I came by a recent copy of the Warwick local newspaper and was appalled to see the headline story was an unveiled threat by local council to vigorously pursue shire residents who were “living illegally” in sheds and other unapproved dwellings.
Local council crackdowns on non-approved dwellings are nothing new. Councils, of course, have the legal authority to take action but do they have the moral authority? Are their actions appropriate while Australia is in the midst of a housing affordability crisis? Do their actions reflect any consideration for sustainable practice?
The answer would have to be no, no and no again.
To be clear, we are not talking about non-approved dwellings built in suburbia or in zones covered by covenants that restrict type, style or material used in construction. Only the foolhardy would attempt that. We’re talking about larger rural-residential blocks and bush blocks where owners assumed they could do as they please. For the most part, these residents “living illegally” in sheds are “Aussie battlers” building on the cheap.
In past times these were people to be admired for their resourcefulness AND for their willingness to do it tough for a while. In past times it was considered responsible to live within one’s means, buying only what you could afford and attempting to be as self sufficient as possible.
Today, the scene is very different. Today, living within one’s means can mean “living illegally”. Today, we have rules and regulations (and peer pressure) that effectively force people to borrow money and live beyond their means.
Importantly, councils often justify evictions or legal orders by shifting the blame to neighbours and the wider community who have reported “illegal” dwellings because of concerns that the value of their own real estate will be lowered. Whatever the reasons, actions like reporting by neighbours, eviction and council demolition orders are symptomatic of societies driven by greed and rampant consumption – societies that have lost a sense of true value.
1.. Rapidly adjust government (local, state and federal) regulations that effectively sabotage or hamper sustainable outcomes.
2.. Foster rural sustainable communities (de-emphasizing real estate speculation) and that as good neighbours we respect the rights of those who are living within their means and that we NOT require them to meet the artificially high standards currently imposed.