ACT Government: we won’t let land prices fall

ScreenHunter_01 Jun. 02 20.31

By Leith van Onselen

In mid-January 2003, just days before bush fires hit the outlying suburbs, my girlfriend (now wife) and I moved to Canberra from Melbourne so that I could commence work as an economist at the Australian Treasury.  Fortunately for us, we had secured rental accommodation in December 2002, so were unaffected by the severe rental squeeze caused by the destruction of around 500 homes in the capital.

The supply situation in Canberra was already very tight, and the cost of renting prior to the bush fires was well beyond what could be found in Melbourne. Many others that arrived into the ACT after the bush fires were forced into expensive share accommodation, often located in the far outer suburbs or in regional New South Wales.

One thing that separates Canberra from the major capitals is that there are swathes of vacant land located within only a moderate commute of the various activity centres, be it Civic, Woden, Tuggeranong, Belconnen, or Gungahlin. In an open market, free from excessive government interference, such land would be made open to development, ensuring that land prices remained affordable for housing.

Alas, such a situation does not exist in the ACT. Instead, the government owns most of the available land, which it rations to the market via a quota system, thus ensuring that land prices remain high and homes are overly expensive.

Indeed, a 2011 report from the ACT Auditor General found Canberra’s land supply policies to be lacking, resulting in a structural undersupply of land made available for development and deteriorating housing affordability:

…the land supply and release process and programs to date have not been effective in achieving the Government’s stated objectives, which include meeting demand, providing affordable land and housing and establishing an inventory of serviced land….

ACT Government agencies have not used a robust model in identifying residential dwelling demand…

Agencies have consistently under-estimated the apparent demand for residential dwellings within the ACT, and ACT Government land release targets have been significantly and frequently revised upwards in recent years. Despite the current accelerated land programs, there was evidence of a shortage of the supply of residential land, capable of being built on, to meet the pent-up and on-going strong demand.

Indeed, the artificial strangulation of supply by the ACT Government has led to buyers literally camping-out for lots:

The ACT’s government resorted to a “virtual” ballot after buyers camped out for a week in freezing temperatures to secure blocks of land…

In Canberra’s Forde, a new suburb 14km north of the city, hopeful buyers spent up to a week queuing and camping…

Developers eventually allocated numbers to potential buyers and sent them home…

“There were campervans, people in caravans and tents – it was quite a sight,” Mr Lynch said of the buyers queuing a week ago to get a toehold in the Canberra market…

While the ACT Government has since moved to a balloting system, it continues to drip feed lots to the market via a quota system, thereby ensuring land prices remained high:

In [the ACT's] ballot [system], potential buyers register online and receive a number which is entered into an electronic ballot draw system.

Ballot numbers are drawn sequentially and results are uploaded on to the LDA’s website.

If successful in a ballot people are invited to select and purchase a block…

More than 800 people registered  for a ballot of 98 blocks at Jacka last year. At Harrison more than 1800 registered  for 294 single residential blocks offered.

Mid last year, it looked like the ACT Government was moving to right past housing wrongs, announcing that it would significantly boost land supply across the Capital:

ScreenHunter_797 Jan. 14 09.18

Unfortunately, the ACT Government is now set to reverse its position, flagging that its will slow its land release program and thereby maintain artificial scarcity of land supply and sky high land prices:

“The ACT government will reduce its land release program as the territory’s rate of population growth slows…

‘Given that half of all jobs in the city are coming from the major employer, that decision of theirs has to slow population growth,” he said…

He said a boom between 2008 and 2013 ”both in terms of our economy and our population” would not be replicated in the next four to five years.

”What we’ll be looking at is a reduced land release program – releasing land over a longer period,” he said.

The move would slow commercial and residential development, Mr Barr said. ”The city is going to grow more slowly.”

”That’s the bottom line. That flows through to our budget, our infrastructure decisions, the pace of land release, how much commercial and industrial land the market can absorb [and] what demand there’ll be for residential land in various locations.”

