In Mount Isa, a bed for the night could mean sleeping in the dried up river

Accommodation stress is so bad in Queensland’s far north west, people are living on the dry beds of the Leichhardt River, but housing shortages may not be to blame.

Nov 23, 2022, updated Nov 23, 2022

According to local MP and Katter’s Australian Party leader Robbie Katter, the blame lies with the sloppy upkeep of social housing registers in Queensland and the Northern Territory.

The gaps in data mean itinerant travellers moving between the border are potentially leaving multiple dwellings vacant for indefinite periods of time, adding further and unnecessary strain on already diminished housing supply.

“You can’t be occupying two dwellings at the same time or take up a house and go off to Mount Isa to drink and leave a perfectly good house vacant where you come from,” Katter said.

“The vacant house in a remote community can often cause as much tension as the overcrowding at the other end, based on reports to my office.”

Katter said police were aware of the issue, but their hands remained tied.

“They cannot tell people where they can and cannot live, and without any confirmation of the housing status or history the problem remains very difficult to deal with,” he said.

Katter said he had met with both the Queensland and Northern Territory housing ministers to discuss possible solutions to the issue.

“The most practical way of dealing with this issue under the existing laws is by tightening visibility on just who is supposed to be living in what house with more focus on the NT than Queensland,” he said.

“On the NT side, they were quite open about the fact that the data on itinerants was sketchy that could be improved.”

Katter said despite housing allocated to a lot of people who were sleeping rough, whether that be in the Northern Territory or in Queensland, for reasons unknown they were opting to decline their government subsidised accommodation.

“In the midst of a housing crisis across both states, where you have people begging for housing, I think more needs to be done,” he said.

“I would like to call on the state government to step it up, and work collaboratively with other states to provide a forensic audit of tenancy which will allow monitoring of who is occupying what houses.

“By enabling a program or initiative that allows police to have access to housing records, it will enable them to assist in ensuring people are living in the houses assigned to them.

“Not crossing borders, and certainly not occupying riverbeds when they have somewhere else to stay.”



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