Is the Australia I once knew gone for good?

When I first started writing about the Australian property bubble in 2003 I knew it was big. But even I didn’t think it would reach its current absurd proportions. The bubble has now engulfed not just our economy but our politics, our media, our social structure and entire strategic outlook. Not one of these is defensible in terms of the national interest but together they converge on Australian disintegration:

  • The economy is now a hollowed out wasteland of finance, speculation and consumption. Other than dirt, we do nothing else.
  • Politics is now warped completely around the bubble with elections won and lost on house prices alone. Policy is forgotten.
  • The duopoly of Australian media is focused entirely on maximising for sale listings for Domain and It has become a bald-faced real estate propaganda machine.
  • Multi-culturalism is being increasingly strained as immigration is sustained at economically destructive levels purely to support house prices.
  • ANZUS is now fundamentally undermined by the “citizenship exports” sector that drives house prices and construction and brings with it a “hard-edged” Chinese soft power push.

The Australia that I grew up in was based upon the principle of the “fair go” balanced against a vibrant and mixed competitive market economy, of policy made in the national interest, of successful multi-culturalism within a liberal Anglosheric context, and of unshakable faith in the US as our strategic partner in the world.  Now, thanks to the bubble:

  • The “fair go” is dead.
  • The US alliance is dying.
  • Multi-culturalism is under assault.
  • Liberalism and the market economy have been subsumed by specufesting.

Australia has been engulfed by a bubble so complete that the place I once knew has asphyxiated inside of it. How much of this is cyclical and how much structural?

The fair go should survive the bubble when it busts. It is still apparent in electoral mythologies and our brilliant volunteerism. It is the central tenet of our culture so, even if buried for now, it should reassert itself when conditions change.

Multi-culturalism can’t die. It is a fact. But it might fragment and descend into more frequent violence. Australians are probably too lazy for an outcome like the social fracturing underway in Europe but I can foresee increasing levels of urban conflict such as that we saw in the Cronulla riots some years ago.

Liberalism and the market economy appear to be in structural decline. That is a global phenomenon as the globalisation dreams of yesteryear collapse into today’s Balkanised plutocracies. As the global depression marches on, and East steadily assumes power over West, further retreat is assured.

Which leads me to the last and perhaps biggest question of all. Will Australia’s withdrawal from ANZUS and the US hegemony also weaken our cultural and political affiliations with said nation? Is it a cyclical or structural retreat and what influence will it have over all of the other changes listed?

Who can say? If Australia continues down it’s current path and into the embrace of Chinese economic imperialism then why would it not also take on the trappings of our new Great and Powerful friend? Sub-altern nations tend to reflect the systems of their rulers. That appears to be what has happened to the Philippines, where an elected leader has damn near fortified a police state and turned himself directly into a Chinese mini-me.

Is it really so unimaginable that Australia, too, become nothing more than a politically vacuous Chinese sock puppet? Fast forward twenty years when Sydney and Melbourne are one third Asian populations and policy revolves heavily around their relationship with Beijing. When a Chinese blue water navy vies with the US at every juncture. When the Australian economy is so completely integrated with the Chinese on every front that resistance is futile. When the measures of economic success in every field are determined by Chinese fashion or patronage. When the last Australian prime minister declares himself in favour of the US in a struggle for naval rights over the Coral Sea but China imposes crippling economic sanctions, engineering regime change to the sympathetic and captured Opposition.

I’m not so sure that any of the Australia I once knew will survive our current path.

David Llewellyn-Smith
Latest posts by David Llewellyn-Smith (see all)


  1. Its a possible future that we are sleep walking towards.

    Interesting to see how the Chinese government and press view 2nd and 3rd generation Australians of Chinese decent as Chinese and cannot understand why they don’t stand beside the Motherland to defend China. More of this to come me thinks.

    • 2nd and 3rd gen chinese either left HK around the 1997 handover or else left as best they could in the 70´s and 80´s from the mainland. Neither group has much liking for Mao´s Princelings. In fact they have utter disdain for them and would gladly slam the door shut to pro-China nationalists. Ditto for Taiwan. So Xi´s smiles are wasted on these groups and risks having a tooth knocked-out.

      • I think Peter meant the 2nd and 3rd gen from the current crop of Chinese immigrants when they grow up. The short answer is they would be less susceptible to the Chinese propaganda, as they would have wide range of individualised views as a result of Australian education.

        The long answer is everything to do with Chinese education system. In Australia, first or second gen immigrant students (usually ABC or starting early high school in Aus) performs vastly different compared to Chinese foreign students. Western educated Chinese students (from a young age) are just a order of magnitude better in competence compared to Chinese foreign students.

        So much so it’s became a running joke Chinese foreign students’ fees are only there to prop up our higher education system. And the most common complaint is our degrees are dumbed down to cater for the overseas students.

        The most obvious example is debating. Chinese foreign students have extreme difficulty doing it. Their arguments without fail, breaks down to memorised slogans. Or god forbid they get assigned to the “wrong” side of the argument. Less obvious example is to see them tackling something with no set correct answer… They can’t seem to get their head around that fact.

        Finally, they are extremely risk adverse. They tend not to try and experiment and fail, which is an toxic habit for problem which have no set correct answer.

      • Any millenial will consider options and whether the western model is sufficient if it gets worse enough. Right now they can’t buy a house, jobs are the next part of the struggle and who knows what lies ahead. If this trend continues, expet no sympathy from the 2nd and third generation chinese who’s quality of life will approach that of the equivalent aged chinese. From that perspective it deosn’t matter if your overlords are capitalists, communists or lizards – you are still living in a dog box and spending your life paying for it. The difference is at least the Chinese are doing something about affordability in China. What is our government doing?

    • Australias great shame is how it has handled the Julian Assange debacle.
      And I know fear he is either dead or a prisoner in some American prison.

      • Yes it is a shame – Julian Assange is a Hero ! Kodiak is an idiot Yank who thinks he’s a home grown patriot -except he doesn’t know the meaning off the word. Clownfish!

      • AURules: “Kodiak is an idiot Yank”

        Right there… whenever anyone talks about the Australian cultueral inferiority complex, there’s the archetypal example. The shittier Australia gets, the angrier those with a chip on their shoulder get. And always at foreigners. Always.

    • Many of the strongest supporters of western enlightenment values are the immigrants who came BECAUSE of them. Our contemporary homage to “multiculturalism” misses the point. What we really should be supporting is multi-ethnicity and universal human values stemming from the enlightenment.

      I recall reading once that there was a regiment in the US army in WW2 made up of Japanese-Americans, that performed with distinction.

      • Too right Phil.

        Our western enlightenment values are right in the sights of the regime currently ruling mainland China. How do we know? Their stated government policy says so – check out Party Document Number Nine (anyone can Google it). See the words that come out of XJP’s mouth, hear what they say and see what they do with locking up their poets, disappearing their writers and detaining their defenders of human dignity in the face of mindless bullying powered by greed.

        Ignorance of the reality of what we are up against, and the foolish blindness induced by the “wow, look at this new airport, wow, look at this new highway, wow, look at this new hi-speed train” crowd, makes us unable to see the threat. Try to talk about this realistically and you end up sounding like and being accused of being some cold-war dinosaur Mccarthyite (like now).

        This is only going to get worse. The currently upcoming millennial generation in the PRC have intelligence, brightness and ambition only matched by their ignorance, chauvinism and utter cluelessness. A whole generation without even the faintest inkling of their own history over the last 67 years who can still get riled up about atrocities committed by Imperial Japan eighty years ago but have no knowledge of what happened in the middle of their own capital (and other cities) in June 1989, let alone the “mistakes” of the 1950s and 60s.

        Cue our own cohort of apologists and wait for the Party textbook diversions of wumao-style “whataboutism” detailing the disgraceful behaviours of the west in recent years as if that changes the facts of what is under discussion.

        Rant over. We have been warned.

      • The 442nd Regimental Combat Team. Composed of Americans of Japanese descent, it was the most decorated unit of its size in the history of American warfare.

        Gallant men. I’d be happy to welcome immigrants like that to Australia.

      • Chinajim,

        Looking at China through western eyes can cause confusion and you are right, the Marco Polo syndrome is strong amongst observers. Its leaders walk a fine line and it is if they fear the ordinary people rather than embrace and work for them, which might be the safe position. Over the past 30 years, the current leadership model has dragged what, 600 million people out of poverty? To the Mandarins in Beijing, its all about holding power through fear and favour. Singapore is only now emerging from under the ‘big man’ rule model and it may take a few more decades before China is ‘ready’.

      • Thanks for the responses; JasonMNan, ChinaJim, LSWCHP, Peter

        Nice to get that confirmed in detail about the Japanese-American regiment.

        Singapore’s strongman government was a lot more benign than the CCP, though, wasn’t it, Peter? Lee Kuan Yew has been the kind of leader a country is lucky to get rather than the alternatives with which history is littered. I constantly discover examples of his wisdom: for example, he set up the civil service so that bureaucrats would be employed only for a short contract tenure, and only after years of private-sector experience, and then put back out into the private sector. The constant rotation into the bureaucracy of fresh blood, full of common sense learned from experience already, has made for an amazingly lean, effective civil service. You only need to look at the status quo in bureaucracy in the rest of the world, to see the genius of this.

      • AuRules is a bigot. Full stop. The difference is that his bigotry is aimed at me instead of the people the PC police usually hiss at. If he actually said things to me in the street, I’d rip his fucking eyes out.

  2. “The Australia I once knew”. That phrase could have come out of the mouths of Pauline and her crew.

      • Actually it could come from any resident of any city in the world…the world is changing rapidly everywhere.

    • I would have thought that having spent my entire professional life fighting in favour of multi-culturalism and engagement with Asia that I’ve earned the right to question our sleep-walking into the embrace of the Chinese empire without being called a simplistic racist.

      Aside from anything else, the Chinese angle is only the latest policy shocker in a long line of bubble supports. That’s the my key point.

      • Weak Xenophobia argument. What has happened is the government and industrial property complex have broken the social contract by bribing the citizenry with “capital gains”. The slow realisation that the social contract of “a fair go” has been broken and is building into greater discontentment which will ignite at some point soon.

