Affordable Housing crisis III

As noted in this comment from a reader, I had another go at pushing the issue of housing affordability in the Senate last week. This time I put up the following motion in what is known as a matter of urgency debate:

The need for a national affordable housing strategy to be developed, involving all levels of government and all political parties, to address the serious and ongoing crisis in housing affordability.

The Coaltion speakers made a few sympathetic noises about the importance of the issue, but they still voted against the motion.


It doesn’t overly worry me whether my motions get agreed to or not, but I am getting very frustrated at the lack of government interest at a national level in taking any extra action to address this growing problem. It has been a bad situation in many parts of the country for some years, but it is undoubtedly getting worse.

In my speech to the Senate, I referred to a recent Tim Colebatch piece in The Age which noted a report from the Housing Industry Association and the Commonwealth Bank showing that housing is now more unaffordable than at any time in the 23 years this has been measured, and also that

for the first time, the average Australian household can no longer afford to buy the average Australian home. With the median first home costing $376,000 in the December quarter, they say, buyers need a gross household income of $93,300 to adequately cover the mortgage bill of $2332 a month (or roughly $28,000 a year). But average household income, they estimate, is just $91,300.

The National Affordable Housing Summit has had a few goes over recent years at prodding for more action on this issue at national level. A couple of weeks ago, they had another shot, proposing a “national affordable rental incentive scheme to boost the supply of affordable rental housing by at 15 000 homes a year“.

Just last week, another group appeared – Australians for Affordable Housing. They put forward a range of measures, which included a national affordable rental incentive scheme along with a range of other measures they suggested as part of a national affordable housing agreement. This included things like increased investment in public and community housing, reform of federal tax incentives to encourage private sector investment in affordable housing and use of planning systems to generate affordable housing.

As an example of the response from government Senators, Liberal Senator Mitch Fifield listed the government’s record of better employment prospects, higher wages and lower interest rates, plus ‘reforming’ industrial relations laws, cutting income tax and substantially reduced government debt levels. Thus, he said, “the Commonwealth has done what is within its capacity to put Australians in a good position to afford a home.”

There is fair cause to blame the states for some of the current situation, but if that plus steady as she goes or more of the same is all the federal government thinks it can do in response to this crisis, it suggests to me they have just run out of ideas.

Labor Senator Gavin Marshall said this as part of his party’s contribution:

Labor have repeatedly said that, while there is no simple answer to housing stress, there are a number of things that could and should be done that would ease the crisis. We have committed to assessing all constructive ideas for tackling the lack of affordable housing, and we will start by negotiating a national affordable housing agreement amongst the three tiers of government. We have also committed to looking at shared equity models involving the federal government. We will look at protecting consumers from predatory lenders and we will actively seek ways to leverage private investment in low-income housing.

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40 Comments

  1. the government’s record of better employment prospects, higher wages and lower interest rates, plus ‘reforming’ industrial relations laws, cutting income tax and substantially reduced government debt levels. Thus, he said, “the Commonwealth has done what is within its capacity to put Australians in a good position to afford a home.

    This is exactly why the market has become gouged. They have done everything in their power to make it easier and hence the demand sky-rockets. Not to mention local circumstances (i.e. retiring near the beach and what not). There is a supply argument, but there is equally a demand argument.

    Also, how many first home buyers get outbid by investors?! Each time I have tried to buy, an investor keeps upping the offer. They can negative gear, depreciate and claim lower CGT when speculating. The market favours multiple buyers over first home buyers.

    Shelter is very important to our species. But if you look at the way our governments deal with these issues, you would have thought shelter was much like chocolate easter bunnies.

