Report into housing affordability tabled

I’ve written a few earlier posts about the Senate Inquiry into Housing Affordability that was set up earlier this year. The Committee brought down its report yesterday – you can access it by clicking here. Whilst both I and the Greens’ Senator Rachel Siewert added some additional comments, the report has 32 recommendations which had the unanimous support of Liberal and Labor Senators.

I think it’s a very good report in the circumstances, which reflects well on the Liberal’s Marise Payne, who was the Committee Chair. The terms of reference were such that the Inquiry could easily have restricted itself mostly to bashing the Labor states and nitpicking about a few of the recent initiatives from the federal Labor government. Instead, the report provides a fairly broad sweep of the many issues involved in housing affordability.
I was especially pleased that it recognised the need for more money to be immediately put into social (i.e. public and community) housing. Another good recommendation called for the federal government’s panel conducting the review of the tax system to consider the implications for housing affordability, as well as the overall fairness, of the negative gearing provisions, the capital gains tax discount on investor housing and the exemption from land taxation of owner-occupied housing.
I think they should also look at the impacts of the capital gains tax exemption for the family home. This tax break, which is clearly regressive, is estimated to cost around $20 billion a year. If it was wound back in some way, it could free up some money to be redirected into affordable housing.
I know this sort of thing would be hugely controversial, so I can’t really blame major party senators for not going near it, but I still think it is rational policy and should be thrown into the debate. I had a few extra suggestions in my additional comments, like means testing the First Home Owners Grant and strengthening tenancy laws to provide more protection for tenants.

The big test now will be whether the federal government takes the Committee report seriously and engages with it, or whether it follows its predecessor and basically ignores all suggestions from Senate reports and the public who contribute to them.

ELSEWHERE: More on this topic in this piece by Ben Eltham at Crikey.

Are there any solutions? Yes, actually. The Federal Government can start to wind back the huge tax breaks for wealthier property investors and homeowners, and use the money saved to invest more in public housing and rental assistance. State and local governments can continue to plan for denser cities, despite the opposition of lobby groups like the Property Council. All governments can invest more in urban infrastructure — particularly public transport. Government departments could be moved out to regional towns. And, as citizens, we can also aspire to live in smaller homes. At the same time as housing affordability is worsening, the number of Australians living in each dwelling is falling.

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    House prices from 1994 unil 2001 in Qld were either stagnate for fell.
    We all know of people who bought home in those days for 120K that fell to 80k in 12 months. That was an unusual time and shouldnt have be taken as normal. We all know that houses in Qld from that peroid to 2007 rose remarkably and people lucky enough to have bought during the low gained from there investment over that period.
    (Once again freakish rises and shouldnt be taken into account over the normal investment cycle.) We are now seeing against the trend houses falling in price and selling for well under list. (I have personally witnessed a house sale at Ferny Grove selling for $150K under the list price and another at Yerong for $130K under the Bank’s valuation. The truth of the matter is that a house price is what someone is prepared to pay for it, and over the next few years who knows what that will be. What we do know by past experience that residential housing has had a solid 5% growth over 15 years over many decades and is the benchmark of all investors.
    These facts remain Lorikeet no matter what political party you may support and I dont know of any political parties that teach finance and investment. If you have been lucky enough to have retained and cashed in on the housing boom thats great, but I dont see then why you are attacking young couples on a combined income of $150k trying to purchase a home for $500K. (Insisting that they are in someway wealthy and that they should be frugile and send their kids to public schools and public hospitals so you can enjoy the fruits of your investment.)
    Lets face it you’ve made a killing because we have couples like this prepared to risk the financial hardships of purchasing a $500K plus house.


  2. Tony and Lorikeet:

    Whichever political party is in power and whatever their policies, it’s the remote, ignorant and – frankly – grossly incompetent senior fakes in the finance industry who determine the prices and availability of ordinary housing.

    Supply and demand have next-to-nothing to do with it.

    If supply-and-demand were in any way relevant to today’s housing situation …. then why do we have so many people desperate to sell their houses, so many keen to buy; so many builders ready to build houses and so many people anxious to have their houses built; so many families homeless and so many people wanting to buy rental investment properties? Even in a Depression, people still need to buy, sell, build or rent houses.