      • Very good argument was made once by a West Indian immigrant in the UK who was a UKIP supporter. He said the whole point of emigrating to Britain was “because of what Britain was”, and he did NOT want it to become something else because of “multiculturalism”.

        Multi-ethnic, fine. But the point of western enlightenment values is that they are held to be Universal. If someone wants them, they either fight for them in their own still-backward country, or they emigrate to the West to participate in what is already there. Multi-culturalism, on the other hand, is seeming more and more to be nothing more than a Trojan horse strategy against those western enlightenment values. The real racists are the western cultural white-anters who insist that “race” equals “exclusion from western enlightenment values”. Many immigrants would strongly disagree. I recall some lefty saying he “was ashamed to be Australian”, and a letter-writer with a Balkan-sounding surname, an immigrant in his lifetime, responded that “I too am ashamed that these people (on the left) are Australians”.

      • @Phil,

        It is not the lefties, but the righties that are the problem. They undermine equality and then scapegoat the minorities when people flag a problem. Never ceases to amaze me that people of the right continually vote against their own and their countries best interests in favour of vested interest groups.

      • I do wonder how someone can praise “enlightenment values” while carrying on about how everything wrong with the world is the fault of the “lefties”.

      • “Enlightenment values” came from classical liberals. Politically correct leftism is essentially white-anting of everything those classical liberal values brought us. I fail to see how “enlightenment values” can be held responsible for shutting down free speech, bestowing multi-culti rights on misogynist cultures, bestowing sacred status on superabundant natural resources, etc

      • “Enlightenment values” came from classical liberals.

        “Classical Liberalism” didn’t come along until nearly a century after the Enlightenment when “Classical Liberals” took Enlightenment values and corrupted them with selfishness, greed and “all rights, no responsibilities” individualism.

        The Age of Enlightenment culminated in the French Revolution, from which came the original “Left” – promoters of separation of Church and State, decentralised power structures (ie: not a Monarchy), evidence- and reason-driven decision making, tolerance of difference and the classic “Liberté, égalité, fraternité” motto – and “Right” – supporters of Church influencing the state, Monarchies and other authoritarian, hierarchical power structures, faith- and ideology-based decision making and a fundamental belief in a divided, class-driven, birth-is-destiny, society.

        These values still drive right-wing parties today. Which is why they are still letting religious beliefs and ideology dictate laws and policy. Which is why they are busily instituting swathes of authoritarian laws like locking people up without trial and monitoring communications without warrants, etc. Which is why they are so set on a powerful military. Which is why the structures and laws which seek to engender power to the common people and limit the heriditary power and influence of elites – Unionism, workers rights, voting rights, public education, public healthcare, welfare, taxation, democracy – are being slowly destroyed. Which is why they still think the best approach to unemployment is to punish people who can’t find work rather than give them work to do. Which is why they at best don’t care about wealth gaps and low social mobility and at worst seek to make them worse.

        Which is why they think fucking magic will fix the problems we have today if only we just stopped trying to fix them ourselves and let loose the greediest, most selfish and most psychopathic individuals without restraint.

        The political right have been running the world for over thirty years, Phil. It is absurd to try and blame the problems we have today on “the left”. The last time “the left” had serious widespread influence over public policy, flares were still cool.

        I fail to see how “enlightenment values” can be held responsible for shutting down free speech, bestowing multi-culti rights on misogynist cultures, bestowing sacred status on superabundant natural resources, etc

        Well, that’s by understanding that a man like Hitler can incite a lot of violence with just words, people should be judged on their own actions rather than those of others with the same fashion sense and, well, I have no idea what you’re talking about with that last one.

        I expect the person you mentioned earlier who was “embarassed to be Australian”, was probably referring to how we treat of Refugees, which is about as anti-Enlightenment as one could get.

    • As much as I try not to think it, every day I question Chinese interests in Australia. I question the path this country is on, as it creates such a large divide between the have and have not’s. The lack of empathy for the less fortunate, the fuck everyone else cause I got mine mantra. The fair go being smashed to shit and the lack of innovation due to a hostile environment for anyone who isn’t in the property game. That’s all it is really a game.

      The more I see rich Chinese families buying up existing houses in my neighborhood, sending their kids to the best schools in the area etc.. While my tax dollars go toward the boomers benefits (mostly). I find myself every day angry not so much at the Chinese but at our government that is allowing this to happen.

      At my parents generation that seems utterly oblivious to the social damage being done, I’m surprised there hasn’t been more of an uproar from young Australian’s yet. Perhaps they really don’t get it, are afraid of being branded racist for speaking up.

      Globalisation seems to have created an avenue for the super wealthy to hoarde all the best property, all the best schools and education opportunities and avoid paying taxes in any jurisdictions where they benefit. While the rest of us smucks go to work, pay our taxes and try do the honest thing.

      So yeah, as a young Australian right now I’m feeling pretty disenfranchised, yet I’m part of the lucky ones. A high wage earner, but an asset poor idiot who should have bought into the madness 5 years ago. Punished for being productive, and not speculative.

      • I am exactly your position and feel the same way. Maybe we should start a political party…..

        I tried that, I joined the Affordable Housing Party who didn’t get approved in time for the last election.

        I voted for the Sustainable Australia Party – Who sadly didn’t receive many votes last election. I believe Animal Justice Party received more votes.. and I’m all for Animal rights and all that, but it just shows what a frog most Aussies are in boiling water.

        I also voted Labor for their negative gearing reform policy…

        I don’t want to give up, but I actually think it would be great if there was a social committee of MB folks who met up in local pubs or bars around the country and got together to discuss ways to fix our situation and maybe even start a political group or party…

        I’ve also though of grass roots ideas like going around and filming empty Australian homes owned by Chinese investors or documenting the apartment building and empty apartments at night (where the only lights on are hallways lights and the rest vacant) or even interviewing people who have had a shit time from landlords etc.. Just to start a Youtube channel to give a voice to these issues and get people behind it. I’m even considering becoming a politician just to see change myself. But I fear I’ll just become part of a broken system.

      • I’ve also though of grass roots ideas like going around and filming empty Australian homes owned by Chinese investors or documenting the apartment building and empty apartments at night (where the only lights on are hallways lights and the rest vacant) or even interviewing people who have had a shit time from landlords etc..

        Hey gavin I actually have been thinking about filming the apartments for a while. Since I had to drop my car off at Canterbury BMW (calm down everyone it’s a 2002 330i) and had to walk to the station. I was marveling at the development but not in a good way.

        Just have to get off my fat arse and do it, I guess.

      • i’ve thought about doing you tubes of the crappiness of construction and abode nowadays, the garage doors you can hardly fit through, the garages where you perform yoga to get out of your car, the unlevel ceilings and floors, the noise filtering in, the lack of sunlight, the placement of high density next to highways, the lack of insulation because of that beat up about batts, the single glazing, the bedrooms you can’t move in, the low oppressive ceilings… why? why? all this and you pay a fortune to live in them while the developers live in secluded mansions.

      • When I left work a few days ago at 9:00 PM on a Friday, I noticed that there wasn’t a single light on in the 50 apartment development next to work that had been completed almost a year ago. I have my doubts that political action will achieve anything because people largely accept the new normal.

        I’d happily go to a MB meetup though, what city are you in?

    • I think you’re looking at this the wrong way around.

      Firstly, let’s ironically laugh at the fact that Pauline said 20 years ago “we’re being overrun by Asians” and now, in a sense, we have been (or risk it).
      Secondly, I’ve met people who are not stupid who voted for Pauline because, even though her underlying politics is too ignorant to just
      accept, she’s the only one who articulates anything even anywhere near the ballpark of what’s in this article.

      The Hanson comparison is not far fetched because, as with far right parties in Europe, people turn to them out of frustration.

      One of the biggest mistakes made by proponents of multiculturalism is talking about how boring Australia was before they came
      along. Unssurprisingly that generates a bit of a “fuck you” response from some.

  3. Terror Australis

    I think you need a Xmas vacation, chief.
    The tenor of your posts is becoming not quite tin-foil hat territority, but definately fashioned from kitchen material.

  4. Doubling housing supply will do nothing but double specufestors.

    Doesn’t that idiot Morrison get it in his thick skull that shit always expands to fill the space?

    I’m voting Pauline Hanson forever after, because most things the Lib pricks do is 180deg wrong.

    For your viewing pleasure: Vancouver VS Sydney Housing Crisis !! MUST WATCH:

    • Of course he gets it, that’s why he’s doing it. To appear to be fixing the problem, while actually just creating a bigger 1. All his plan will do is cause a sudden rush to acquire large swathes of land, land banking 101. So it can be sold to the highest bidder to build as many town houses as possible for as much money as possible.

      In a booming market higher prices, just makes people want to buy more… It’s the opposite of a normal market where higher prices mean less demand. If more supply was needed, then why haven’t prices come down yet? When we just keep building more and more and more and yet prices keep going up.

    • That does not explain historical episodes in Australia and the rest of the west, where population growth was even faster, and house price median multiples remained down around 3. It does not explain several dozen US cities with median multiples that have remained anchored down around 3, including some of the fastest-growing cities in the entire first world, such as Atlanta, Houston, Austin, Raleigh and Charlotte.

      It makes a massive difference whether you run a racket in land supply or not. Urban planning prior to the 1990’s meant co-operating with developers who were responding to market demand and competing with each other, making honest and modest margins in housing built in scale-economy volumes on land that had been secured at prices with not much premium over rural values. It still does work this way in the US median multiple 3 cities. New fringe McMansions selling for $200,000 each generally means the developer paid <$40,000 per acre for the land underneath. When developers can be gouged for $4,000,000 per acre, you have a racket being enabled by something.

  5. Yes. I agree, H&H.

    It is wonderful that you are working to expose Australia’s highly destructive immigration program and its detrimental effects. .

  6. Was talking to a guy from Vancouver the other day. He said when looking for a school for his kids in the area that 90% of the students starting school in the metro area are ESL (English as second language). Most primary schools were only running remediation English classes.