  2. Previous postings of the Senator have indicated people being pushed out of coastal area housing,and a general problem of housing.I dont think talking about demand and supply side matters does it justice.People since the dawning of aboriginal history have at times lived near the coast.I just think the Howard government and State Premiers are in a multiple bind,partly out of their own making,about this,and partly the bind of low income buyers.One of the most impressive community driven housing solution,once land was available,was a Jehovahs Witnesses organising of building a building near Tullamarine Airport Melbourne.The report observed large numbers of skilled and not so skilled people putting up a modest brick place in two days.I think ,now,two matters are urgent.One, a audit by local government of what housing and other places are available for long and short term housing.And Secondly people getting their priorities right.That is what does housing mean to them,because even with welfare housing the dialogue of disputes,about money will continue.I liked Wallengurra on the border between N.S.W.and Queensland.The twin towns have plenty of housing although drought and jobs would be difficulties.Local leaders including Parliamentarians..could do the following,create immediate work,tree planting etc.,and have a agreement with land owners,that allows people to live in the houses on low or or no rent,so that housing costs are reduced.Stanthorpe and Tenterfield all need regular harvest workers and the young to put some energy into the place for greater local economic efficiency.Turning these places into more attractive places to live is easy.Low maintenance shady trees,a paint job,local creativity,and above all else a sense of being able to do.That could mean developing public transport ,or using present options of travel more effectively.Business people surely wont mind people having notice boards up or computer use for travel requirements.Locals committing themselves .

  3. We need to make it more difficult to profit from basic human necessities such as housing. Accessibility and the lack of it, is largely due to the fact that the entrepreneurial classes have uncovered a variety of methods to take advantage of those who are desperate for shelter. A good start would be to bring an end to neo-liberal ideological dribble which dictates that “some” homeless people “enjoy” being homeless!

  4. I do think that one needs to talk about market concepts when describing a market. Buying and renting are two types of markets so one should talk about supply and demand concepts.

    However, interaction with other markets such as the labour market is critical (I’m not sure if this was the point, but I’ll make it the point). The way in which cities are designed do not allow for a reasonable distribution of labour. Huge numbers of people go to work in CBDs which creates transport problems and problem in accommodation affordability near the CBD and urban sprawl. Smart designs in cities could help this problem. But, given all this, if we are going to allow investors a free ride then prices will inevitably be higher.

    Public housing is another issue, but this requires effective government action. Something a committee can say, but no government (in today’s politics) will commit meaningfully to. Welfare is politically taboo.

  5. So presumably Austin if its wrong to try to creaet a society adn an encvironement consuducive to wealth creation, then to manage demand governments role should be to ensure poverty adn subservicen and state dependency?

    I guess thats a valid response to managing demand, thres plenty of room at the inn in Zimbabe and Cuba for thsoe wishing to pusue this end.

  6. Now then ken – the issue here is that the Federal Govt has intervened in the market in ways that palpably benefit the well-to-do, while placing a substantial portion of the populace at a large and recurring financial disadvantage. And let’s not forget that its also undermining the personal security of people who cannot escape the rental market.

    To me, that sounds more like creating an environment for reinforcing & perpetuating the status quo. I’d even go as far as to say that its instance of the Fed Govt doing what it always accused the Hawke and Keating govts of doing – social engineering.

  7. Australian investors have seen an opportunity in real estate. It is a relatively unsophisticated market , requiring little brain power but available cash/credit.
    Stock brokers say stocks have a better return, why then the assistance to speculate in real estate?
    My guess, black money, easy to hide in an investment so volatile with the ownership easily hidden, family and trusts. I know, friends are involved.
    fluff

  8. Did Thordaddy keep us up too long at night or something.Gee?You cannot want low rent while you try your little heart out to buy the place.And other posts depicting the real problems before have even less value because supply and demand cannot be a person wanting low rent while he or she or them are trying their little hearts out to pay the place off.When after all rent can be part of paying off a place.The big picture isnt a whole series of little pictures of people with limited choices except sometimes to think within the square and ask some questions of all sorts of people.There are two important customers to house buying leasing or rent.The owner and the occupier,they buy into agreements whose legality withstands time and also has enormous potential for flexability between the parties.Renting avoids immediate tax for one side,but maybe in the longer term disadvantages both.But do you always need legal agreements,only where law stipulates such.Is it safe without legal agreement,thats where government could help without the use of legalities and across departments.Apologies for causing conflict where there doesnt need to be,and answering my own questions in extended statement.

  9. Feral – I was commenting on the first par not the rest- whcih essentially said how can we control people spending money if we damm well give it to them.

    But yes, the later pars do move onto market intervention issues – I’m not sure on those, I’ve never got on that treadmill, but althouhg its easy to say investors win at the expesne of others I’ve had some of my satff lose it all too.

