Mining and Pastoral MP Wilson Tucker has accused the State Government of behaving like a “slumlord” as its agencies sit on 32 vacant properties in Kalgoorlie-Boulder, of which five have been empty for at least seven years.
But State Housing Minister John Carey said he had made a clear point since being appointed to the portfolio after the State elections in March that he would leave “no stone unturned” to increase WA’s public housing stock and had a plan in place for some of the vacant properties.
Questions by Mr Tucker in WA’s Upper House last Thursday revealed there were 32 vacant Government Regional Officer Housing properties in Kalgoorlie-Boulder at the end of August.
Of that, 12 had been vacated just last month alongside another 12 earlier this year.
The remaining eight have sat idle since at least last year, with five of them empty for at least seven years and one empty for a decade.
That comes during a housing shortage in the city.
Mr Tucker yesterday told the Kalgoorlie Miner that was unacceptable and the State Government was “behaving as little more than a slumlord”.
He said he last week asked the State Government to provide him with a condition report for each of the unoccupied homes and they refused.
“In the absence of that, I can only conclude that the reason why some of these houses are vacant is because they are dilapidated,” Mr Tucker said.
“During my recent visit to Kalgoorlie, several former public servants told me that when they arrived at a GROH property, they were greeted with dead mice, broken windows and rotting floorboards.
“Why hasn’t the Government sought to improve the condition of these houses or, if they’re too far gone, why haven’t they sought to sell them off?
“Private investors could easily flip these houses and lease them to needy families.”
Mr Tucker said it was unacceptable during a housing shortage and the State Government needed to do better.
Mr Carey yesterday said he did not want to see any housing going unused, particularly when the housing market was under pressure.
“One of the measures put in place in recent months was a change to policy settings, which will make it easier to transfer assets between GROH and public housing,” he said.
“This means we can make better use of underutilised government-owned housing.
“We recently announced six underutilised GROH properties in the town of Collie would be undergoing major refurbishments and be made available as public housing, to better meet needs in the town.
“I can confirm the Department (of Communities) is currently assessing six long-term vacant GROH properties in Kalgoorlie for similar refurbishment and transfer to public housing.”
Mr Carey said the remaining vacant GROH properties in Kalgoorlie-Boulder were still used by government agencies and were important in attracting critical State Government workers to the town.