  7. Great animated video explaining why poor nations are poor:

    The cricketer turned politician Mr Imran Khan agrees “the 3rd world is the 3rd world due to corruption”.

    And it is infuriating to see AUS becoming more and more corrupt and less and less of a meritocracy.

    Dumbed down degrees anyone? Under Howard it was hard to get a degree and now AUS gives degrees to exam cheats and plagiarizers.

    Clearly the ALP and LNP are big fans of feudalism and corruption.

    • Lots to think about in HnH’s post so just an initial thought….
      I’ve travelled a bit in my time and have been in places where peoples of many nations interact with each other. Watching how people interact has been quite fascinating and something of a hobby. It struck me quite some time ago that the success of nations was very much connected to the way people cooperated with each other at a very basic level. I concluded, rightly or wrongly, that this factor then extended up through their political and military systems. Indeed there are historical examples of this. I watched as people from nations that were basically basket cases acted totally selfishly while people from nations that were better organised with better systems seems to automatically cooperate, indeed showed better manners, to achieve a better outcome for everybody present. I guess for many these were trivial observations like how people got on and off crowded trains, in an out of lifts, how they behaved at busy taxi stands. Now it must be said that the reasoning could flow in reverse i.e. Nations that are more successful result in less of a ‘dog eat dog’ environment on the street but, to me, that really doesn’t make sense….Just my take!
      I thought the New Orleans floods a few years back were somewhat instructive in this regard as to the progress of western society. In the communities who got isolated and stressed civilisation broke down to a large degree and cooperation did not seem to exist. In earlier times I’m sure people would have quickly got together and organised ‘teams’ to undertake various functions for the good of the community – some to find food; some to cook and maintain an ‘eating area’ as best they could; toilet areas etc – maybe even appoint a ‘policeman’ or two. Such was the old British way if I can be so bold. I thought the breakdown of civilisation under such mild stress was instructive as to where the USA had gone as a society – at least in many places.
      If HnH is correct we have followed, or are following, down the same road. As a bloke pushing up towards 70 I perceive this as happening over a long period and it is impossible to return to where we came from. There is no will. A time will come when people seek a saviour – someone who promises a return of all these values – flawse for dictator!!! I seem to jest but the path now, to me, looks inevitable. You can see it already as we swing from Prime Minister to Prime Minister thinking that each one will be so perfect and ‘fix’ everything. It’s been a ‘fix’ that’s for sure!
      I do take exception to the singling out of Chinese in these pages. Of all the races who come here the Chinese have, historically, adopted our culture and certainly our language. My long association with Chinese people suggests to me that this will not change. I find them all very similar to us in their goals and outlook. They don’t come here wanting to change our laws. They don’t come here wanting to rule.
      The anti-Chinese sentiment so prevalent in these pages has only grown as Chinese people have bought houses in Sydney and Melbourne. Now we CHOSE this!!! We have chosen to run a Current Account Deficit that HAS to be financed. We have chosen negative RAT interest rates and the Hawke/Keating Wild West financial system. All this so we could consume!!! We ALL, with few exceptions, chose over-consumption self-entitled lifestyle to which we have become accustomed. There was always going to be a price for this and that was we were going to have to sell off our country, and in the end our homes, to finance this. There is great blame levelled at Boomers in these pages as if it is all the fault of one generation. Sure the Boomers, and i’m one, are very often selfish a…holes! However the RE ponzi has been very much expanded on by following generations and people in their forties odd seem, in my own personal experience (and that can be biased obviously) are the ones who own more houses. Yes it was a trend established by Boomers in the first place but…..,
      Then everyone, including the young, want all the trinkets. We have to have new cars with air-conditioning and Blue tooth and every other thing in them. We all want our Iphones! Ipods! Ipads! Tatbloodytoos! Coffee – good ole Nescafe or equivalent is just not on! Beer isn’t good enough anymore! Everyone wants to work in some nice airconditioned office and not get too dirty in a day! Well we do pay such people more than a job where you get dirty. That’s the way we’ve orgsanised our society.
      Enough stupid rant from a dozey ole bastard!
      The point is we ALL are choosing this. Everyone wants to live in the city with all its amenities and we screw any part of the country that is productive. If we read Macrobusiness there is so much stuff about printing money to build infrastructure for cities so that cities are more liveable. MSM is all about ‘world cities’. All this without a thought as to where the money comes from. Nobody wants ‘saving’ and in that regard we are totally totally screwed. We are so oriented towards over consumption for so long that the distortions are basically irreparable. This is especially so, since as HnH points out here, we are losing (IMO have lost) the structure that holds us together. It’s all about ‘me’!

      • Thank you Mr Flawse. You might be an old barstard, but you are a wise one.
        PS. Real men drink International Roast out of 2kg tins. None of your fancy Nescafe

      • Thanks Auld Kodjer – yeah! Got to admit I’m a bit of a coffee snob! I can’t handle the modern version of International Roast! 🙂
        P.S. We do have it out of the 2 KG tins!

      • flawse that might as well be post of the year as far as I’m concerned. Agreed 100%.

        This isn’t about the US, China or anyone else. This is ALL about us.

        I personally have much optimism that Australia can become productive, but we have to get off our backsides and build some infrastructure to do it. Simply complaining “we’re full” is not only laughably wrong, it’s also a symptom of the lazy thinking that got us here in the first place.

      • Flawse, you forgot the smashed avocado.

        Seriously, some very good points and interesting observations.

        Regarding the apparent break-down of civil society in to a dog-eat-dog world – isn’t this straight from the neo-liberal textbook that seems to have been handed down from God on gold tablets during the late 70s-80s? It was Thatcher, after all, who said society
        does not exist. There are some who would put up some twisted argument that the breakdowns in New Orleans post Katrina were because the free-market hadn’t been allowed to reign, or some such BS.

        Regarding ethnicities and nationalities: let’s not get confused between “Chinese people” and the regime that currently runs mainland China. The concern is about the threats that the latter may represent to western values, not with individuals who happen to have moved here. It’s a values thing I suppose, and using words which describe nationalities and ethnicities has become a lazy shorthand for that.

        It is an emotive issue in which nuance is often an early casualty.

      • People are co-operating less because for thirty-odd years they’ve been told every man for himself is how the world should work. Thatcher and Reagan really got the ball rolling in the west but it was Howard here in Oz who picked it up and gave it a hell of a punt.

        As those people have gained more and more influence – the Liberal Party is pretty much completely overtaken by them, and Labor is not far behind – anyone trying to promote co-operation, compromise or moderate middle ground is increasingly pilloried, ridiculed and ostracised.

      • Hi Jim thank you especially for the wise words re nuance etc. Re Western values unfortunately i am in the position of being already depressed on this subject. There will be many here who will exercise their own certainty of their position to criticise what i would write. We have already set up the machinery to wipe out real free speech. Boundaries are being set by Govt bodies and by people who will just use force of voice and aggression. These boundaries are restrictive and will get more so. Perhaps already more is lost than most of us have, as yet, realised and are likely to realise.
        Anyway FWIW!

      • “I thought the New Orleans floods a few years back were somewhat instructive in this regard as to the progress of western society. ……I thought the breakdown of civilisation under such mild stress was instructive as to where the USA had gone as a society – at least in many places.”

        Yeah, I think a lot of that is down to other unmentionable factors. Pretty much the same as ‘out of control gun crime’.

        Put it this way, it didn’t happen in the 2015 Utah floods for example, in fact Utah would be viewed the the noble volunteerism of say the Victorian bush fires of a few years ago.

        If you exclude the gun crime in less than a dozen cities in the USA. where the crime is mainly conducted by these unmentionables, the issue of guns in the USA paints a different picture, safer than most other OECD countries.

      • Dr Smithy
        Perhaps you do it for brevity but I think you are being a bit simplistic and I think, as a result, probably not getting to the right target.
        I’m not judging your comment re Thatcher and Reagan. Things are what they are and I personally think that one can act for the best while trying to look after one’s own interests. Further short term and long term goals and methods are quite different – probably as you surmise we are all a biot too short term.
        However I think you miss a key point of all our selfishness – and that is the advent of television and the heavy advertising that goes with it. I see average UK TV watching per week is 24 hours. Not sure why Aus is less but ABS reckoned 13 – seems like a gross understatement to me. Then add in about the same time on the computer (for entertainment)

        This is one hell of a lot of constant brainwashing resulting in some monstrously distorted image of ourselves and what we are entitled to. People are having their minfds worked over in ways they cannot even begin to understand. It’s my personal belief our problems centre more in this than in an abstract political idea.

      • rob barrattMEMBER

        Well Flawse, Auld Kodjer
        International Roast?!!!! When they dig you guys up in 1000 years the bodies will be totally uncorrupted. Nothing down there will want to know. Cunning plan. ..
        I’ve already been corrupted by the Avanti Stovetop Expresso Maker, starring freshly ground beans – yes – beans. . A huge explosion in the kitchen tells you it was ready to serve..

      • bolstroodMEMBER

        Flawse, I am of your generation, I too, see the disintergration of the Australia of my youth, After WW2 people fought, and I mean fought, for their rights. Who among MB readers have ever heard of The New Guard, the military group of Fascist who tried to control the working classes of Australia by force?
        Evil triumphs when good men and women do nothing. All around us we see our society being torn down by those we elected to preserve and nurture it, and yet where is the outcry, the outrage ?
        Today everyone seems to be to busy payng off debt , and because of it too afraid to set up on their hind legs and set up a Squawk.

      • adelaide_economistMEMBER

        Yes – a lot of what makes societies successful (or otherwise) boils down to trust… and many of the factors that contribute to that trust have been placed under enormous stress by a variety of (deliberate) economic and social changes being pushed by the two wings of our neo-liberal ‘mainstream’ parties.

        Trust is also a ‘non-market’ thing and therefore very convenient to leave out of the ‘market models’ beloved of those who quote anyone from Adam Smith through to Thatcher. Beneficiaries of that ‘trust’ include all of us still but it’s fading rapidly. Most of us, for example, still don’t have bars on our windows, we’re still (for now) OK with money in the bank and we don’t expect the police, customs or motor vehicle reg officers to expect a $50 slipped to them in every interaction.