    Althouhg I do know the proportion of the population either owning or purchasing hasnt chnaged in 30 odd years. Perhasp their just paying more and working a lot harder – we know thats the case for most things.

    While publci housing etc is an obvious outcome a compassioianet society should consider, I’ve also spent a lot of time tramping around publci housing estates, albeit 25 years ago, and if ever a concpet entrencehs disadvantage its them.

    Despite how ever much we might wish otherwise ownership equates to valuing something in general, obviosuly ther willl always be individual differecnes

  10. There seems to me to be an assumption that if you’re not a first homebuyer then you own a home. What about those, mainly women, who have lost homes due to divorce or other circumstance and are now stuck in the rental market? People who can afford to service a modest mortgage but can’t scrape together a deposit. I think shared equity schemes are a good idea. The WA Government has recently introduced one but its only available to first home buyers.

    Thanks for trying Andrew.

  11. Andrew Bartlett:
    Thank you very much for taking this issue seriously. Pity a lot of others didn’t follow your example.

    One of the biggest obstacles to affordable housing is the illogocal hostility, throughout the finance industry, towards older houses whilst pushing huge, horribly-expensive, jerry-built, impractical bludger palaces.

    Why not excise affordable basic housing, that needed for actual dwelling, from the market altogether ….. and leave speculative and conspicuous-consumption real estate to all the vagaries of The Market? Ordinary people would get a roof over their heads ….. and those more interested in lifestyle and all the excitement of investing would have more fun ….. a win-win situation for all.

  12. ken, thanks for your clarification & further comments (with which I agree).

    Were you referring to Austin at #1 or #4? I seem to have read both of them a bit differently to you – but then philip travers reckons I’ve misread one of his posts too.

    re housing estates: a relative works in an inner city estate, and it sounds like a mixed bag – lots of social problems, but also a vibrant community life. I’m not suggesting that public housing goes down that route again, but it does appear that with the right support the estates that we currently have can be made better places to live.

    Unfortunately, getting an appropriate mix of public housing types, and providing the right level of support & services to tenants, is something that Housing Depts have not done well in the last decade, maybe longer.

    Back to the housing market – I remember some years ago seeing stories in Brisbane papers of young adults who had just acquired their 12th or even their 20th investment property. That’s a heck of a lot of taxpayer subsidy per investor.

    I think Graham Bell’s idea of quarantining part of the housing market from investors & speculators has merit. Or perhaps limiting the number of investment properties to which the various tax breaks apply.

    Oz – thanks for that link. Looks interesting, but there’s still the matter of purchasing the land. Unless the govt offered to provide land that it retains ownership of, while the occupier purchases the house. Like the 99 year lease in the pastoral areas.

  13. Oh!Dear me.Now I hate going against the grain,but as a left hander I just cannot help it.The reverse of Graham Bells separations could also apply to welfare housing because the jerry built McMansion has often a lot of living space,and are where some important jobs and study takes place.The challenge really is to effectively turn them into housing for lower incomes and,be interesting places to live on those income.The other reality maybe they are less maintenance users than older houses.I think it is unnecessary to define houses like this if an equality takes place that is acceptable allround.I do however prefer older houses,but not every mansion is unappealling even if they are a horror in terms of enviro and energy use.Those matters could be corrected.Keeping everyone in our society caring as much as is possible about each other seems to be not to blame or criticise completely, if, alternatives can be set up and other market realities besides the housing… convert to acceptabilities allround.If the dynamic for this webpost site is a roof over ones head McMansion owners…. for welfare housing would simply want a mechanism that was fair to them also.

  14. Bannerman thinks that Graham Bell is entirely wrong with his accusation that Bank’s disdain “older houses whilst pushing huge, horribly-expensive, jerry-built, impractical bludger palaces.” Banks take absolutely no part in deciding what kind a dwelling a borrower should or should not be purchasing. What they do concentrate upon is the borrowers ability to sustain a given level of borrowing over the longer term. A proliferation of funders offering greater access to 100% lending, shared equity lending and unethical lending practices where projected earning capacities are either not assessed or simply ignored are what is accelerating Australia’s debt to disposable income ratio.