    So how do we rectify this completely artificial housing affordability scandal? By getting rid of those who caused and exacerbate the problem, of course. By a bank shareholders’ revolt? Forget it – it will never ever happen. The only way these overpaid dunderheads will ever be prised out of their cushy jobs is by manifest senile dementia, by a take-over by another financial organization or by the nationalization of the banks.

    Maybe we could try offering them each a contract not to return to Australia for ten years, few million dollars in any currency and a ONE-way first class air ticket to a place where their financial and economic genius[??] would be more appreciated: Harare? Yangon?

    Paying these boofheads to get lost would be far far cheaper than allowing them to continue wrecking the housing market and causing the taxpayers to divert valuable revenue into sorting out all the social damage they cause.

    Any better suggestions?.

  3. Tony:

    That’s complete hogwash, especially the 5% datum.

    I’m a disability pensioner who has lived in an ordinary modest home all of my life. My ex-husband and I mostly raised our children on one income, went without any luxuries ourselves and did community work.

    We almost lost our house when I got fired by the Hawke Labor government due to the fact I had a workplace injury. At the time, I was paying the mortgage, with my husband paying all other costs. We ended up paying the mortgage on one income with an interest rate of 17-1/2 percent. That’s with 2 high school students to educate.

    People must learn to live within their means, not expect to get everything they want for themselves and their children, and then start complaining when their excellent household incomes don’t stretch beyond breaking point. You have to work out a budget first.

    I just had the same conversation with my financially irresponsible whingeing sister. You know … head off to Dreamworld … send your kids to multiple activities you can’t afford … and then complain about only having Marmite and crackers left in the house until BOTH ADULTS get paid. Sheeeeesh!!!!!

    I said the person who has made a killing with multiple houses is my brother. You need to get your facts straight.


    Thats right things are bad and are looking to get worse. If either of the two majors gain government again after 2010 this country will be burdened with an emisson trading/cabon tax user pay scheme that will have unimageable consequences. With NZ introducing a similar policy their forecast is as follows, the scheme we will see electricity bills rise by 20%, petrol by 12 or more cents a litre, household spending shrinking by $3000 per annum. Household costs increasing by around NZ$19000 per year, Gross Demostic product shrinking by NZ $6 Billion, unemployment losses estimated up to 50,000 (NW 5th July 2008)
    This new consumption tax will increase the cost of argricultural products by over 46% (Mike Keogh , Australian Farm Institute).farmers will have to pay $70 to grave a cow. All this with no effect on the worlds emmissions whatsoever. What Government would do this to their people ? (The Two Headed Beast, thats who). I like the articles finish.
    Global Warming:
    It is a great story, and a phenomenal best seller. It contains a grain of truth and a mountain of nonsense. “We appear to have entered a new age of unreason. It is from this, above all, that we really do need to save the planet. – Patrick J Byrne (News Weekly 5th July 2008)
    Off all the blunders these two parties have made this will be the most devasting and also be the only irreverasable committment this nation has made. Lets hope the robot voters in our country wake up before then


  5. Everyone:

    If you want to see what’s happening with housing affordability right now, just do the rounds of the garage sales this weekend.

    Did the rounds of garage sales for the first time in ages last weekend – no longer ordinary families getting rid of accumulated junkpriceless treasures, or clearing out granny’s place after she moved into the nursing-home or the cemetry …. what’s being sold now are the wedding presents and anything that will bring in enough cash so as to meet the next payment.

    I’ll bet neither corporate nor government policy makers would lower themselves to see what is actually happening in the economy by looking at garage sales. It might spoil their whole weekend if they did.

    Is it just me or has someone else noticed the increase in “definitely will be sold on the day” auctions and the increase in the places being advertised as having a reliable long-term tenent in place? Wonder if “reliable long-term tenent” might have the alternative meaning of “owner can no longer keep up the payments but wishes to remain in the family home”?


    I’ll forward your comments to the REIQ and other investment and government organisations and have them change their data


  7. Tony:

    That would be an excellent idea.