        Undermining the cultural attributes that enable the ‘market’ to work seems neither here nor there even at the same time as we hear constantly about ‘jobs and growth’. When contracts mean nothing and you have to assume every person you meet is scamming you it’s pretty hard to get sustainable economic growth.

      • This is one hell of a lot of constant brainwashing resulting in some monstrously distorted image of ourselves and what we are entitled to. People are having their minfds worked over in ways they cannot even begin to understand. It’s my personal belief our problems centre more in this than in an abstract political idea.<

        I suggest watching "The Century of Self", if you haven't already.

        The "political idea" isn't abstract. It's what's been driving most of the stuff you complain about: greed, selfishness, hyper-individualism – or just “me want, fuck you” as I usually summarise it – and paranoia about those who disagree.

      • rob barrattMEMBER

        Despite all the above, I have to say that when Brisbane flooded what happened was quite extraordinary. I ended up as part of a team trying to clear the mud out of a car repair place in Albion. What I couldn’t get over was that, every 5 minutes, a team of people rocked up with tea, coffee, sandwiches etc. etc. Quite moving really. The garage owners offered everyone a free car service. They were turned down flat of course.
        One can only wonder what would have happened in London , Paris or Berlin…

  8. I just gave an ex student in Beijing a discount on a lesson today for job interview practice. She mentioned migration to Australia and said that everyone she knew in Beijing knew about 2-3 people who had migrated to Australia this century. She then mentioned what several other Chinese have told me over the past 5-6 years; she could never culturally change, she could only ever be Chinese. She said this is why she stayed in China despite the poor environment and sundry other issues facing the country (my understanding is that a significant potion of the Chinese middle class and rich have at least thought about migrating at some point in their lives – just ponder all the implications of that for a moment if you will, not only the most obvious ones). Other Chinese who mentioned their inability to change/alter their culture to me (and they bought the topic up in the context of a conversation about Chinese outward migration to the west, not me), said that they could not fathom being able to change culture, it was an alien, incomprehensible concept to them. It was impossible. Obviously I’m talking to people who haven’t migrated so they may find themselves surprised by their cultural flexibility after they actually migrated, but it is an interesting thing to hear come out of the mouths of people who have considered migrating and are keeping the option on the table as a possibility in future. With me being in Beijing I don’t know how the current first generation of Chinese migrants are traveling along the road of migration and being a migrant, and how easily or not their assimilation into current Australian society is going. We all know migration is not an easy process and it takes generations to complete. As an Aussie whose family migration experienced ended about 180 years ago I have nothing recent to draw on, I only can try to understand the process of migration from being a high school exchange student in Finland for a year with a German host father married to a Finnish lady and nearly 17 years in China where I can’t migrate despite my long years in the PRC (yes I apply for a work visa every year, and probably stupidly stress over it each year too, though it is getting harder and harder to get them each year but that’s another story in China’s development trajectory, and to be expected).

    The impression I get from extensive discussions with the educated Chinese middle class in Beijing who consider the possibility of migration is that most are relatively clueless about what migration really entails such as the emotionally brutal aspects of the process, what it is like to genuinely realise your child is not the same culturally as you etc. They have limited or almost non-existent understanding how the migrant societies are structured or work (NZ/Canada/Australia) or the social compact surrounding migration in those countries. When the last mass migration wave occurred after WW2 this was understandable but in the age of the internet I find this dumb, especially as Chinese migrants are leaving a country that is on an astonishing and unprecedented upward trajectory in living standards, wealth and power and the middle class and the rich have been the undisputed beneficiaries of this development arc. As far as I am aware, 21st century Chinese migration to Australia is mainly not by poor Chinese but by the middle class and the rich (I could be wrong here, but from what Chinese in Beijing tell me, this is who migrates). I have a feeling that this wave of Chinese migration to Australia is possibly quite different to the previous waves of ethnic Chinese migration from China and other parts of Asia which were very successful i.e they integrated into Australian society well. It is of course too early to tell how this 21st century wave of mainland Chinese (including people from the north of China for the first time-this is significant) migration will fare, but I hope it will work out. Many Chinese I speak to here tell me they genuinely like and admire Australia and Australian people. Apparently we treat them well when they are tourists, we are friendly and kind. There is much goodwill over here towards Australia and when I explain the current problems facing Australia after initial disbelief there is real sympathy and expressions of ‘oh, many of our problems are the same!’

    The above may or may not be on topic, but this is what I know. I will however say, that if you have the number migrants from one country, such as China, above a certain threshold, then it is easier for them to cling to their cultural and linguistic group (which is a totally natural behavior when in a new/foreign environment, foreigners do that in China all the time) and this will slow down/retard the integration process. I would say this is a risk with Chinese migration, especially regarding Chinese cultural tendencies. The other thing I think many Chinese do not fully realise before migrating (if they think of it all) is that the Australian government is not the American government, Australia is not America, and that ‘some’ influence might reach further and for a longer period of time than they thought possible.

    • Popcod .. The current wave of migrants is also largely a victim of the property ponzi, and may rethink the decision when the inevitable correction destroys their economic plans and aspirations.

      Migrants have generally in my experience been prepared to suffer if their children may benefit from opportunities in a new country. This perceived opportunity may also be fleeting.

      In conclusion …. many may return home while females will integrate and males much less so.

      • Based on what I see and hear over here, I expect that if things do not turn out as expected in Australia that a significant proportion of recent Chinese migrants will return, if they are able to. Who knows what that proportion will be though. In fact I have already heard of several doing so. I think we have to accept that the nature of migration has also changed, it is less permanent and more fluid than before.

    • Appreciate your insight, as someone who moved to Ireland about 8 years ago. I can somewhat related to the experience of being a migrant. Even though my father was Irish, I was not really that well prepared for Irish culture or what to expect from it. When I arrived I definitely felt the odd 1 out although I could relate to the Irish in many ways, mostly because of their heavy drinking culture. (Although I’m not much of a drinker these days).

      It was strange to return to Australia after 6 years away and feel a sort of reverse culture shock. I didn’t feel that I knew Australia well at all upon my return and could more related to being Irish and what that meant in the context of being an EU citizen.

      If I had to move to somewhere where English was not my first language I’d find it much more difficult and challenging. Although I’m sure eventually I’d thrive. At first it would be a real shock.

      • After a decade away I found it bizarre coming back to Australia, week nights people rush home and lock themselves in their houses, at pubs people don’t really mingle but rather play the pokies or gamble on horses, company bosses are mini Stalin’s thinking no one but them does any work or deserves anything above the minimum… Etc etc

      • Gavin I’ve got some bad news, as someone who has spent most of my adult life outside of Australia (USA and Asia mostly).

        In a previous life I was well briefed about the problems and phases of culture-shock on moving to a new country and how you eventually get through it. What people don’t discuss much is the reverse culture shock you feel on coming back to your homeland. That is, more-or-less, incurable. Living away changes you forever.

        It’s all been a fantastic experience, and not over yet as I’m still mostly outside the country, but it causes permanent changes that are difficult to even talk about with someone who hasn’t shared the same experience.

      • It’s all been a fantastic experience, and not over yet as I’m still mostly outside the country, but it causes permanent changes that are difficult to even talk about with someone who hasn’t shared the same experience.

        Totally agree, very difficult to discuss with anyone who has been living inside the “bubble” for a long time. An Island full of delusional folks. 🙂

      • I can appreciate your experiences. I’ll be coming back after almost 20 years away. I’m preparing myself for the culture shock, but hopefully I’ll be ok as I’ve been through it twice properly and a sideways version a few other times when I returned to China after a time away so I have a fairly good idea of what to expect, and how difficult it will be.

        Áfter so long in China I’m definitely a bit of an egg these days (western/white on the outside but partly yellow/asian on the inside), so it is going to be an interesting experience. Especially as even though my family has been in Oz for a long time, one reason why I left was that I felt like I didn’t fit into mainstream Anglo/Saxon/Celtic Australian culture. The whole process of migration is fascinating, as is how a country successfully (or not) merges so many people from disparate backgrounds, cultures and regions of the world.

  9. I agree. I find this post challenging and concerning as I am an egalitarian and open to multiculturalism. But the Australian Aircraft Carrier for the USA may be lost as you’ve pointed out above. The reality is that Australia as we knew it is long gone and we’re but a political cork on a bigger geo-political ocean. Australia had some say before this change I feel it will have none if direction stays the same by the end of the decade. You’ve called the change. Most will ‘irk’ at the narrative, but you have to read the cultural change not just the economic. Thank you for sharing.

    • “Stupidity has a certain charm – ignorance does not.” Zappa would have been scathing about the wilful ignorance in Australia.

    • ErmingtonPlumbingMEMBER

      Self Censorship Janet? Or MB Agenda setting.

      I read your coment and thought it a poignant and accurate observation you made.

      • Kind of the former! I just thought “Who am I to comment on this when I don’t even live there!”.

      • You may not live here Janet, but you have eyes, intellect & an incisiveness that are better than average. Sometimes arms length observations have a clarity that can’t be seen from the dust kicked up within.

  10. ErmingtonPlumbingMEMBER

    Wow, driving into the city @ 5.40am, I “Channel surf” on to Sydneys triple M (FM Radio station for Tradies, footyheads and bogans) and there is Sell out, China appoligist Bob Carr, telling the audience we all have nothing to fear from Chinese investment and that a Trump 2.0 (someone trump like), in 2020 is a far greater concern for Australians to hold.

    What a Stooge!

    And why does the Chinese propaganda machine, even give a fuck about influencing the opinions of triple M ignoramus’s?

  11. We should not be too concerned about losing some mythical Australia as a result of immigration.

    Much of what some of us remember through rose coloured glasses would have vanished without any immigration as living cultures and langages are constantly changing.

    Plus any attempt to pickle and preserve culture is rarely much more than old farts telling kids to turn that awful music down and to speak properly.

    Whether immigrants like it or not their kids and especially their grand kids will assimilate to whatever Aussie kids are doing when they grow up. Some might learn grannies home language but most will not as most of their friends only speak Australian draaawl packed full of dipthongs.