    Graham Bell….Banks sell money, not real estate.

  15. Can nobody see the obvious? This is a debt fueled asset bubble like no other in history. Tell me, what fundamentals have changed across the UK, Ireland, Spain, USA, and Australia between 2000 and 2007 to justify a 200% (or more) increase in house prices? The answer is NOTHING.

    Any moves to make housing more affordable on the demand side will just fuel the bubble even more. While there is short term pain, the best thing for the long term is a heavy interest rate rise coupled with a (hopefully mild) recession. People will lose their appetite for debt and the bubble will pop just like all the bubbles before it. I assume this is avoided by politicians as more voters have mortgages / houses than those that don’t. It is in their interest to fuel the bubble just a bit longer – but one day it WILL collapse.

  16. Also for those from Sydney (or being there at the end of the month) there’s going to be a event about housing as part of the ALP National Conference fringe program.

    National Shelter: Housing Solutions
    Host: National Shelter
    Sussex Theatre, Crowne Plaza
    150 Day Street, Darling Harbour.

    Download Flyer

  17. There are only a limited supply of quality home sites in favourable conditions (convenient to work, beach, forest, river etc.). As the house-buying population increases through young people popping out of the education system and skilled migration, so competition for these limited resources increases. Up then go the prices.

    This is excerbated by developers who hold onto blocks of land of which there are apparently hundreds of thousands. This unproductive exploitative profit-taking practice should be taxed heavily (eg: quadriple rates on undeveloped urban land). Pity that these very same people represent the financial interests of Australia’s ‘noblest and finest’ directly or indirectly through superannuation/property investment funds.

  18. Rob,that which you state as some compelling truth may not be exactly that.Now, unless youve got access to figures of investment that I havent got..be fair will you.Look Ill be the first to winge about the rich…criticise me for that and I will construct a criticism…..criticise me about that..And I will try to find statistics or some other evidence.But this will remain inadequate,because what I might want to own is in the Real Estate window,rather than what every other honest or dishonest bastard gets up to for income.Thats the problem Rob. we look in the window and see red.And well it just adds to the bloody feeling we are both overgoverned and undergoverned by there being no government in action about our feelings thoughts and difficulties.Government by remote control, rather than all that you may claim.We the people,cliche, are governments TV.

  19. Bannerman [on 15]:
    Not quite right …. Banks employ people who think they sell money and who allow their whims and prejudices to interfere with commercial decisions.

    A case in point – former goldmining town of Mount Morgan just outside Rockhampton. Only a couple of years ago, lending institutions wouldn’t touch it with a barge-pole; it was thought to be crime-ridden and full of “welfare recipients” and with termites everywhere chomping up the old dumps. Oh the horror of it all. Consequently, houses there were incredibly cheap and as old-age pensioners (not thousands of “dole-bludgers”) died and their estates settled, these weatherboard houses were snapped up by investors, retirees and retrenched workers from down south with the hard cold cash to buy them.

    Nothing had changed in the town; no new industries had come in; still the same sleepy hilly old Mount Morgan …. but last year, it became a darling for the finance industry and suddenly sky’s-the-limit for borrowing to buy real estate there …. perhaps 800% ~ 1200% return on investment might have changed attitudes?

    Nah. That couldn’t possibly be it; we’re talking about rational, astute, observant, knowledgable professional people, aren’t we? ha-ha-ha.

    Philip Travers [on 14]:
    Just on maintenance: If you get a really close look at newer houses as they are being built, you may see worrying future maintenance problems being built into quite a few. Older houses can have maintenance and efficiency problems but often much less than is supposed – i,e,: the high-pitched roof, the high stumps and the window hoods in ordinary old Queensland cottages are remarkably efficient. Most maintenance in older houses can be done by the occupant; the standard and durability of such mainenance being dependant almost entirely on the training/experience and the vigour of the occupant.

    What is needed is a more practical and sensible all round approach to housing.