The median house price in the ACT is a whopping $562,000 according to APM, with median house rents a ludicrous $463 per week – ludicrous because the ACT is effectively a large town with abundant vacant land in and around the “city”. This decision by the Government to strangle land supply will maintain the status quo, to the detriment of younger Canberrans and those locked-out of the home ownership.

Further, given the ACT Government has failed to accurately project housing demand in the past – as acknowledged by the Auditor General – what makes the Government think that it can accurately assess the situation this time around?

[email protected]

www.twitter.com/leithvo

53 Responses to “ “ACT Government: we won’t let land prices fall”

  1. Lori says:

    And still no one protests? Any government would squeeze its people until they remain silent.

    • Labrynth says:

      Why protest when we are all getting rich?

      However it is amazing that any of these forecasters still have jobs. Typical Australians rewarding those who constantly get things wrong.

      • ArchCC says:

        They are paid to get it wrong.

        Same for the demand forecasters at AEMO.

        Same for the traffic forecasters for the [insert name] tunnel in [choose from: Sydney; Melbourne; Brisbane].

    • Ajaydee73 says:

      No one protests because so few actually understand what is happening.

    • Mik says:

      I think FHB need to lower their expectations for buying. When I bought my first home it was 12sq, now we see dumb adverts such as this.

      http://www.realestate.com.au/property-house-vic-pakenham-115063507

      FFS they even us “Sexy Emma” in the first line

      look at the inclusions compared to 87 when I bought.

      my house had
      no fencing,
      no white goods,
      no aircon,
      no garage or carport
      no carpets
      no driveway
      no clothes line
      no letterbox or front garden landscape
      no flyscreens

      removing all of these from a house and land package would probably save another 50 grand on the price of the house, making it more affordable for young kids today, mum and dad would help out with furniture and you would add equity as you lived in it.

      who to blame, the builders? the FHB who want it all and want it now at whatever cost they can nearly afford.

      • insideinvestorblog says:

        One can of course limit their expectations on the house, but it doesn’t negate the fact that land values are still ridiculously high.

        I suspect that you own your own home outright and have no real experience or comprehension of the dilemma facing first home owners.

  2. myne says:

    Wow, these shenannigans remind me of George Pullman.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Pullman

    If I was a farmer in Sutton, Wamboin etc I’d be lobbying my council to hell and back to subdivide.

  3. TheRedEconomist says:

    It is a national disgrace.

    Whenever I go to Canberra I amazed that it is so expensive considering the hectares of vacant land.

    Other than few hills there is no real natural barriers.

    Competitive Advantage is one of the first things you learn in Commerce at School

    Australia has abundance of land.

    But this endowment is priced out by land bankers and complicit local councils and governments.

    This is where the next Royal Commission should be directed!!!

    • Yes, RedE. Government restricting land supply is foolish policy. Extremely patronizing too. They direct the choices of citizens by limiting our options and driving up the price of all land. Grave errors are being made.

      Don’t Buy Now!

    • PhilBest says:

      Hear, hear.

      I say this is like; fighting a war with an enemy who outnumbers you 20 to 1, but who all suffer from a disability, let’s say they are lame. But we “lame” all our soldiers too so we won’t have an unfair advantage.

      This is what strangling our urban economies is like. Lack of land is a serious disadvantage to Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and some European countries. We can understand that high land prices will comprise a competitive disadvantage to those countries. So let’s give ourselves high urban land prices too, so our manufacturing sector doesn’t have any advantage. Who needs urban economies anyway when we can sell rocks?

  4. Tiliqua scincoides says:

    Obviously the people in decision making positions own property in the ACT and don’t want to see the value of their assets fall. I’m sure they have plenty of pressure from other vested interests to maintian high prices too.

    It’s a shame as Canberra, with it’s existing infrastructure, could be a perfect place to reduce housing costs and attract new start ups etc.