    So what IS a problem?

    The future eating on an industrial scale represented by the unsustainable explosion of

    1. household (and soon once again public debt) and foreign debt

    2. the exploitation of our mineral wealth and built capital stock – i.e. flogging off assets from top to bottom

    When a ‘lifestyle’ is no longer funded with productive effort but instead clocking up debt, claims on future income and asset sales it develops a rotten debauched flavour. People become detached from cause and effect and once they lose that fundamental connection between their choices and their way of life they start to vanish up their back passages never to be seen again.

    If you are serious about fixing the country you need to be serious about weaning the nation off selling IOUs and assets – natural and built – to foreigners.

    We are running the country like a massive branch of Cash Converters and encouraged to do so by the Liberal Party enmasse, the sell-outs in the National Party, the rotting apparatchik tumour in the ALP and the plastic plants who have infested the Greens.

    It is time for some more fibre in the diet and less pre-masticated soft mash from a fed lot.

    • Thats how I see it. Immigration is a symptom of a greater malaise.

      We are a nation which has lost the ability to be true to its own better interests and expectations. Instead we get ‘told’ what our own better interests and expectations are, and sneered at when we cant meet our expectations.

      A tad old now, but one which runs over many of the other symptoms…..

      Bullshit, the electorate, and the Age of ‘cynical abuse of trust’

      • Really?, I picked up a copy of that second hand but haven’t got around to reading it. Your comments just bumped it up near the top of the list for commute reading Though I could never get to the end of Oscar and Lucinda.

      • I couldn’t finish Oscar and Lucinda or Olivier and the parrot thingy either but Illywhacker is one of a kind

      • I recently read Amnesia and that was good fun. Involved a river at the end but no glass church that I was praying would hurry and sink!

    • Great post Pfh and on Glass Pyramid. Distilling the big picture to its essence and into practical application is no mean feat. Thanks.
      Also recommend Illywacker. Haven’t read it for decades, maybe 25 years or so. Love the opening lines. From memory (this was one of those books that got me): ” my name is Herbert Badgery. I am 139 years old and something of a liar”. How can one not be entranced by that?!

  12. Australia is absolutely spit-roasted for the reasons given here. And it ain’t coming back.

  13. reusachtigeMEMBER

    Hey, don’t whinge about it like a loser, go profit from it like a winner! There’s so much money to be made and most of it is by taking it from those not good looking enough to play the game. You gotta be in it to win it!!

    • bolstroodMEMBER

      Spot on reus.
      there is money to be made , why we have the most expensive R/E in the world.
      an American house block ready to build costs US 40K, an Aussie one AUS$ 240,000
      Electricity fixed charges are 10 times more than any other developed country.
      Food is twice the price of US ,UK or Europe
      The Beautiful people in Australia are milking the local herd for all they are worth.

      • primarily the older established Australians are milking the young folks for all they are worth…. squeezing every last dollar!
        its a war on youth!

        * its the Taxi plate holders lobbying state governments to pilfer $2 from the pocket of every young Uber user each time they travel
        * its the rent for your shitty share house that you’re now paying $300 per week just for a bedroom, lining the pockets of your parents’ mates!
        * its the changes to Superannuation concessional contributions that mean that you’ll now work for a lifetime and be able to tip in a shit load less $ into your Super tax-free than the Boomers were able to…. Boomers are mostly done with that perk aren’t they!
        * its the changes this week to paid parental leave to pay young mum’s $12,000 less….cos the Boomers are done with this perk too now, right?
        * its the changes to higher education which leave young people even more indebted before they start their working lives…Boomers are all done with going to Uni, right?
        * Its the higher tax-free threshold that old folks enjoy in the years leading up to retirement age, which means they pay less tax than young Aussies who might earn exactly the same income in a year….
        * Its the Elephant in the room that is the aged pension – a pension that an old couple, who might own a house worth $5Million, can still be eligible to receive….. a pension that is no longer a safety net but something that old folk pay advisors to ensure they are eligible to receive….a pension that is a sacred cow, that costs future generations $60 Billion per annum….

        its all a war on youth….fark!

    • H&H, you should be more positive. Life is not that bad and stop obsessing with house prices as prices will go where they have to go (as they always have). I.e. down, up or side ways. Just accept that this is how it is now and there’s nothing that you can do about it. Prices may fall when it’s time to fall, but it could be many many years when it does that and you can’t sit around and wait for ever. Take the GFC, when it hit, people said prices would crash and I remember seeing a lot of “experts” saying that prices will be flat for at least a decade and look what happened since then!!! If you buy a house to live in and you can afford the current repayments, just buy and it don’t worry so much about it. After 10, 20, 30 years, it will have gone up so much that you just don’t worry about it. Even if it just go up in nominal terms, who cares. So stop complaining because we are so lucky in many respects here in Australia in comparison with other nations (US, UK, Europe, Africa, South America, Asia, etc).

  14. H&H: I was also an early worrier about the trend to unaffordability in housing, and to an unprecedented gouge in urban land rent (at least in modern history). I too cannot believe what has happened. I feel like I have been living through an episode of The Invasion of the Body-Snatchers. I thought the PM’s Task Force Report on Housing Affordability (2003- Chris Joye et al) was the last word on the subject and reform would happen pretty promptly.

    Moran (2006) was good too, but if anything, there has been a drop-off in clarity in investigative reports as time has gone on. Of course Patrick Troy (1998) “The Perils of Urban Consolidation”, earns him the status of “prophet” – unheeded still.

    If I write an economics history book one day, this episode in Australian history will deserve a title something like “the great rentier-capitalism coup”.

    • Sweeper,

      Keating may have introduced changes that started the process (and may agree with what happened) but the award for turning the potential for disaster into a complete disaster goes to Howard, Costello, Rudd, Gillard, Swan, Abbott, Hockey, Turnbull and now do nothing Morrison.

      Don’t give credit to Keating when others did the heavy lifting!

      • Actually the process was already well underway by the time Keating happened along. Maybe we were already past the stage where there were realistic choices. Keating’s ‘reforms’ were necessary possibly because real reform was no longer possible – politically, socially and economically. Our choice was to bite a bullet that was already too hard or expand the ponzi facitilty. Keating expanded the ponzi facltily which allowed the future explosions. There was no going back! Howard/Costello/Rudd/Henry et al just built on the structure.

      • Keating took us down the neoliberal rathole. Everything post was inevitable (as Flawse said).

      • Nothing is inevitable and even if you reckon Keating (or someone before Keating) got the ball rolling each of those who followed could have reversed course or slowed progress.

        There is nothing difficult about explaining the reasons for doing so and restricting the sale of assets or IOUs to foreigners and by doing so restrict the inflow of unproductive capital that inflates our exchange rate above what our trade performance warrants.

        Restricting the drivers of an inflated exchange rate will take care of the rest.

        And if you are worried about the adjustment process giving soft hands heart failure – do it slowly over 10 years. APRA can direct the banks to wind down their borrowing offshore to support for their mortgage operations and bang there is multiple hundreds of billions worth of unproductive capital flows being wound down to zero. Take a similar approach to government securities which should rarely be available for sale to foreigners anyway. After those two a harder line by the FIRB will take care of the rest.

        We are simply not having the debate and mainly because few understand the linkages by which individuals lifestyles are being indulged/supported by macro-economic policies.

        The answers are right in front of us.

      • Nixon decided to abandon Bretton Woods to tackle inflation after the Vietnam War, and global manufacturing shifted to Asia. Australia following the trend is inevitable since the political cost of double digit inflation is untenable. As a nation, we prefer to borrow for consumption rather than spend less, and to keep the debt ponzi machine running we must have ‘fresh meat’, thus the high immigration.
        Thinking back at the time Keating made the decision, it was the only solution, and he DID had the gut to ramp interest rate up when SHTF. The new generation of political leaders won’t do this anymore because frankly, I doubt any of the recent batch care about Australia at all.
        It is somewhat unfair to pass judgement on politicians after the fact. You have to be there to understand why they acted the way he did.

      • Ronin,

        Nixon abandoned Bretton Woods because the US could not honour its pledge to maintain a link between the $US and gold.

        He was not abandoning the link to tackle inflation. It was abandoned because they were already inflating the $US like crazy and the French (de Gaulle) threatened to expose them.

        The old guns AND butter problem – paying for a massive foreign war while expanding the role of government at the same time was the problem. Too much public money creation firing up the economy which then induced a rush of privately created public money by the banking sector. The great pro-cyclical money creation pile-on that we used to see all the time before the public sector was put on balanced budget austerity watch and the private banks given a virtual monopoly on money creation – if the public sector runs a balanced budget the private banks have to be good citizens and create the extra money that an expanding economy requires (how very kind of them!).

        The issue is not that Australian politicians are trying to avoid inflation – as inflation can be managed in a variety of ways – especially if a central bank has enough freedom to crunch credit creation and mouth off at government that runs deficits that are too large given the credit creation stance.

        The explanation is much simpler.

        There is a belief that household debt does not matter and in effect we can eat the future without cost.

        For a politician there can be nothing sweeter – goodies with no cost perceived by the public. No one has been holding the government to account for the explosion in household debt. The economic clowns on both sides really believe that household debt does not matter. Kouk is a classic example of an ALP econ myth peddler but there are plenty in the LNP as well.

        The public does understand the implications of debt and they are quite rightly concerned about governments who incur massive debts – especially to foreigners – and you can be sure that they will start to care about household debt as well once they experience the consequences of a maxxed out household sector and realise the only choice to keep the “game” alive is to max out the public balance sheet as well. Mr Morrison is doing a good job on that front already.

        The only solution is foundation reform of our monetary system but that requires people to understand how our current monetary system actually works and why it is dysfunctional.

        And that is going to take a little while.

      • Ronin
        Re the importing to forestall inflation certainly the more we imported the more we got cheaper goods and so inflation has been ‘contained’ – if we take the CPI as the measure! It has been my contention that when measuring the effects of increased money supply (pumping money to reduce IR’s) the PTB should not just consider inflation but also the CAD. That’s the way oit used to be …some time way back when! Virtually the higher the CAD the lower the inflation – as you observe.