  20. I wont disagree with you Graham.But a roof over the head of people incapable of doing it themselves for some known reason is a problem.And if you are right,then surely as consumers people who own these houses have a right to wonder about lax laws that encourage costly repair.So who are the greedy if,you buy a thing on a moment of speculation,or builders and their workers not meeting standards?I think why so many hostilities occur around housing is because its a buyer beware scenario,and once the things built,well who wants to be caught again,trying to sell something faulty?A lack of real interest in building standards regularly dogs the home market..I simply cannot argue a case against your last post as I see people paying enormous amounts of money for workers houses then almost crying poor.They just wouldnt know how they insult.I think there should be some attempt at remedy of McMansion ill design,and ways of converting them to energy water and garden efficiency,and any other creative skill based solutions do it yourself or training others up in such work for emergency service regularities and in case people already living in accomodation that obviously needs renovation can have the marketable skills to sell them to their landlords in a mutually agreed solution.Thats all.Cities full of McMansions like Sydney and single people,from all backgrounds struggling with rents, seems like a market for each other as a bit of extra work and perhaps community building.Working class suburbs are in name only,thanks to the more money endowed going down market in the gavel sales.I have nothing in common with those who occupy workers houses as owners,I feel more for renters and even McMansion owners.

  21. 11.4.2007

    Dear Friends,

    Lack of housing affordability for many Australians requires urgent attention, because it is changing the fabric of our society, and its health.

    Our way of life is too important to let ourselves slip back to the era before Menzies. We cannot accept a society with a gap between rich and poor. Liberal self congratulation based only economic growth is misguided.

    People must be able to plan, work, save and eventually, achieve home ownership as one of life’s ambitions. This is part of modern life, and even, dare I say, of a ‘liberal’ attitude which places the onus on the individual.

    Stability is important for raising secure happy families.

    This problemcomes from housing being seen too much as an industry where only market forces matter. The object is profit (and tax right-offs) rather than a measurable output of affordable housing.

    Developers and the real estate industry are influential lobbyists, using every opportunity for enormous public media exposure. They profit from high prices, never blaming themselves for appropriate homes being unavailable, and seeking to cut their own costs. The industry calls for more land releases, and the cutting of taxes, continuing the cycle.

    Developers target luxury housing. Enforced interstate employment mobility means many families leave a home unoccupied. New flexible rental models would allow more of these to be occupied. Most real estate firms prefer the ease of standard rentals.

    WE NEED AN OPEN INDEPENDENT ENQUIRY INTO THE ACTUAL COMPONENT COSTS OF HOUSING, AND MARKETING PRACTICES, TAKING PUBLIC SUBMISSIONS.

    WE DO NEED SOME ASSISTED HOUSING. HOUSING SHORTAGES COST US THROUGH COMMUNITY ALIENATION AND BREAKDOWN. BUT HOUSING ASSISTANCE SHOULD NOT LEAD TO SUBSIDiSED ACCOMMODATION FOR LIFE.

    WE NEED BALANCED ASSESSMENT INVOLVING RESEARCHERS, THE INDUSTRY, GOVERNMENT AND USERS. LITERATURE AND RESEARCH ARE SO FAR BEING IGNORED.

    M A CLINCH
    Darwin

  22. I’m one of the people like Steph (Apr 3); female, mid-30’s NOT a first homebuyer but made the silly (in hindsight) decision to sell my house right before the housing boom, thinking I would buy back in, in a couple of years…I earn a very decent income yet I cannot support a mortgage anymore by myself. Shared equity loans seem to be the only way I will ever own a home again – I can never be a first homebuyer though, so things need to change in that way, first. Go Andrew!

  23. Andrea and Steph

    I got my home loan through Wizard. They market towards single women. They also won a housing loan award last year. Check them out.

  24. Thanks Steph, for supporting your mother! And the other women who responded in support. Interesting that most male contributors got into the bricks & mortar of the discussion, as it were.
    I would like to think that it is not the patriarchy keeping the good woman down, but it appears that with one 15yr old dependent, my child support and Income Tax Benefits A & B do not count as income for housing loan calculation purposes. Now who’s making the rules which discount a significant portion of most single mother’s incomes?
    Thanks for the tip Donna but I tried Wizard with no result.
    Like Andrea I sold my house before the boom; left with little choice, having 3 dependents at that time, low income and unreliable child support. Since then I have gained a degree, a well paid job and am understandably keen to once more own my own home. It would be nice to see some rules relaxed so that those who are trying to help themselves could be more enabled and supported.

