Council receives complaints of 'illegal camping'
RESIDENTS have registered complaints to the regarding illegal camping, overcrowded dwellings and occupied caravans to the North Burnett Regional Council over the past year.
With backpacker numbers building for the citrus season, the council said that accommodation was a "huge concern” for the workers.
North Burnett Regional Council mayor Rachel Chambers said despite many people doing the right thing, a number of residents had identified business opportunities to set themselves up as places for short term accommodation, which is in breach of numerous laws.
"Whilst there are many positive stories within our communities, it does create a shortage of accommodation within our towns which creates a number of problems,” Cr Chambers said.
"People who set up share accommodation with more than five unrelated tenants may trigger the definition for budget accommodation for which there are significant fire safety and amenity issues.”
The laws were introduced by the State Government following the Childers backpacker fire which occurred in 2000, with 15 lives lost.
The council said it had been alerted to residents illegally renting our caravans in backyards, posing huge safety concerns.
"Using the residential land for short term accommodation can breach council's planning scheme and the planning act 2016 which carries a fine of up to a maximum of $567,675,” Cr Chambers said.
"Using caravans may also result in a lack of facilities such as toilets and showers which may result in public health issues.”
Cr Chambers said the council would shut down illegal practices.
"Council can issue public health orders requiring activities to be stopped until risks to public health have been implemented,” she said.
"Council wants to support our rural economy by encouraging seasonal workers to the region however, we do want to ensure that the health and safety of visitors are protected and that places of accommodation do not impact upon their neighbours.”
The Queensland Fire and Rescue Service (QFES) will be working alongside the North Burnett Regional Council to implement backpacker safety procedures, and to ensure residents are compliant.
"Council officers look forward to working with residents and QFES to ensure the safety of all residents and visitors to the region,” Cr Chambers said.