  5. meltfund says:

    Phew! We’re glad about that.

    Then again, we knew it would happen.

    Rent is a great thing.

    When its rising, that society is in advance,

    When falling, decline.

    Never in history have land prices fallen.

    Except when that civilisation is about to fall, and be buried out of sight.

    Look at Rome. It was already in decline when its walls were being built from marble.

    Only Capital depreciates over time.

    Land value is the only thing that rises.

    Even FOREX is merely the value of the property of a nation.

    So buy land, avoid tax and live and find wealth.

    • Hector says:

      Meltfund, actually investing in your mortgage arbitrage fund aside, I find it difficult to fault your logic. It’s a breath of fresh air.

  6. The Patrician says:

    The stupidity of this approach is astonishing and the mindset is probably at the heart of Australia’s chronic undersupply of residential land.

    Contrast with Bob Katter’s approach in Charters Towers and his ready supply of <$10,000 house blocks.

    The revenue of the ACT govt should be more closely tied to land releases and LVT. They should be competing on land price with other authorities to attract new residents, businesses and revenue.

    It’s not clear to me what their motivation is.

    Through some twisted logic do they see new land releases as a threat to land prices and therefore a threat to LVT revenue? I thought the purpose of the LVT was to ensure a growing stream of revenue as land releases increased.

    Are they saying they cannot afford the infrastructure cost of the new releases because revenues are forecast to drop?

    So the plan is to reduce land releases to save money and keep land prices high and make it less attractive for people to move here? That should work…if you want to kill the joint.

    Pfh007, Canberra may be a good trial venue for your MUD infrastucture funding proposal.

    We need govt to view land releases as a revenue positive venture, not an expense.

    Canberra and Darwin are microcosms of the Australian dilemma. Blessed with the comparative advantage of cheap abundant land, through a mixture of greed and incompetence we have managed to turn this advantage into the gross disavantage of some of the most expensive residential land on the planet.

    So much for Canberra as the Houston of the South.

  7. tsport100 says:

    Talking about “a large town surrounded by abundant vacant land”… isn’t Darwin also one of the most over-priced land markets in Australia?

    On a recent visit the place felt about the size of Bathurst and driving south out of suburban Darwin there is pretty much nothing but vacant land for the next 3,000 km.

    • Absolutely. Darwin faces a similar dilemma.

    • squirell says:

      yes Darwin is crazy. I always point to examples like that as proof that the general rise in prices in Aus is more to do with speculation/supply constrints than actual shortage of land. Another example is to compare prices in lifestyle areas like Bright versus buying a villa in France eg wine country / south of France. France has 400 million Europeans on its doorstep and i would say has a lot more going for it yest you would get a lot more for your money.

    • Bubbley says:

      Yes Darwin is insane and is surrounded by millions of acres of available land.

      The NT gov says it can not afford the infrastucture upgrades to expand the city. The last time anything (and I do mean anything) was done in Darwin it was 1974-1978 in the wake of cyclone Tracy.

      This city has been busting at the seams for 15 years. It has been consistently mismanaged by buffoons and corrupt vested interest and there are about 5 old money family’s that run this city.

      The Wickham point detention centre would be a very interesting place for an anti corruption inquiry to start.

      Today, as in right now, Darwin only has 4 houses for sale under $600k in the four main post codes that make up the city (not including Palmerston)

      It really is insane.

      • Wing Nut says:

        Remember former CM Paul Henderson refusing to apologise for the crap state of housing saying the prices had benefitted more. Only won the election on a bees dick from a healthy majority.

      • Bubbley says:

        That was a direct line from John Howards play book. He said the same thing around 2003-5.

  8. Explorer says:

    Maybe the ACT government wants to maintain some sort of “land price growth parity” with the rest of Australia. It would make sense from some points of view.

    For the government and its suppliers and the suppliers of the labour force to attract people and investors, there must be a rational expectation of an equivalet net return from exertion (except for those who are in dire straights and otherwise unable to gain jobs elsewhere.

