that which are really burying the liveability of those towns."

Member for Dawson George Christensen, who also addressed the hearing panel at the Mackay Entertainment and Convention Centre yesterday, called for a range of measures to ease problems faced by mining communities.

"The Mackay region is ground zero in terms of the impact of FIFO," he said.

"The increasing use of a FIFO workforce has serious ramifications for housing, training and funding mechanisms. It also has changed the fabric of regional town societies..."

He recommended strengthening relationships and resilience of FIFO and drive-in, drive-out families, and mining companies having to provide new homes for at least 60% of new workforces.



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