        I was a very conscious human being about the time of the Keating Reforms and followed them pretty closely. You are right. it was presented as a ‘fait accomplis’ by Treasury et al. It had to be done or there would be a financial crisis. People like John Stone warned of the long term consequences but in the laudatory atmosphere coming from Banks etc any notes of caution were drowned out.
        The point is that by this time the CAD had been running continuously for 24 years bar 1971. The strains in financing that within the old boundaries had created enormous stress in the system. By that stage an attempt to reform towards balancing the economy away from a chronic CAD would have made anyone unelectable. So yes those who had gone before had created the setting within which the decision was made. But it was a watershed in terms of what then became possible! It lifted pretty much all the constraints on consumption and debt. It’s been party time ever since!

        P.S. Going back in my memory (only) as to who set the future runaway train in motion initially Billy McMahon springs to mind. I’d need to check my dates and policy and I don’t have time. Gough certainly exacerbated the problem in a big way.

      • Flawse,

        I think you confusing a concern about maintaining a fixed exchange rate and the issue of unproductive capital inflows.

        An openly floating exchange rate WAS unavoidable because effectively there is such thing as a fixed exchange rate.

        Exchange rates are always floating it is just that the degree to which they float depends on the regulations controlling transactions that are relevant to its value. The Chinese government is currently fiddling with their regulations on a month by month basis to get the mix right.

        We always needed to accept this basic fact and adopt a floating exchange rate as policy.

        What we did not have to do is to conclude that meant NO restrictions on capital flows – especially unproductive ones.

        Unproductive capital inflows can be restricted and relatively easily on a CLASS by CLASS or in some grey zones a CASE by CASE basis.

        The problem is that people are very binary in their thinking and struggle with the idea that capital flows need specific and tailored regulation having regard to a range of factors.

        The simplest factor to apply is whether the inflow clearly and directly increases the productive capacity of the economy. If there is any doubt the capital inflow should be given a period of time to prove itself or be unwound.

        Hopefully we will develop some policy makers with a bit nuance and the ability to understand that a floating exchange rate does NOT necessarily mean completely unrestricted capital flows.

      • Ronin,

        When the “reforms” commenced in 83, Volker had already tamed inflation. It had fallen to about 3-4%.
        Floating the currency wasn’t inherently wrong. What was wrong was the way the capital account was opened or exchange controls were removed, and the way the financial system was deregulated – leading to what Flawse called above the wild west Hawke-Keating financial system.
        Keating was driven by ideological advisers and was completely out of depth during the mid 80’s. Even if the choices he made were the only ones available, he had no idea what he was signing the country up to.
        John Stone argued at the time that there may be some benefits to floating the currency – defined correctly as removing RBA intervention or allowing the RBA to control money qty (rather than controlling the exchange rate).
        However what gets missed (still today), is that this didn’t mean removing exchange controls. Stone recalls a point in the shambolic planning where Keating or the RBA were claiming the currency couldn’t float without removing exchange controls. Stone was so shocked at the stupidity he didn’t argue the point – later made the point that Japan kept exchange controls well into the 90’s without BoJ FX intervention.
        In any case, if the float was justified, opening the capital account the way they did wasn’t. Rather than allowing the exchange rate to better reflect trade and provide the RBA with more monetary independence, exactly as Treasury argued, it became a plaything of investment banks and Australia a victim of capital inrush.
        There is a direct link with the level of foreign debt, overvaluation, hollowing out that has followed and these decisions.
        But it got really bad when Keating coupled this decision with financial deregulation. By introducing foreign competition, deregulating the banks funding rates, and ending credit rationing, Keating successfully established the borrow abroad to finance a housing bubble model. Not Howard. Keating. He has to own this.

  15. Oh please!! There’s a huge gulf between English and Mandarin and last I heard Chinese send their children here for school, not Australians to China. It’s not like ANZUS could just as easily have been GRANZ or ANZILY despite the Greek and Italian populations.

    This is all handwringing dressed up as geopol – the problem is fucking house prices! Period.

  16. I recently tried to explain to my new partner (who is from the UK) how much i loved growing up in the Melbourne and how angry I am at what it has become. My partner loves Melbourne, and I’m sure a lot of people immigrating here from overcrowded cities love it too, but I can very much relate to H&H’s piece. If i didn’t have ties here I would leave and never look back.

  17. Is the Australia I once knew gone for good?
    Hmm I don’t know, but for my part I find the following somewhat related question far more interesting
    Is the Australian I once knew gone for good?
    Where’s the bloke that could fix practically anything with fencing wire?
    Where’s the girl that loved a sunburnt country?
    where’s the lovable larrikin that could be found in practically every pub?

    I could go on and on but I suspect I’d only end up offending the every modern Australian that exercises their birth right and sucks directly and/or indirectly on the great Entitlement teat.
    So where is the Australian I once knew?

  18. It is not unimaginable and is probably also why some think the “bubble” you mention in the opening paragraph still has a long way to run. Price to income ratios currently “absurd’ are still relatively low compared with some Chinese cities.

  19. Ronin8317MEMBER

    Has the land of ‘Fair Go’ ever existed? Or is it just a myth that Australians cling to? Looking at at Australian manufacturing, Our manufacturers are the ones who offshore all their production at the first opportunity because you cannot survive otherwise. The real killer is the high Australian dollar, and our industrial and tech sector will be very different if the AUD averages at 50c rather than 70c, and allowing the AUD to break USD parity was economic policy failure. Capital flow tracks the exchange rate, whatever doesn’t get consumed goes into the ‘debt machine’ and increase property prices. The notion that ‘market knows best’ has become economic dogma even when reality says otherwise.
    Free flow of capital allows one country to import another country’s economic imbalance, and China has the most unbalanced economy in the history of the world. It is not an accident why dynasty changes in Chinese history starts with land reform. For most of Chinese history, a small number of landlords ends up owning everything due to the combined effect of inflation and slow economic growth, which created the cultural preference to land holding. Things hasn’t changed much since then.
    I was up in Cairns for a holiday last week, and stayed at a bed and breakfast 10 minutes out from Cairns. It’s located at a small suburb with one pub and one post office that is also the convenient store/service station/takeaway. In this sleepy place, the price for a lot of land is 600K. The lot is subdivided from 1 into 3, so the original block of land which one house sits on cost 1.8 million. If I’m a local with kids living there, I will vote for Pauline Hanson as well.

    • “Fair Go” yeah I’ve always assumed this was an Aboriginal expression where whitey got the punctuation wrong.
      It was intended to be
      Fair. Go!

      • You obviously grew-up amongst elites. The elite tall-poppies were always more selfish than the ordinary people and were disliked for that reason.

        The fair go was exemplified by our public school system. We believed in free education. Sure, a few elites sent their elite children to elite private schools, but most people went to public school.

        SHOCK HORROR. Some rich people who could afford private school decided to send their kids to the local public school so their children would mix with all sorts.

        Now that the fair go is gone, many Aussies look down at the public school system. Many aspire to private school. Schooling is now an elitist system, not a fair go egalitarian system like it used to be.

        I could also mention roads and hospitals.

      • Claw
        “SHOCK HORROR. Some rich people who could afford private school decided to send their kids to the local public school so their children would mix with all sorts.”

        Only for Primary school – after that you need to get them in with a better class of hoodlum!

      • @TC You obviously grew-up amongst elites
        Probably right, but that divide has always been a part of Aussie society.
        Schooling is now an elitist system, not a fair go egalitarian system like it used to be
        WHAT?? I doubt there is a stronger MB voice for better public education than mine.
        The elite tall-poppies were always more selfish than the ordinary people and were disliked for that reason.
        What’s the old management joke:
        Boss says: I didn’t come here to be liked
        Worker replies: well you sure came to the right place
        These days I kinda feel that way about Australia (I didn’t come here to be liked)….so for the average Aussie I apparently came to the right place.

      • In a way TC makes a valid observation: You obviously grew-up amongst elites This is a sort of reverse confirmation of HnH’s title Is the Australia I once knew gone for good?
        The Australia that I personally knew still had a sort of Class system where an Elite education was strictly available to an Elite section of the population. This Elite education could not be simply purchased, in a way you were born into the process, the money involved was simply that needed to keep the system functioning. Most of Sydney’s elite schools were traditionally not ran as profit centers they had their own education processes and enjoyed (celebrated) their own traditions. It’s interesting to see how much has changed making these revered institutions of learning mere shadows of their former selves. Today money is more important at Joeys than Rugby, and Riverview seems to have forgotten how to Row.
        It looks like big changes are happening at all Class levels in Australia, one could see this as the devolution of the Class system or the Evolution of a new class system, same facts different conclusions.

      • I don’t think Claw’s argument is that class didn’t exist in the past, I think his argument is that the class divisions were less stark and movement between them more feasible.

        This is reflected in the data showing increasing GINI and decreasing class mobility over the last few decades.

    • Well said, like the Normans in England the Chinese propensity to speculate on land is epic. I say that’s why Chinese property buyers have been going to Straya/NZ/CAN/US/UK and not France or Russia etc.

  20. Except during tiny sliver of period of the Whitlam era, I don’t think Australia was ever land of Fair Go. We had white Australia policy before and neo liberalism after.

  21. Great article. However, where is the viable alternative as I would very much like to move there!

  22. Hi there, long time reader and generally mostly agree with everything MB discusses as Australia’s main issues.
    But I have a doubt hopefully someone can enlighten me (I will do some research on my own as well) it was triggered by this phrase:
    “…. Other than dirt, we do nothing else.”
    Is mining exports the main source of our foreign income ? Or do we have other industries that support us?
    I seem to remember mining is only 8 or 10% of GDP, but is it say 60-80% of our exports ?
    I am just trying to figure out if it is really that bad, I am sure we do more as a country than just dig up dirt…

    • Without checking the numbers you basically have the concept right. We have miners and farmers. Manufacturing is now mostly food chain and foreign owned or aimed at the building industry and again much of it foreign owned. Most live in cities, particularly Sydney melbourne, and produce zip in terms of export income.
      You may find UE’s post of yesterday somewhat instructive

      Fundamentally we run a massive external account deficit funded, in the final analysis, by selling our assets, including now houses, to foreigners. This has now been in process for 60 years – continuous with one small surplus in 1971. The rest is all deficit.