    Here’s another example. My mother and father bought a war service home in 1951 for a few thousand pounds. Let’s give it $10,000 in today’s money.

    The same house with the original cupboards and fittings sold in 2004 for more than $300,000.

    The house sold for more than 30 times its original value, and that was before the recent boom.

    Now try to reconcile your average 5% per annum increase over 15 years with that.


    If your parents house was worth $10,000 in 1951 and sold for $300,000 thats a good investment return of just over 6.5%. But you you would need to calculate costs in and costs out IE Stamp Duty, Real Estate Sales commission though but all in all it certainly was a good invesment at 6.5%


  9. Tony and Lorikeet:

    Nice calculations on return-on-investment …. but let’s not lose sight of the fact that, each night, we each need a place to sleep …. and I wonder how many ordinary [that is, non-dropkick, non-squandering] families have been turfed out onto the street in the past week because they couldn’t afford to keep up the payments on their house or flat.

    Let’s divide housing into two completely separate parts, each with its own regulations, laws, system of financing, building codes and whatever.

    One part for Basic Dwellings – perhaps financed on a rent-to-buy scheme by a Commonwealth government monopoly [yes, I did say m-on-o-p-o-l-y] with a system of transferable credits so that if workers see better employment opportunities on the other side of the country, they can simply fill in the forms, pack up, clean up and do any repairs [or pay to have them done by the authority’s tradies], have to dwelling inspected – and then go on their way rejoicing. [Goodbye to any labour market inflexibility and regional shortages too].

    Those who have saved the money to do so could then elect to enter the other part of the housing system; those who cannot or will not enter the private part or those who lack ambition will still have a roof over their heads

    The other part for Investment Residential Property – reserved for muck-mansions, bludger-palaces and high-rise kennels – where those with dreams of fabulous wealth can move their money around to their hearts’ content; where fortunes can be made and lost.

    This would be the part where the ambitious and the squanderers alike can build their chateaux and their follies; where there are a minimum of restrictive regulations [except rigorous engineering inspections to prevent passers-by being killed by collapsing structures].

    Why not?

    Dividing our housing system in two would abolish a lot of the inefficiency and tragedy that goes with the present mess.

  10. Tony:

    I have now done the Math. If my parents’ home had complied with your set of statistics i.e. 5% interest over any 15 year period, its value when sold would only have been $132,749. That’s one helluva sight less than $300,000.

    At 6.5% compounding interest, it would have been worth $281,532.

    Don’t forget I said it sold for MORE THAN $300,000. I have never been privvy to the exact figure.

    My parents never factored in compounding interest or resale costs on the only home they ever purchased. Their only goal was to keep a roof over the heads of their children.

    Their home was sold a few years after my father died. My mother had to use the money from the sale of her home to pay the bond on a Low Care place in an Aged Care Centre. I might add that the value of her house barely covered the outrageous ripoff demanded, to provide little more than a single bedroom and bathroom.

    Last night on TV, someone was calling for an enquiry into the practices used in aged care centres again – particularly infection control.

    Not all of us view housing (no matter what its form) as if we are bank managers or investors looking to profit from the hardship of others.

    Graham Bell:

    It would be interesting to know how much money is currently going into public housing.

    All of the 5 storey outrageously priced units behind the Brookside Shopping Centre at Mitchelton seem to have been sold, but aren’t due for completion until 2009. It would be interesting to know how many of the units from the first release (completed this year) are owned by investors.

    Now I am being offered first choice of the final “small boutique development”, probably at some even more outrageous price, that I certainly could not afford.


    Dont forget that I gave them the benefit of the doubt and left out holding costs. Including Rates, repairs and general maitenance so over the 53 years it still looks closer to the 5% benchmark used throught by the industry. (A similar investment in cash would have returned a helluva lot more than maintaining an expensive investment like a house.


  12. Tony:

    I calculated the interest rate attached to my current home, where I have lived for 22 years. It came in at about 9.5%.

    A person gets taxed to the eyeballs on cash investments.

    When you have tenants in the house, they end up paying the mortgage, council rates and maintenance costs, which is quite significantly different from living in the house yourself.


