Dear valued subscriber,
The south-west's housing market dominates daily discussions.
Warrnambool's median house price has jumped to $558,000, according to the latest CoreLogic data, more than $150,000 up from the start of last year. Port Fairy's market has leapt to new highs with two properties fetching more than $5 million each and in smaller towns like Mortlake, prices in some cases have doubled in 12 months. Even the price of townhouses are dizzying, fetching $500,000 or more in Warrnambool.
Bush blocks are as scarce as hen's teeth.
While all this makes good reading for those in the market, it's fast becoming a disaster for those not owning property.
There's a shortage of rental properties and any that are up for grabs are going for a premium. Rental prices have climbed to a point in Warrnambool that 74 per cent of properties are classed as unaffordable for those receiving welfare payments. There are real fears homeless rates are increasing.
But the downside of a surging property market doesn't end there, this week we revealed the region's shortage of workers had worsened. Some businesses have been forced to cut back their trading hours and even reduce the number of days they open because of a lack of workers.
One Port Fairy trader has even offered to pay travel expenses for workers to drive from Warrnambool without success.
The lack of housing is impacting our workforce, which is alarming given predictions of a bumper tourist season. We might be open for business but who's going to serve us?
Warrnambool and other south-west centres need more affordable housing. The city council recognises the issue and is looking to influence what it can but many of the factors impacting housing are driven by the market or higher levels of government.
The state government committed $25 million for public housing in Warrnambool more than 12 months ago but nothing has yet happened on the ground. Based on today's prices plus the rising costs of materials, $25 million won't go far. The city's public housing waiting list has 900 people. Do we need to discourage so many investment properties being used as holiday rentals? More needs to be done. And fast.
St Patrick's Day fires victims were left angry after Energy Safe Victoria this week dropped all but one charge against Powercor over the devastating 2018 blazes. It beggars belief charges were dropped relating to a rotten power pole that snapped and sparked a blaze that destroyed homes, paddocks and livestock. Questions were asked in state parliament too. It will be interesting to see what happens when the matter returns to court later this month.
There's major changes in store for the region's biggest annual expo, the Sungold Field Days, with a new company taking over staging the event. The field days, which have been held at Allansford since 1981, look to be on the move into Warrnambool, but where?
One of our most popular stories this week was this one about long-serving teachers retiring. Check it out here.
This too was a good yarn about the surprise-packet mayor nicknamed 'Snags'.
Exciting step for Nirranda export Brody Couch who signed a contract with Big Bash Cricket League franchise Melbourne Stars this week.
The most colourful happening this week was the painting of Warrnambool's Art Gallery but there wasn't a brush or roller in sight, just fire extinguishers. Check out this video. It's certainly turned heads. See Morgan Hancock's picture above.
Time to get into the Christmas spirit! To go into the draw to win one of nine double passes to Christmas with the Queen of Carols Silvie Paladino & the Melbourne Symphony Opera Orchestra at Warrnambool's Lighthouse Theatre next Sunday, enter here. Winners will be notified.
Don't forget to check out some other stories that made headlines this week, below.
Until next week,
Greg Best, editor, The Standard
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.