  23. Hi there, long time reader and generally mostly agree with everything MB discusses as Australia’s main issues.
    But I have a doubt hopefully someone can enlighten me (I will do some research on my own as well) it was triggered by this phrase:
    “…. Other than dirt, we do nothing else.”
    Is mining exports the main source of our foreign income ? Or do we have other industries that support us?
    I seem to remember mining is only 8 or 10% of GDP, but is it say 60-80% of our exports ?
    I am just trying to figure out if it is really that bad, I am sure we do more as a country than just dig up dirt…

  24. Well said. Bullied by the PC, authoritarian left, we’re selling out our future for 30 pieces of silver.

    • No Andrew.

      What the hell has the “PC authoritarian left” got to do with it? It’s systemic.

      Also, I suspect the neoliberal blind to everything except idiotic ideology right have rather a lot to do with it too.

      • FWIW I don’t think the main threat to free speech is coming from the Right. I’ll put my hand up as being a ‘Deplorable’

      • FWIW I don’t think the main threat to free speech is coming from the Right. I’ll put my hand up as being a ‘Deplorable’

        The “threat to free speech” from the Left is against people whose free speech is about seeking to harm others through bullying and incitement.

        The “threat to free speech” from the Right is against people whose free speech is about seeking to expose harm to others from deception, corruption and malfeasance.

      • Drsmithy *and anyone else who says anything that could be possibly misconstrued as bigotted, no matter how tenuous.

        As a progressive kind of guy with some eco-left tendencies, I find the social-justice left more repulsive than almost anything on the “deplorable” right, short of actual racists and homophobes etc.

      • As a progressive kind of guy with some eco-left tendencies, I find the social-justice left more repulsive than almost anything on the “deplorable” right, short of actual racists and homophobes etc.

        So you have a problem with racists and homophobes ? Just like the “social-justice left” you find so repulsive ?

      • We probably have a different interpretation of “social justice left”.

        Maybe if there was an objective definition its application could be tested.

        My guess is you’re equating somebody somebody calling somebody else “racist” (or similar) as “threatening free speech”, rather than there being an actual threat to free speech.

  25. Wow bubble writing since 2003. That’s pretty disastrous in terms of prediction since 13 years later, you are still wrong.

    Yes it’s all going to crash but failing to recognise the structural changes over the years is no way a success. Glad I bought in 2006 and didn’t read MB back then.

  26. I agree with the article, a patriotic cris de couer. I feel the first victim of the Property Ponzi was our weak social democracy. I recall prior to the bubble there was a semblance of social solidarity, but that went out the window in the 2004 “interest rates” election. Liberal democracy is more entrenched in our national institutions, but nonetheless endangered. I fear a lot of the people purchasing “citizenship services” are wholly hostile to liberal democracy and consider a one party state desirable.

  27. Everything changes, nothing lasts forever (except Dolly Parton’s tits).

    Our forefathers said the same thing and their forefathers did the same: Australia as we know it (or pick any country you like) has changed!

    Yanks became ruled by the Beltway’s totalitarianism , Russia became a place to seek political asylum and China became the motor of the world growth.
    Who could have thought of this 20-30 years ago?

    • And next up is a massive permanent slowdown in Chinese growth. They are doing all the wrong things to rebalance away from FAI and toward a more open and equal consumer based capitalist model which can facilitate the entrepreneurial/ innovative capital allocation needed for higher growth. It is all politburo now, again. As if the Soviets and Mao have’nt existed. Magnus is more pointedly saying so, along with others (sorry dont have my notes with me to share the names). Pettis provides the understanding but is only subtly saying that rebalancing is getting further away.
      And above all that, the whole world is speeding up. Exponential growth in everything (but especially GDP and population and consumption of resources per person as per capita income rises) will do that after 150 plus years of industrial revolution.
      We either allow immigration or are invaded immediately after the next environmental collapse. Pretty simple. But either way, we are in high speed change now of this larger dimension.
      So it is good China growth is about to slow. Good for the biggest picture (environment). But only for a nano second. Exponential growth will do that.
      I also recommend to you all (and for myself to return to this more) to consider a happier lifestyle. This equals meditating, eat a mostly vegetarian diet and quitting the global financial trading. Basically rediscover how to live more simply and closer to real life and death. You and your children will be better prepared for the troubles ahead. This is my prescription for enduring the end of the world (after Dr Wooreddy and using the unassailable wisdom of Ramana Maharshi and much of the zen buddhist tradition).

  28. I am under the impression that we got where we are by closely following the American economic model of free markets, globalisation, exporting manufacturing, bank deregulation and cheap credit – completely ignoring social side. China’s power and influence are a side-effect of this economic model rather than the intent.

    • I suspect it wasn’t so much a choice but an ultimatum. Do what we say or you’ll get your own Pinochet.

  29. “Politics is now warped completely around the bubble with elections won and lost on house prices alone. Policy is forgotten.”

    I would quibble with that perspective H&H… since Howard ushered in neoliberalism as de facto, all policies have been based on this dominate ideological vision. What was only missing was the lead up time to its inevitable output e.g. as the old colloquialism goes “were just 20 years behind America” something imo we have closed the gap on.

    Lest we forget this template was imported as best practices from key economic schools [well funded] in America, romanticism aside and as always its easy to be blind or disinterested to the fate of others….. until its your turn… whilst the money and proceeds of productivity are relentless hoovered to the top.

    Disheveled Marsupial…. Galbraith ***sigh*** retort…. your all a bunch of socialists – !!!!!!!! – Victory dance ~~~~~~~

    • Would you say the housing bubble is the way that neoliberalism has most obviously manifested itself in this country?

      • I would say its a result of it due to the neoliberal code, this is whats funny about lordduds stripe, America is ground zero.

  30. While I understand the current concerns with house prices, the formula followed very successfully for the last 50 years (but with relatively short interruptions every 10 years or so) has been finish education (trade or uni or nursing or teaching), get engaged, save for a year, get married, mortgage to teh hilt and buy whatever you can afford, work a few years, have kids and watch inflation and promotions based on increased experience ease your mortgage over time till your mortgage debt is say 50% gone then do an extension and renovation with an increased mortgage and pay everything down to nothing by retirement and hopefully do a renovation that will take you through another 10 years out of your super. Many have got a bit of a kick along for a reno or new car when their parents, who followed the same formula, finally die.
    It’s been such an obvious formula for a good enough life, I don’t understand why so many decided not to follow it and now complain about what most knew was the most likely outcome.
    Whether it is the best strategy this year remains to be seen, but realise that successful market timing is very difficult (as shown by the situation of those who followed all that “Don’t buy now” advice 3, 4, and 5 years ago, and that whenever it has fallen or plateaued for a few years it has always come back. I would estimate that less than 5% of buyers of their owner occupied home have ever lost their house, merely because of a change in the housing market (unless of course they had geared up for investment properties or business or consumption or become gamblers or suffered some really serious accident or illness).
    The whole political, social and economic system is based on making this formula work. It is dangerous to bet against the system. Don’t complain when you bet against the system and the system that works for 80% of the population 90% of the time continues to work.

      • Lmmao…. Humanity is a ponzi scheme as soon as it consumes more than the planet can recycle or regenerate naturally…. chortle…

      • RE is just an indicator of a larger problem, just like in America, focusing the result of something is not a way to fix it imo….

    • @Explorer
      From a practical and individual perspective I tend to agree with you, however what’s happening Today is RE investment to the exclusion of all other investment and that’s something new. Logically neither a society nor an individual can borrow their way to true wealth, however what they can do is leverage borrowed money to create productive revenue streams which support the loans. This style of global capital supporting local Aussie opportunity benefits everyone, unfortunately the current insanity of global capital chasing 40 plus year old Aussie RE assets is wealth destroying, I suspect the Aussie youth are expressing their angst because they can see the opportunity cost of this Mal-investment, the true cost is their job, the cash flow from which provides the only real support mechanism for our RE price insanity.

    • I think you raise some subtle but valid points.

      Recently I read of the rising phenomenon of younger generations ‘discounting’ the future. Not making the long term choices that stood some likelihood of (all things being equal) securing their own future. Looked at a range of behaviours – education, career choice, delayed coupling, delayed child rearing etc – almost a zen like zeitgeist – live in the moment. Some might even say current incarnation of Government/political sphere operates in a similarly short-term mindset. Delayed gratification is not on the agenda.

      What gives rise to this: it’s a mix. Uncertain economic times. Unstable home backgrounds, divorce etc. Apocalypse era the world is doomed AGW style gloomerism. Ridicule of old fashioned values such as prudence, patience, others before the self. Decline in objective thinking via poorly considered educational mantras. Superficial absorption of Eastern philosophies. Distrust in everything. Trust in nothing.

      It’s a minority view, but a disrupting one and ultimately self-defeating unless you wish to live in an ashram.

  31. While I broadly agree with most of this, it seems there is a danger of conflating a number of different issues.

    There is definitely a valid argument to be had around the hollow economy, sustainable immigration, the “population ponzi” and foreign investment. No arguments there. However you need to be really careful about this discussion. Many of these comments already demonstrate that for most people, this is not an economic argument. It becomes fundamentally about harking back to an Australia that never really existed, at least for anyone outside the accepted norm. So we get people crawling out of the woodwork trying to steer the discussion towards their backwards, insular, racist views.

    I would like to think we could get past this and, as a nation, discuss the issues intellectually, and I respect the work that MB has done to do this. However the fact that these threads are constantly sidetracked suggests there is a long way to go.

    The last thing I want is the Australia I knew. I want the Australia we were starting to become, before Howard came along and tore down everything that was great about Australia.

  32. An increasing number of people are drifting into a conspiratorial mode of thought, in which there is a ‘them’ who work in concert to bring about events. Those claimed events obviously include economic events, but cultural changes are increasingly targeted and, alas, more talk involves the usual suspects. Quite a few people now talk of a perceived need to put the usual suspects ‘in their place’. Obviously, this could turn very nasty.