    I’m sure you’d make a great Real Estate Salesperson
    With calculations like that you’d make millions


  14. Tony, re the comment:

    ‘When you have tenants in the house, they end up paying the mortgage, council rates and maintenance costs . . ’

    Don’t forget the main advantage to investors is that they can also claim mortgage interest deductions from OUR tax system.

    Together, those two statements make it sound as if investors are free-loaders.

    However, I suppose we should really sheet home responsibility for this state of affairs to a culpable Nanny state. The Nanny state is stuck in the welfare for the wealthy or tax-breaks-r-us mentality. I sometimes wonder what it will take to wake up govt to the social destruction of the next generation. Perhaps, even if they understood that, they would not give a hoot anyway. I am sure they are intelligent enough to understand, but

    Maybe Australia is the new China, devoid of a social or moral conscience. Sad if that is true.

  15. Tony:

    I just used a basic compound interest calculation. If I had calculated it over the last 5 years, the results would have been much higher.

    I think I have easily proven that 5% per annum over any 15 year period is nothing more than a load of bunkum.

    It isn’t me who’s trying to make money out of other people’s poverty. I’m sure landlords and real estate agents are all doing very nicely.

    BTW please don’t try to make other people look as if they’re greedy or stupid after you have lost the argument – especially when the greed and lack of compassion both seem to lie at your end.

  16. KEN:

    (I know him I dont think he’d take to kindly to that statement)
    But who knows she may nominate for a branch position. The membership is growing so fast its hard to keep up. Seems like the only logical place to be these days.
    Couldn’t image them accepting you though Ken.


  17. Transparent: Re: “those two statements make it sound as if investors are free-loaders“. I think the last thing Tony would say was that investors are freeloaders. It was Lorikeet that despises landlords and other evil capitalists despite the fact that they obviously meet a need in the absence of sufficient public housing.

    Tony: Just looked at the DLP website and must admit that there’s no objectionable policies (keep in mind though that I’m not one of Bob Brown’s devotees).

    On topic, “capital grants for first home owner-occupiers, based on an approved prior record of regular savings, and tax-subsidised low-interest loans” should appeal to many concerned with housing affordability, particularly when entering the market as a first time buyer.

    You say “membership is growing so fast its hard to keep up“. That sounds like a mighty number, and I’m curious, would you care to give some idea of its magnitude?

  18. GZG:

    Well as you know we have a number of long serving members who have passed away recently. I had the honour to have met them and learnt the party history. The privalage of talking and learnining from these men has rejuventated my national pride and love of my country. Men that stood down form political positons on prinicple, men who marched with with the troops when they returned from Viet Nam.(The two headed beast hid in buildings) I have never felt so determined to at least attempt to replace what these men did for Australia. In Qld we have had real problems trying to recruit candidates that are free thinking and love their country like our forebearers. Against all that though we believe that we have and are recruiting candidates that will once again make this country the envy of the world. Bod Menzies formed government under the (United Australia Party) with 4 non communist labor members (DLP). After leaving the liberal party (and being granted a life long membership) he joined the DLP and donated to the party until his death. Bill hayden admits in his forward to (Demons & Democrats) that the parties distibutivism would be very popular and a massive vote winner in todays society. Even the Ex-Senator that runs this site will admit that he was effected by these fine politicians. Lets hope like everyone else that we can rebuild this respect for our next of candidates and members.

    Ps: Naomi just so you dont feel left out which party introduced into parliament…. Equal pay for equal work for women… The DLP that who.
    Your lefties might have supported it but put credit where credit is due.

  19. Some of the members and elected representatives of the DLP may well have been fine people. Some past and present members and clerics of the Catholic Church may well be fine people, indeed I know they are.

    I am old enough, though, Tony, to remember the damage that the sectarianism of the 1950s caused to the people of many small and large communities in Australia. Our neighbour, a wonderful man, was villified for his work helping aborigines and down-and-outs in an inland city. We children were told by the nuns to cross the road rather than walk on the footpath past his house. Blow-in priests backed a move to run him out of town, yet he’d lived there all his life, and his father and grandfather before him.

    I remember sitting in Mass while priests told the faithful how to vote … woudl you support that sort of thing again? I hope I never see the day of hte return of the influence of that pernicious policy of dividing Australia by religion … and my cousins the priests and nuns say the same.