  25. Elisabeth

    Which Wizard branch did you go to? The Wizard branch I went to is owned by a one time single mother. She was only too happy to help me.

    I am only too aware that I could have been in your shoes. Fortunately, the sale of my house was postponed. It was a blessing in disguise, and by the time it was ready for market, the housing boom had hit. I was fortunate to have that deposit for the house I now have, albeit I could only afford a humble house in a humble suburb, with a big mortage… but it’s a roof over our heads.

    I do feel tremendous sense of concern that women are disadvantaged in reentering the housing market, particularly with small children to accommodate.

    Women, such as youself, I feel are great investors because of your secure income and employment.

    If you could find another investor, would it be possible to buy something such as a duplex?

    The people that bought the house behind me were a group of three friends. They are slowly doing it up … just the garden and slapping a bit of paint on.

    It’s a foot in the door.

  26. when the howard govt came to power the average house in my area was $50.000 it is now $350.000. the average rent was $80.00 it is now $280.
    the average wage was $25.000 it is in fact less than $40.000 now no matter what the govt try,s to tell us .
    you dont have to be instine to figure out that it dose not ad up to well.
    i think that most of the ppl are starting to realise that proffit at any cost is is a bad thing because it puts our future into the hands of money driven ppl.
    untill we start putting a life tag before a price tag we will never become a nation to be an example to others.
    same goes for housing take away the greed and things will be better.

  27. vivy says:
    April 3rd, 2007 at 9:53 am
    We need to make it more difficult to profit from basic human necessities such as housing.

    That has got to be one of the more stupid comments I have read in a very long time. We most certainly should not be obstructing the construction and production of basic human necessities.

  28. vivy is right. Housing is such a fundamental requirement that it should be quarantined from speculation by spivs like Terje.

    We also need to reduce immigration pressures, especially on Sydney.

  29. What can I say?

    We now have the worst coalition government that we’ve had in decades – in terms of looking after the disadvantaged – no matter what the topic of discussion.

    When politicians are only interested in the wealthy, this is what we get.

    There are also too many people moving here from interstate and overseas – putting pressure on both housing and, more importantly, the water supply.

    And let’s not forget about greedy deregulated banks and their penchant for encouraging people to rack up huge debts.

    Phil is right about the quality of today’s housing. (BTW I am left-handed also.)

    I hate to mention this for fear of offending those opposed to anecdotes, but a retired friend of mine used to chair the board that oversees plumbing standards.

    Only a few months ago, he was doing his block about how plumbing standards had fallen – with builders cutting costs and taking shortcuts, while charging higher prices.

    Red Crab:

    Some people are earning less than $30,000 in full-time jobs. Yes, less greed would be better. So would greater societal discipline.

    I will try to read comments of other posters later. They look very interesting.

  30. It does seem that we are moving towards a two class society – the landed gentry and the penniless peasants.

    The new Industrial Relations legislation has guaranteed a very large leap in that direction.

    It will also very likely lead to more relationship breakdowns, further compounding poverty and related social issues.

    Has anyone tried the new high carbohydrate/very low protein “peasant” diet recommended by the Queensland state government?

    It’s almost enough to leave Feral frantically counting the number of chickpeas on his plate.

  31. …. 273, 274, 275 (lentils tonight). Personally I find counting quite relaxing.

    And all the money I save eating legumes rather than red meat puts me a little closer to home ownership.

  32. BTW I share Coral’s concern that housing costs may be pushing Australian society towards a two-class system: the property owners & landlords being one class and the perpetual renters being the other class. This is what I was alluding to with my ‘social engineering’ comment at #6.

    I don’t think we have reached that juncture yet. However, if current trends persist over the longer term it seems inevitable that ownership of a high proportion of the country’s housing stock will end up in the hands of a relatively small group of people.

  33. one would think that we have not learnt anything from history at all .
    when a small pecentage control most everything then there are consequenses.

  34. Affordable and decent housing is a very urgent issue that this country needs to face up to now.
    Certainly the ridiculous amount of taxpayer money the Howard government tips into rent assistance could be much better spent.

    Tell me how paying a person on any type of welfare payment up to around $105 a fortnight rental subsidy to live in a slum is good value for money.

