CEO Andrew Roach and Mayor Peter Blundell.
CEO Andrew Roach and Mayor Peter Blundell. Linden Morris

Seven new rules to stop backpacker crush at digs

THE Southern Downs Regional Council has adopted seven new rules to deal with the prosecution of overcrowded backpacker accommodation quickly.

The council agreed to delegate CEO Andrew Roach authority to start legal action against landowners conducting unlawful backpacker accommodation.

The CEO now has the authority to prosecute, negotiate, mediate, settle or cease the illegal activity based on advice from the council's legal team.

Rule three means the council can now issue enforcement notices to the home owners without first issuing a show cause notice.

The council has also agreed to run an educational program to inform property owners of their liability for unauthorised use of their homes.

Also on the cards is the development of purpose built backpacker accommodation to address the shortfall.

Councillor Jamie Mackenzie was the only councillor to vote against the decision.

Cr Mackenzie said he would like to see the decision come back to the boardroom so alternatives could be discussed instead of just issuing enforcement notices.

Mayor Peter Blundell said the aim was to be able to act quickly.

"The point of the first three items is so council can act quickly when they need to without bringing it back to council for approval," he said.

Cr Jo McNally said it was good to finally see the council taking some action on this growing problem.

"Something should have been enacted in 2010 when it first came to our attention," she said.

"It is about time we did it, the council needs to move quickly. It is too late once a tragedy occurs."



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