    Would anyone move to ACT and buy a property if they did not expect the same capital gain as in Sydney or Melbourne?

    Investors want capital gain to offset the potential losses using negative gearing. Employees don’t want to be locked out of other markets for employment because they get no growth in house prices in ACT but everywhere else has gone up.

    If there was a history of below average house price growth, many would want higher wages to move there. In fact many public servants have only moved to Canberra for promotion and higher wages (at least in the period say a decade of more ago).

    • squirell says:

      Explorer,

      I doubt that. You would atract all the “i’d rather not pay an additional 600k in another capital city when i earn the same wage would rather have a great lifestyle i can afford and invest remaining funds in other assets when my house is paid off 20 years earlier than if i lived in Sydney” types.

      • Explorer says:

        UE,
        That was the case many years ago and part of the attraction of moving for promotion, but to allow prices to fall would disadvantage the status quo for the majority of the dwelling owning population including investors.

        This blog focuses on house prices in two main areas:
        1. First home buyers
        2. The overall cost in goods and services from realestate as an input.

        The argument in favour of first home buyers will never be addressed by making house as a whole cheaper to the detriment of existing owners. It’s political suicide. Too much career risk for those who intentionally bring it on. The flow through into bank share prices is also relevant given our super system and equity allocations and the size of the banks in our ASX.

        The second is subservient to the political imperatives outlined above.

        It is only a crisis that will result in falls in nominal value as it has to be outside the control of politicians and RBA (who have banking system stability as a concern).

        Assistance to first home buyers will be given from time to time, maybe limited to first home builders at times.

        Regional Growth, and moving employment to lower cost areas might occur, but no politician or public servant will accept the career risk of intentionally reducing nominal home prices.

        So the choice is buy now or bet that I will be able to buy cheaper later, probably at a time of high unemployment in Australia (which may not require an international recession.)

        There may be a chance to buy cheaper in say 3 years as the mining construction boom unwinds, but maybe their won’t.

        Some may gamble that lower interst rates in a time of unemployment will give higher capitalisation rates to protect prices. Others may figure that the Libs will institute emergency measures such as infrastructure that will alleviate/eliminate unemployment and there will be no housing nominal price falls. Others may expect that inflation of 2% in all the factors of dwelling production, including costs of subdivision and services of land, will cover any falls in real value and just mean a slightly lower return over the long term. Others on maximum marginal rates will simply continue to invest to shelter current income.

        Place your bets.

    • You have your arguments back-to-front, Explorer. The Government could more easily attract workers to the ACT if homes and rents were significantly more affordable, effectively increasing disposable incomes. This would also save them in wages costs.

      A key reason for the higher wages costs in the ACT is its relatively expensive cost of living given its isolated location. Lower land costs would alleviate cost of living pressures.

    • arescarti42 says:

      “Would anyone move to ACT and buy a property if they did not expect the same capital gain as in Sydney or Melbourne?”

      This kind of thinking is absolutely cancerous and toxic, and reflects the societal change in mindset from a house predominantly as shelter and a place to live, to some kind of get rich quick investment vehicle. Housing that serves the role of an affordable place to live is completely irrelevant, the only aspect that matters is the capital return to investors.

      “Investors want capital gain to offset the potential losses using negative gearing. Employees don’t want to be locked out of other markets for employment because they get no growth in house prices in ACT but everywhere else has gone up.”

      Here’s a newsflash, an entire generation of people is already locked out of home ownership nation wide. If the options are being locked out from all markets permanently, or locked out of all markets except Canberra, what do you think people are going to choose?

      • Explorer says:

        Sorry but no whole generation is locked out. That is hyperbole. I know many young adults in the process of buying property, and many of them have little parent help. Some might be living at home after qualifying for FHB grant so the rents now help with the mortgage.

