Incoming Shire of Augusta-Margaret River councillor Tracey Muir knows local government is limited in its ability to influence the region’s housing crisis but fully intends to shake the branches to see what can be done to alleviate the stress on residents. Speaking with the Times this week, Cr Muir said she was concerned about the future of the region, with many long-term residents squeezed out as property speculation, illegal short-stay operators and a lack of housing for workers continued to bite. Cr Muir, pictured, said the issues were “very tricky”. “I want to investigate and see what we can actually do,” she said. “Can we advocate to the State Government? “There’s illegal short-term accommodation that needs to be looked at. “It’s a difficult and not easy process.” Cr Muir said reviewing the budget — including a potential external audit suggested by Cr David Binks — and the impending review of the Shire’s local planning scheme should all be co-ordinated to consider the housing crisis. “We need to face up to it and do something about it,” Cr Muir said. “This issue is not going to go away.” Cr Muir said she also ran for election to address growing risks to the Shire’s environment, particularly its precious coast and river assets. “We’re really getting impacted on our coast,” she said. “It’s not actually that hard to care for our environment.” Cr Muir is a veteran education officer with Nature Conservation Margaret River Region and said pressure was growing on the region’s natural assets, as well as access to key recreation nodes. In line with recent Times reports about tourists damaging sites, including those considered sacred by Wadandi custodians, she believed Perth visitors caused more damage through camping, four-wheel-driving and illegal fishing than before the pandemic when interstate and overseas visitors were the norm. Greater co-ordination between the Shire and the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions, which manages the Shire’s national parks, was needed, as well as a plea to increase DBCA ranger numbers to meet increased demand. “We have a major national park which is getting inundated with tourists,” she said. The effects of tourism on the region as a whole, tacitly subsidised by ratepayers, was also an integral concern requiring further investigation. “We don’t seem to have a mechanism to get that (value) back,” Cr Muir said.