Illegal accommodation: Fires fuel further debate

11-Aug-2014 another hostel housing backpackers and international students in Sydney has gone up in flames. Thankfully no-one was killed, although two people ended up in hospital with smoke inhalation and burns.

This second fire in the same number of weeks has once again exposed the dangers of overcrowded, unsafe accommodation putting people’s lives at risk.

NSW Planning Minister Pru Goward says she is „considering” plans to let courts cut off electricity, gas and water utilities at illegal operations, and increasing the fine for breaches, which is currently a maximum of $1.1 million. However, Goward says the City of Sydney council seems reluctant to use its power to close them down.

“We’re putting the council on notice that they need to accept that they have the responsibility to do it,” Ms Goward told ABC radio.

“People are tired of excuses and if the City of Sydney refuses to take action we as a state government are now looking at options that we can use, like giving the courts the power to shut off the electricity, gas and water of shonky operations to ensure that people’s lives aren’t put at risk.”

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