        Many who are not able to buy yet will be OK when their parents pass on or downsize or otherwise help, eg when the kids marry, or have a couple of kids and the parents move into a unit.

        But yes there are a proportion, particularly those whose parents have never owned a home and are also lower income earners and have unstable employment prospects or records, who will never be able to buy a home. There are also those who would sooner rent for lifestyle now rather than buy in the burbs and commute. Or those who want to travel now and settle later who might miss out. Or those who don’t partner up and whose parents can’t/won’t help. But it was always the case. The line might be drawn higher now and there might be an increase in the number, but it isn’t a whole generation.

        Income distribution being skewwed further towards the rich is also a factor at the margin as they as investors crowd out the marginal FHB. internationalisation is also a factor, but it helps create employment as we “export” home units to non-residents, in many cases adding to the rental supply and keeping rents low compared to the immmediate cost of ownership with mortgage.

      • arescarti42 says:

        Good response.

      • squirell says:

        Explorer, of course its hyperbole to say everyone has been locked out. What has happened (and continuing to happen) is FHBs have been pushed down the ladder in terms of expectations and and manyhave been pushed off it comlpetely. Whereas a 3 years qualified lawyer or doctor might previously have been able to buy a well located stand alone house, now they might find they can only afford a studio apartment in the same location or if they are in a dual income household perhaps a town house. So whether you think they have a right to moan or not, the fact is their quality of life has deteriorated …. and what about a school teacher or nurse in a single income household with a wife and 2 kids? in Sydney there is NO CHANCE.

        What irks me is that affordability equations look bad but even then they dont tell the full story of a) we are getting less and less well located land for our buck and b)household incomes now includes another income.

        This is ALL avoidable and PRIMARILY the result of deliberate govt policy whose main concern has been to transfer wealth from unestablished to established (with REAs and bankk clipping the ticket along the way).

    • The Patrician says:

      Let me get this straight Explorer, you say lower housing costs will make Canberra less attractive and higher house prices prices will make it more attractive for people to move there?

      That’s novel.

      Have you got any evidence to support your theory?

  9. Freddy says:

    It could just be a simple case of knowing that the federal government is going axe many jobs as part of the next federal budget.

    • The Patrician says:

      How does reducing the amount of planned land releases help?

      • Freddy says:

        Many people move to Canberra to take up federal government jobs. Take those jobs away and people will move out of Canberra reducing the need land releases.

  10. ecostatsnerd says:

    But the ACT has a surplus of properties for sale, rental vacancies are up and real estate agents are struggling to sell properties. For at least the last 5 years the ACT has supplied more new dwellings than population growth has required. House prices and rents are quite high in Canberra mainly cos of very high incomes – highest of any capital city by some margin. The ACT government has recently opened up the Molonglo Valley and there is a significant new development about to start out west of Belconnen – massive! Gungahlin is oversupplied with land and vacant properties too so for the moment easing new developments is not a bad thing.

    • The Patrician says:

      Oversupplied you say?

      ..and yet the ACT still has some of the highest land/house prices in the country.

      • ecostatsnerd says:

        have a chat to local real estate agents who are struggling to sell new properties on the outskirts of canberra and/or inner city apartments and you’ll understand. Rents also fell for the first time in about 20 years in the Sep quarter of the ABS CPI here in the ACT. Yes our property prices are quite high but as a ratio of incomes are quite a bit lower than most other capitals. Our incomes are about 30% higher than Sydney!

      • The Patrician says:

        I agree that rental vacancies are up but Canberra SOM has been fairly constant for about the last 3 yrs and in fact fell in Dec 2013 to its lowest level in over 2 yrs.

        http://www.sqmresearch.com.au/graph_stock_on_market.php?region=act%3A%3ACanberra&type=c&t=1

        I’m not disputing your experience and I’m not on the ground there but WingNut has recently told stories of lots of Canberra sold signs in Dec consistent with the SQM data. My point is regardless of income levels, if the market was truly oversupplied we would see it in the SOM data and in significantly lower prices.
        That may come but it is not there yet. Some body is buying in Canberra . I would love to know who.