  20. Transparent:

    Yes, that’s a very insightful comment, sad as it is.


    Don’t expect me to manage the economy. If you don’t crawl up the butts of the more wealthy end of “middle Australia”, you’ll be out on your ear whether you are economically responsible or not.

    While it sounds as if the DLP has at least some good policies, I think its members must be confused as to where real poverty lies, and who is making a buck from whom.

    I have no doubt that the DLP could use a new treasurer, if the skewed ideas being purveyed here are any indication. Otherwise some of us could be down to our last wringing wet handkerchief for no good reason.


    I don’t despise anyone. I just don’t like it when people who are clearly of substantial means start whingeing.


    Can you clearly define “distributivism”, if that’s the term that you meant to use?

    In relation to “equal pay for equal work”, I think it has been proven that women are almost always overlooked when it comes to promotion to senior management positions. Yes, it’s still happening in 2008. We don’t have “equal pay for equal ability”.

    Women have continued to be discriminated against in the workplace in many other ways.

    Furthermore, almost the entire workforce seems to have been kneecapped by Workchoices legislation, especially those doing part-time and casual work.

    If you intend to stand as a candidate, you will clearly need a speech writer and publicist who can actually spell (no offence meant).



    “While it sounds as if the DLP has at least some good policies, I think its members must be confused as to where real poverty lies, and who is making a buck from whom.”
    I have no idea what that statement is suppose to mean. I find that most insulting. If you have seen some of the partys pensioner campaigns you’d know how insulting and ill informed that statement was. The DLP also campaigned against workchoices so no need to add that one in as well. Remember the high court of Victoria ruled us as the true labor party.
    I have put my views (Not any Party of cause) to you on many occasions. I know you refer to middle incommers as filthy rich, and I have pointed out, that without those middle income earners your little nest egg wouldnt be what it is worth today. I mention to couples like (boilmakers and nurses) that your opinion is common amongst ALP voters and they are quite upset. Middle income earners are really doing it tough these days as well, I know you like to attack them but that is a fact. (You’ve seen the scales from $90K right up to $150K.) on those scales what price house should they buy ? Remember we have to look right accross the economy not just in Lorikeet’s family.
    . Its frightening how fast houses are falling in price at the moment.
    I look accross the broader economy and things arent looking good. (A few Multinational mining companies are doing okay but not even MT ISA mines is Australian anymore).
    Yes Lorikeet and to think we still have people who actually whinge but still proceed like robots into polling booths and vote ALP. (Like yourself)
    Distributivism : The full breakdown would take to much for this blog.
    It is an old church valued for of decentralisiation, and distributism, meaning the ownership of assets remain with the people. The opposite of what is being attempted today in this country with the move towards global governance. The full meaing is easily available on the web


  22. Lorikeet: We could all make use of a proofreader from time to time, (some may indeed need to be supported by staff however).

    “I just don’t like it when people who are clearly of substantial means start whingeing

    I won’t go trawling through the records, but my recollection is that you’ve actively and consistently berated landlords whilst whinging about their entitlement to taxation relief through negative gearing.

    As argued elsewhere, if you cut negative gearing, investors would exit the market in droves, leaving those poorer members of society out on the street unless the government took up the investors mantle and funded more public housing.

    It’s just like private schools; if the government didn’t help fund them, they’d have to fund more public schools. Simple enough, though there may be a little devil in the detail.

  23. Dolphin:

    The DLP stands by it Judeo Christian and traditional values.
    While the Victorian DLP was some 60% catholic, its not to say all DLP members are of that faith.( Especially in Qld where its roots came out of the QLP). When the communists broke away from the party in Victoria there were many things corrupt in the labor party like union vote rigging, and branch stacking similar to today. (Not to mention the communist influence)

    I think history has shown that the DLP were right in their stand and Bob Santamaria’s warnings against communism and extreme capitalism should surely be held more important today, then ever before. Over the years the party has developed, and in all my dealings I have never known of or would support any influence from any church group. Theology is always left at the door and never discussed in any meetings I have attended, or know about. Today we stand with a full set or national policies that are more important to Australians then ever before.


