Premier Mark McGowan has been urged to transfer the Local Government portfolio from Minister John Carey so he is solely responsible for dealing with the current housing crisis in Western Australia.

Steve Martin, Shadow Minister for Housing, said the State Government urgently needed to develop a co-ordinated plan to deal with the massive shortage in rental accommodation in the State.

“The likelihood of such a plan being developed is severely diminished if Minister Carey continues to hold the Local Government portfolio which is also in crisis, as highlighted by the recent damning Auditor General’s report into the Department of Local Government,” Mr Martin said.

“As a new Minister, Mr Carey will simply find it overwhelming to deal competently with two crises at the same time.

“The housing crisis urgently needs the singular focus of Minister Carey, with rental prices going through the roof in all parts of Western Australia, affecting the most vulnerable in our society.

“In Perth, for example, rents are now rising at nearly 15 times the rate of inflation.

“The latest SQM national research shows that rents in Perth rose by 16.2 per cent over the past year, which is nearly five times the rate of growth of all capital cities in Australia.

“Our most vulnerable simply cannot afford to pay these surging rents and will be forced onto the streets in rising numbers.

“It is not just Perth where rents are surging due to a rock bottom vacancy rate of 0.9%.

“Vacancy rates are even lower in regional centres. In Broome and Kalgoorlie, for example, vacancy rates are nearly half the rate of Perth at just 0.5%.

“Minister Carey needs to release a plan that will detail how we can provide a major injection of rental supply, including State owned housing at the lowest cost to the taxpayer throughout Western Australia so people have a place to live.

“This can best be achieved if he only has the housing portfolio to focus on. If action like this is not taken soon, then the State Government will not only be responsible for a housing crisis but also a worsening homelessness crisis of their own making.”