      • Lef-tee says:

        Supply was drastically ramped up here in Gladstone when the LNG boom took off. Now it has passed it’s peak and housing is difficult to sell, you would think prices would come down. New estates sprouted like mushrooms here. But no, prices have not come down by any really significant amount.

        Supply is an important factor in this but it isn’t the only one.

      • Andy! says:

        If the prices were lowered to meet the buyers there would be zero struggles to sell. What a luxury to be able to hold land indefinitely for nix…

      • drsmithy says:

        have a chat to local real estate agents who are struggling to sell new properties on the outskirts of canberra and/or inner city apartments and you’ll understand.

        Have they tried reducing their prices ?

        Average wage in Canberra is apparently $85k. The median will be lower, but let’s use the average anyway.

        What are my options for buying a house in Canberra under $250k ?

      • The Patrician says:

        Thanks Leftee

        http://www.sqmresearch.com.au/graph_stock_on_market.php?mode=p&postcode=4680&t=1

        Gladstone is interesting. Looks like supply started rapidly increasing about 3 yrs ago and peaked early last year and the available stock has steadily declined since. The question is I suppose, if prices have not reduced and SOM is falling, is the market truly oversupplied?

        In support of your obs, the Gladstone vac rate is going through the roof! 11%!

        http://www.sqmresearch.com.au/graph_vacancy.php?postcode=4680&t=1

        Exhibit “A” for NG jamming the price mechanism. Terry Ryder and his mates sitting on vacant, loss-making IP’s. The ATO better prepare for some big NG claims.
        Wow have a look at the rents! down 30% in 12mnths

      • Lef-tee says:

        @The Patrician.

        Stock on the market here has likely been falling because a significant amount of it is probably being withdrawn from sale due to a lack of interest. I can honestly tell you that I know a local mortgage broker here who has done this, unable to sell their own house – very distressing for someone who desires to climb the property ladder (move to inner Brisbane). A relative in conveyancing tells me that there was a bit of a rush leading up to Christmas as per usual but generally sales are very sluggish.

        My former boss retired and was forced to accpet over $100 000 less for his house than he could have gotten a year earlier.

        I’m sure that if prices came down stock would start moving more rapidly but so much Gladstone property was bought up by investors (75% of the market a while back) who are unwilling to realise a loss and can afford to wait however long it takes to sell for a decent return, being supported by tax policy as they are.

      • Lef-tee says:

        I imagine that would be part of the reason for Gladstone’s sky-high vacany rate. Of course, contractors have been leaving as the work has started drying up, but 11% is still damn high (most FIFO workers were housed in purpose-built camps). A significant amount of it likely represents houses being withdrawn from sale and put on the rental market. As long as the investor can find someone to rent it, they can claim NG and wait however long it takes for local prices to take off again – which may well not be until the next boom.

      • Lef-tee says:

        Naturally, none of this is helpful to locals who are not on big money. Plenty of houses available – but not for you unless you’re on the island or out on the mines. At least renting is getting more affordable.

        Makes me wonder what would happen if NG were suddenly removed – how many Bisbane and Sydney investors would be willing to continue weathering an ongoing loss on a house in some far-flung province that they couldn’t write off?

      • Bubbley says:

        But there will come a point where the losses on property start to eat into the investors personal income so badly they will desperately want to sell simply so they can have their life back.

        The question is – how long can they hold out?

        If you have an empty rental and the mortgage is being paid from your wages, that is going to hurt and in some cases, hurt a lot.

    • Gral says:

      Newsflash – rents going down is good news. Y’know, lower cost of living and all that.

  11. ecostatsnerd says:

    one can pick up house and land packages in Canberra starting at around $350K only 20-30 mins from the city – but people still aren’t buying. Canberra is very different in terms of our expectations from Syd!