  24. OK, enough on the DLP. Interesting topic, but totally off-topic in regard to this thread. Given how much it keeps coming up, I have done a post inviting discussion on DLP then and now – any comments on that should go there – click on this link. Any comments about it on other posts may be deleted as off-topic.

  25. Tony:

    I have said many times that I am not generally a Labor supporter. I voted Labor to get shot of Howard, just as many other people did.

    I have never belonged to a political party. I prefer to vote for Independents, who don’t have to tow a party line.

    You seem to be primarily interested in middle to high income earners and those who can afford private school education and investment properties.

    I have never referred to middle income earners as “filthy rich”.

    Perhaps if you only had $14,000 to live on, your attitude might change.

    Maybe you could trying running this past your $150,000 income householders. There are couples out there both working a 40 hour week for the minimum wage. Their gross household income is only $55,000 with both parents working.

    Your anti-Labor well-paid whingers can stick that up their pipes and choke on it.

    Alternatively, they can go to a nastier part of Africa, where their main concern might be where the next meal is coming from, or when their heads might be chopped off with machetes.


    I will support pensioners and low income earners anytime over landlords profiteering from them.

    If Tony wants to bring on the harps and violins for couples earning $150,000, or for people who can afford investment properties, I will argue the other side any time.


    My primary concern has always been middle to low income earners.
    As well as small farmers, small businesses and pensioners.

    The fact that you attack middle income earners so often, it may appear to you that your statement is correct. But I have defended all of the groups above in all my posts.


  27. Tony:

    Then let’s allow the people of the blogosphere to be the judges – and that’s including other discussions we have had on housing and finance.

    They can also take a look at your party’s policies through GZG’s link on Andrew’s DLP post. Nothing could be fairer than that.

  28. Everyone:

    Was I expecting too much in the wayof comments?

    Way way back on 12th July, I suggested chopping the housing system in two – not into renters and owners …. but into an Investment-&-Luxury part and an Essential Residential part [or by whatever names you care to call them] with a capability to allow people to move quickly and freely between the two parts.

    That means that if a family had the ability to “keep up with the Joneses” they could move out of their modest dwelling into palace with a “family room” bigger than their former home – and make or lose a fortune doing so.

    Similarly, if a family suddenly fell on hard times [such as through a serious illness or a firm being wound-up] they could move straight into affordable housing in the other part of the housing system without any fuss or humiliation and without clogging-up the overworked welfare system. A lot of financial issues could be resolved swiftly and finally – and well before having to reach the Bankruptcy Court too..

    This would not take the risks out of one’s life at all …. but it would bring place-of-abode back into proportion with all the other risks one takes in life.

    Are there any comments/criticisms on this?

  29. Graham Bell:

    My feeling is that the cheaper housing would have a long waiting list.

    People who are wealthy won’t want to trade down under any circumstances, unless forced.

    I used to work in bankruptcy once (Federal Court). Every week, thousands of people went broke in order to MAKE money.

  30. Graham – Is the essential residential part free (well free to the occcupant obviously nothign is free to the community).

    What distinguishes this from free public housing and the sadly unforutnaet entrencehed disadvantage largely entrencehd in existing public housing.

  31. Lorikeet:

    No long waiting list necessary.

    The freeing up of building codes – consistent with structral durability and strength – as well as zoning regulations and the like, would mean that a lot dwellings would be erected very rapidly.

    You are right. Wealthy people don’t want to trade down – nor move “down” – unless forced to do so. Building such dwellings in ALL suburbs would prevent ghettos of the poor forming; that in itself would create a few new social problems but relatively minor ones.

    Aaaah yes, Rorters we have known …. There would have to be screening and supervision processes to stop, for instance, shonks grabbing handy little houses in every city – one one the name of each family member who swears they are the permanent resident. Rorting would need to be prevented by having effective counter-measures solidly in place before things got started; prevention is better than trying to catch the shonks afterwards.


    Free housing? No way!!!

