You might have noticed some talk around the place about a “housing affordability crisis” affecting the country: the fact that house prices in the major cities have rocketed up over the past decade to the point where first home buyers are now pretty much unable to afford a home, and are increasingly stuck renting indefinitely. Although neither major party is even close to tackling it seriously, both have realised that it’s a serious problem that needs to be addressed.
Well, it appears that Robert Gottliebsen hasn’t.
Gottliebsen has spent the last month or so writing very bitter attacks against the RSPT wherever he can – one sided, shameless pieces advocating for the interests of the Big Three mining companies against everyone else. Fear campaigns designed to hit confused voters from every angle.
Well, he found a doozy of a scare line this week: an attack on the RSPT on the basis that it could (gasp) reduce house prices.
Seriously. The scare campaign Gottliebsen is now trying to run is that the RSPT might make housing affordable (or slightly less unaffordable) for first home buyers again. I know! How terrifying! Sadly it’s complete garbage, and simply won’t happen, but imagine the disastrous consequences if it did. Young couples across the nation escaping the landlord, buying a house and raising their family under their own roof… Horrible.
Now it’s true that Gottliebsen’s audience is probably one that is profiting, in the short term and at their children’s expense, from the housing bubble. They’re the ones with investment properties that the increasingly frustrated younger generation is forced to rent because, without existing equity in property, they simply can’t afford to enter the market. They cannot compete with the borrowing power of those already in it. And therefore, whilst there’s an entire generation the losers from the bubble, clearly there is a (by definition smaller) number who are directly profiting from it. And they might, conceivably, be selfish enough to see the end of this destructive gravy train as something to be lamented.
Still, even for them there are long-term costs: for example, crime rates tend to increase when the rate of home ownership in the community, a stabilising factor for society, is reduced. I also expect many of them would like their kids to move out of home before their thirties.
And for the many, many people now locked out of the housing market, a reduction in house prices is precisely what they’re praying for.
So I suspect it would be an incredibly courageous – in the Sir Humphrey sense of the word – line for the big miners and their LNP partners in Canberra to push more widely. The RSPT will make housing more affordable! The RSPT will enable your kids to buy their own house and move out of home! The RSPT will bring us back from a nation of landlords and renters to a more stable nation of home-owners!
A chilling, unpopular, electorally devastating vision of things to come indeed. (If only it were true.)
If you think I’m wrong, and this is in fact a helpful and useful line for the big miners and LNP to run, then please feel free to encourage your local Liberal or National MP to take it and publicise it more widely. I can’t wait to see those ads.
ELSEWHERE Clive Hamilton asks why we’re standing meekly by “as the rich greedily assert their power”.
ELSEWHERE #2 Even the Herald Sun’s Robyn Riley has noticed there’s a problem, although she blames the kids for giving up and doesn’t seem to have considered housing affordability at all.