    Personally I been in a situation like this:

    A caravan park in the southern suburbs of Brisbane. Here they charge $100 a week for a caravan and annexe, and also $130 a week for a “Donga” (which is one of those movable construction site buildings), the condition of these places is what I would call at the very least appalling. The walls are rotting, they leak every time it rains, they are infested with cockroaches and other nasties.
    The most disturbing part of this place would have to be the amenities block. Half of the toilets don’t work, the ones that do leak. The same with the showers, even the sinks usually get backflow from the blocked drains. The outside roof is literally falling down and is in a very bad state of disrepair.

    This is what rent assistance buys the taxpayer.

    The irony in this is that the Federal Government believes in freedom of choice.

    Well apparently this only applies if you are fortunate enough never to find yourself in this position.

    With rents in this area hovering around $250 a week for a three bedroom houseand a 7 to 8 year wait for public housing,
    Where exactly is the “freedom of choice” here?

    I guess these days you only get to choose if you have a very healthy bank balance.

    Where is the notion of “a fair go” gone?

  35. Its pretty clear that every one agrees theres a problem, everyone has their own idea of what might be causing it, but there are disagreements in the direction, force, attribution etc of the various factors. Well now we have clever people working in Unis and the Govt that should be able to figure it out. Surely at least they should take ownership of the problem and forge some decent public policy. I think it is our job as interested citizens to put this issue firmly on the agenda of our polies at each level. So far in the federal election leadup the polies are trying to avoid this one. I dont care if the suggested solutions from lobby groups are wrong so long as they bring the issue to the public arena

  36. Feral:

    But did you get that package in the mail from the State Government in regard to the new Health/Lifestyle/Diet guidelines?

    If you want to choose your chick peas from the protein list (as opposed to the vegetable list), you cannot have any eggs, nuts, fish, chicken or any other kind of meat on the same day.

    You get one serving of protein a day e.g. 2 eggs OR a handful of nuts OR the tiniest little can of tuna OR a serving of meat small enough to feed a 2 year old.

    If you wanted a man-sized serving of lentils from the vegetable list instead, you would only get 3 other vegetable choices. If you also had a salad sandwich for lunch – that might be it for veges for the day.

    You may also only have 2 servings of dairy products per day – e.g. 40g of cheese and a small tub of yogurt.

    A man may have up to 12 servings of carbohydrates (depending on lifestyle and need). If he decides to have plenty of bread, pasta or rice, he will end up with nothing to put on them – sort of a bread and water arrangement.

    Any kind of fats didn’t make it onto the dinner plate at all, so you can forget about putting on butter or margarine as well.

    I’m sorry this is off-topic, but I think it has a tie-in with various other poverty issues.

  37. Hi Coral, thanks for alerting me to that brochure. I’m not living in Qld these days, so it didn’t grace my mailbox, but it sounds very similar to the National Health and Medical Research Council guidelines.

    These are indeed rather spartan, presumably reflecting recent research indicating that a restricted dietary intake imparts longevity. However, they do permit one small daily serve of salty, sweet or fatty foods. Don’t forget that nuts and cheese are fatty foods too.

    Its worth remembering that these guidelines are not strict regulations about what any particular day’s diet should be, but rather what we should be aiming at for the average daily intake over the longer term. Another way of reading it is that it tells us how little we need to eat to obtain our basic nutritional requirements.

  38. I live in elwood am married to a wonderful man and have been in a secure three year lease. We have three children in our care, the eldest from a previous marriage. When our realestate agent did an inspection on the property the other day she boasted that she could get $450-500 if she re-let our apartment tommorow, my husband works full time and earns even less than last year with the IR reform (he was compelled in reality to exchange all public holidays for 5 days extra per year leave and has no penalty rates.) He earns under $40,000 per year for 42 hours work a week. All five of us are compelled by a family court order to live in Elwood till my eldest daughter (one of us) finishes her primary school (4 years away). We as a society are moving away from democracy into feverent capitalism and are being directed by those that reside in a beautiful world called La La land-the potential for peace of mind in the families of the workers is slipping- How can it be a “fair” system when is impossible to access basic human rights, ie affordable housing?

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