    Affordable housing – with rent being a [fixed?] percentage of actual nett income …. with credits towards eventual ownership of a dwelling …. with the reward of further credits for improvements made on the basic dwelling and its surrounds so that if a family has to chase work all around Australia over several years, they will eventually end up owning a basic dwelling which they can either stay in for the rest of their days …. or, if they are ambitious, move into the luxury housing system by selling their basic dwelling back to the authority [at an annually fixed price] for the deposit.

    This might sound like snakes-and-ladders but …. It is highly unlikely that dropkicks will ever accumulate enough housing credits – after punitive loss of credits in proportion to the damage done to dwellings – to ever do more than pay rent. Serial house-wreckers would find themselves in concrete boxes without breakable fittings; not flash but still a roof [of sorts] over their heads

  32. Everyone:

    Further to my comment above:

    Since residents in the Affordable Dwelling part would be, through their rent, earning credits towards outright ownership of a house of their choice in a location of their choice [according to availability and demand] rather than equity in a specific house …. there is no reason why those private investors who prefer to get a low but steady income to the wild ups-and-downs of the open property market could not make their dwellings available for rent too. Something similar is done with the leasing of private houses for Australian Defence Force personnel right now.

    The downsides of what I propose are: [1] That at any one time, a small proportion of dwellings would be empty between occupants, and [2] That a certain percentage of dwellings in any particular suburb or town would have to be designated as never to be sold and as for rental only – so as to prevent the stock of dwellings in exceedingly popular locations being depleted too quickly.

    Active measures would have to be taken so as to prevent the formation of ghettoes – with all the associated discrimination, “postcoding” and alienation.

  33. Graham:

    Yes, I used to live in an area that had both public and private housing. I think it’s a better arrangement than complete segregation.

    When I was a leader with The Scout Association, I had to go into homes and interview parents to assess their children’s capabilities and needs.

    These visits took me to various parts of Logan City – from suburbs where the rich had marble statues in their foyers – to the middle of a solely public housing estate, where there were mostly sole parents doing it very tough.

    That suburb had gangs of fatherless boys roaming the streets, with the mothers powerless to do very much about it. Dumping all of the unpartnered mothers together is an exercise in stupidity.

    In the “mixed” area in which I lived, sole parent children had more access to adult male company and married couples who could take them on outings – and help their mothers out with maintenance and childcare issues. Well, at least some of us did it.

    My area contained ordinary 3 bedroom homes – both public and private. The rich lived elsewhere.

  34. Lorikeet, you said ….

    ” Dumping all of the unpartnered mothers together is an exercise in stupidity”

    Yea verily! Fantastic way of making sure that any seeking a man in their lives again – even a new husband – would be in fierce competition with each other. Almost as good as the genius who decided to separate Greeks and Turks from each other, at the height of the crisis in Cyprus, by putting them on alternate floors in the same high-rise apartment building.


    Housing is the topic for ABC Radio National’s Australia Talks talk-back program at 18:05 EST next Monday. I think their phone number is on their page on the ABC site and follow the trail of buttons.

  35. Graham:

    A fierce competition for a new husband was certainly not on the agenda.

    These women were so poverty stricken they couldn’t afford to go out and meet anyone, not even travelling as a pack. Then there was the question of babysitters.

    At that time, only about 30% of men paid child support (before the days of the Child Support Agency). I think it was the ALP who made things better for sole parents in relation to child support and family payment, with compliance rising to about 75%.

    On the whole, I don’t think most Australian men have ever wanted to take on someone else’s children, unless their mothers were excellent manipulators.

    Back then, the ex-husbands generally moved on to younger, childless partners, while the sole parent females got stuck with a struggle to make ends meet on their own.

    As a consequence, one of my cub scouts ended up joining a street gang when he was older, and finished up behind bars – a terrible outcome for such a nice boy.

  36. Lorikeet”

    Point taken.

    I had just one urban location in mind when I said that.

    Actually, you’ve hit on an important issue: how changing bad attitudes [in this case, towards lone mothers with children] can have a beneficial effect on housing …. and presumably on housing affordability.

    Housing policy – both corporate and governmental – seems to have built into it the attitude of “Why permit happiness to happen when we can inflict misery, boredom and purposelessness instead?”. …. or that’s what it feels like sometimes.

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