    My gripe with Canberra planning is that you have 1/4 acre blocks next to the city that should be zoned for higher density housing/dual occ’s. People want to buy the properties in close to the action (and better schools) but these properties are very expensive! 1M plus for a decent home.

  12. PhilBest says:

    I had an interesting talk with a top executive of a major Regional Council a couple of years ago, who candidly admitted that allowing freedom of housing (and business) development in the abundant amounts of land closer to the city centre, would break down the “corridor” form that boosts commuter rail mode share. But the commuter rail system even so, is so expensive per person km traveled on it, that it is roughly level with the average for private cars…….!

    So instead of allowing people and businesses to choose more efficient locations in a freer market, possibly many of whom might walk to work, but certainly most of whom would enjoy a shorter (and hence cheaper) car drive, we heavily subsidise train rides for people priced out to exurbs and country towns 50 miles away…….! And this is the “end in itself”, not any measure of function or process, or objective inputs and outputs.

    It is not rocket science that increased interconnection and “amorphousness” would be a huge boost to agglomeration economies. Agglomeration is not synonymous with a single monopolistic spatial cluster and a radial tributary system.

    The US cities with low density, dispersed employment, and extremely affordable housing, actually do not lack for “housing choices” at all. Search RE sites for condos/attached townhouses in inner suburbs: they will be available for under $100,000. A large apartment in a tower right in the CBD will rent for $400 per week. This indicates that supply and demand are quite nicely balanced: if certain advocates were right about there being “demand” for this kind of living that “zoning” was preventing adequate supply of, the prices would not be this darn cheap, would they? Ironically, infill development and intensification around commuter rail stations in these cities tends to be quite affordable too, in contrast to the inflated-housing-cost cities where the planners start with a UGB and then hope the rest of their ideals will fall into place.

    Of course US cities tend to have only around 10% of regional employment in their CBD, but there is no disadvantage to this at all. This eliminates the focus of congestion. The nature of agglomeration economies these days means that centralisation is irrelevant and counter-productive for all but one sector of the urban economy. Peter Gordon and Harry Richardson have a brilliant academic book chapter on this (in “The Oxford Handbook of Urban Economics and Planning”, Eds. Brooks, Donaghy and Knaap), entitled “Urban Structure and Economic Growth”. It is a shame it is not online.

    Highly-paid experts in bureaucracies are meant to be up with the play with all this stuff – instead, they prove everything that Hayek and Von Mises and others said about the kind of people that end up running things when planners have too much power. The ideologues, the corrupt, and incompetents who are good at bullying their way to the top. Any good people will be run out of the bureaucracy early on in their career.

    • Pfh007 says:

      ‘Highly-paid experts in bureaucracies are meant to be up with the play with all this stuff …’

      Perhaps some do know but are locked out of the public debate by the draconian public service rules that are designed to ensure that public servants serve the political class and not the public.

    • Rusty Penny says:

      Only 5 cities in Australia have any meaningful rail.

      It doesn’t explain the inertia of decisions in places like Canberra, Newcastle and Darwin

  13. FHB says:

    So i wrote Mr Abbot today, wonder if i will get a reply this time.
    Basically asked him how i was supposed to buy a house in melbourne when i am on 21 dollars an hour.

    Looks like ill have to move to tasmania, i actually found a few cheap block for about 6k in the middle of the bush, and ill have to grow my own food and find a good water supply, seems a bit ancient but nothing humanity hasn’t faced before
    Thanks generation x

  14. scottmuz says:

    Yep, none of it makes sense.

    I grew up in Darwin, and like Canberra (and most of Australia’s smaller cities), it is a very dull place to live. Darwin and Canberra also have two of Australia’s least liveable climates.

    Darwin and Canberra need to compensate for that dullness and unpleasant climate with lower housing costs, but instead they are among Australia’s most expensive cities.

    Main reason why I’ll never live in either.