    On a larger scale, since the industrial revolution, which wasn’t really all that long ago, our society has been flung from one in which people were surrounded by extended family, lived at or near where they worked, etc. into one in which we live rather more atomised lives, not surrounded by those close to us. This is still unresolved. A generation or two ago, when things were economically good, we could overlook that, but now that unresolved societal trauma is coming back.

  33. Why do we keep getting such shitty politicians? They are so shit, for so long, are they incompetent or wilfully trying to mess stuff up?
    Salary for Australian PM $517k this year.
    Salary for Ian Narev (Commbank CEO) $12.3 Million this year.
    Who runs the country?

    • Who’s running it? Everyone, no one.

      There’s no conspiracy. It’s actually much more depressing than that. People are reacting to the situations they are in. Unfortunately, too many of the people at the top are prone to autistic or psychopathic thinking: they don’t get that there are other people in the world, and many don’t care either.

    • At the moment, for whatever reason, people are simply voting for ‘what’s in it for me’ So that is the sort of politician we get! Of course you can argue we have this type of politician who won’t spell out any difficult narrative so people vote the way they do.
      All in all i think it is to do with attention span, and as suggested elsewhere in this discussion, TV has a lot to do with it one form and another.
      Again JMO for the sake of the discussion. Who KNOWS?

      • “At the moment, for whatever reason, people are simply voting for what’s in it for me”…
        Watch the Century of the Self and you’ll understand why. Great documentary, not sure who advised to watch it over some thread…

  34. Very well written article.
    However, it’s all well and good to put pen to paper, but it’s not enough.
    You can do that for decades but the status quo will remain unchanged.

    We need to fight back, stand up, and not take this shit we are being served up every day by incompetent gutless politicians that get off on doing nothing.

    Kids – leave Australua (soon to be owned by China)
    Boomers – advocate for once in your life for future generations (you can afford it)

    Fight this shit.

    • “Boomers – advocate for once in your life for future generations (you can afford it)”

      Mate, that’s like asking a chimpanzee to solve a rubiks cube.

      The boomers have never, and I mean day zero, never lived without taking money away from another generation.

      They don’t know how to say “No, we’re not going to put ourselves first in this area”.

      A learned uselessness in a way.

      The only way to fight it is to abandon them, and what’s important to them…. move to small towns and live in a barter economy.

      Starve the beast.

      • Mate, that’s like asking a chimpanzee to solve a rubiks cube.

        The boomers have never, and I mean day zero, never lived without taking money away from another generation.
        They don’t know how to say “No, we’re not going to put ourselves first in this area”.
        Unfortunately, and as a Boomer, I think that is very true.

  35. I wish I could share your optimism, David, but I fear our culture – particularly the foundation of “a fair go” is irrevocably broken.

    Our number has come up in the Green Card Lottery this year, so at least I’ve got a third escape route if things really start going to shit. The US might be further down the same destructive path as Oz, but it’s a lot easier to get lost in the noise there, plus the living costs are lower and opportunities for my kids are much greater.

      • Sure, and I’ve had one in the past.

        But an E3 visa _requires_ a job offer to qualify (and since most US employers at best have no idea what it is and at worst won’t give anyone who isn’t a citizen, resident or already in the country an existing visa that allows employment any consideration at all, job offers can be hard to come by). I’ve also read/been told that the path from E3 to GC can be relatively bumpy “because that’s not really what it was created for” (that said the only person I know myself who has done it had no problems).

        In contrast, the GC Lottery is basically guaranteed and we’re fortunate enough to have sufficient USD savings & assets to probably live for a couple of years without either of us finding work. Its biggest downside (for us) is that it has to be taken up within the year it’s won (so cutoff is late next year), and can subsequently only push out a permanent move for another 12 (easy) to 24 (harder but still fairly likely) months before being considered to have abandoned it. We have to trade that off against having 6-month old twins, two sets of grandparents within a ten minute drive and pretty secure employment with two (when my wife goes back to work next year) top-decile incomes.

        In summary, it’s good to have options, but another couple of years to get the kids near to school age before having to commit one way or the other on this one would have been preferable.

      • FWIW Dr S, I’ve done my time o/s, and the biggest regret was separating the kids from their grandparents (and the cousins etc too but grandparents are a particularly special relationship and they don’t last forever).
        With respect to opportunities for your kids…do a good job bringing them up and they’ll be fine…who knows what the world looks like in 25 years anyway.
        My 2c, anyway, and all the best however it turns out.

      • FWIW Dr S, I’ve done my time o/s, and the biggest regret was separating the kids from their grandparents (and the cousins etc too but grandparents are a particularly special relationship and they don’t last forever).
        With respect to opportunities for your kids…do a good job bringing them up and they’ll be fine…who knows what the world looks like in 25 years anyway.

        Yeah, it’s not something I’m taking lightly. I grew up with one set of grandparents literally a 2 minute walk away (grandparents sectioned a chunk off their old pineapple farm for us to live on) and also had the other set, plus aunties, uncles and cousins all within a short drive.

        But I have a real fear that the place is rooted in a way that will take decades to recover from, and those decades will be the ones that matter Plus, if the whole world goes to shit, there will be much worse places to be living than Flyoverland, USA.

        Plan at the moment is to draw the GC process out as long as possible and keep entering the lottery again each year to see if our number comes up again (odds on winning in OC are better than basically anywhere else in the world), then make a decision mid-late 2019 (unless one is forced upon us – eg: both unemployed and can’t find work locally).

      • Already spent a couple of years living in the US (Scottsdale AZ), I have on-the-ground experience.

        Our politicians (and sizeable chunk of the population) are determined to turn this place into America 2.0. It’s just a matter of time.

      • I would add ‘America 2.0, but without the diversity’. America’s massive strength is its diversity. Lousiana and Washington may as well be separate countries on separate continents for all their similarities.

        Australia is on the road to be all of America’s mediocre parts, without the good parts.

      • What have you been smoking lord….

        Please show me the data showing how great the American economy is doing for most of it, not to mention the most absurd national election in modernity….

      • I would add ‘America 2.0, but without the diversity’. America’s massive strength is its diversity. Lousiana and Washington may as well be separate countries on separate continents for all their similarities.

        Australia is on the road to be all of America’s mediocre parts, without the good parts.


  36. Yes it is gone, and you can trace it from 1996. The only question from this point is how much can be salvaged from the hands of contemptuous thugs like Scott Morrison, Peter Dutton, Tony Abbott …et al.

  37. Gen Y advised to hold off buying property … Australian Broker

    by Miklos Bolza

    With the smashed avocado debate continuing to rage this week, opinions have generally been one of two versions: whether the lifestyle of the younger generation is destroying their chance to purchase a home or whether they can even afford it.

    However, Michael Janda, business reporter at ABC News, has offered up a third viewpoint on the topic, saying that Generation Y shouldn’t even bother buying a home just yet.

    In a business analysis written on Sunday, Janda suggested that it was better to wait to buy a home for the following reasons: … read more via hyperlink above …

  38. I largely agree with H&H article, and very disappointed at the sustained attack on the fair go, and also that there are so few willing to defend it.
    But reducing immigration is only treating a symptom. The prime cause, in my view, is that capital gains on land value are not taxed sufficiently. Land, especially a house, is now purchased not for the shelter it provides, but as a store of value, protected from tax. This is the main reason Chinese investors invest in Australia, rather than somewhere else. You can’t blame them, as we set the rules. I quite like high immigration and cultural diversity, and understand that it takes some time to expand infrastructure to match.
    If land was taxed appropriately, immigrants and locals would only buy land when they actually need it. Then there would no reason to worry about other people missing out, and the connection between home prices and immigration levels would be broken.

  39. “There was a land of Cavaliers and Cotton Fields called the Old South. Here in this pretty world, Gallantry took its last bow. Here was the last ever to be seen of Knights and their Ladies Fair, of Master and of Slave. Look for it only in books, for it is no more than a dream remembered, a Civilization gone with the wind…”

    (Oddly enough, what was true then still seems true now. Land is the only thing that really matters. Oh, Tara…)

    • I’ve got a great set of videotapes on the American Civil War. In one place there is an account where some Northern Officers and their women went on a picnic beside the river. Unbeknown to them some Southern troops were on the other side. The Southerners didn’t open fire because it would be very bad manners to kill men in front of women!
      That’s manners!!! 😉

      • That would be Ken Burns’ brilliant Civil War doco? Wonderful and yet hardly a moving frame, all done with stills, fitting music and a rich Southern drawl voice-over that was almost hypnotic.

  40. I am an old hand at getting out of sinking ships. Here are some of them – Cairo, Manila, Tehran, Amsterdam, Paris and London.

    Melbourne has a slight flavour of London before the influx, and I really like that. I don’t think I am the only one who considers himself a refugee from the 3rd world.

    I am fairly sure that most people in my situation want the door firmly shut and locked. Selfish I know, but that is just the way it is. Those who want the cities here to become like Lagos, Nairobi, New Delhi, Mexico City, São Paulo and Karachi should be given free plane tickets to check out these places.

    Here is a good read (not before bed time):

    “Planet of Slums”

    I have a printed copy, but someone seems to be handing it out for free

  41. This has been my take for at least 4 years. Take a look at pretty much every decision made by Australians in the last decade… Australians have made the wrong one pretty much every time. And there’s no miscarriage of democracy happening. Australians well and truly have the government they voted for.

    Meanwhile, in the US I now save more after tax than my gross income in Oz 5 years ago. Australia has mediocre companies, bad management, a greedy populace chasing lazy money via asset speculation, an insane cost base, an active hatred of their own youth, and a deliberately sabotaged tech sector. Your media is now so shit (aside from the few exceptions like MB) that it makes the US look like a media paradise. There are few opportunities in Oz outside of the rentier sectors. Moving my family out forever was one of the best things I ever did.

    So now I get to sit back, drink Tricerahops Double IPA, and watch Australians eat each other, sell the joint to maintain your Land Cruiser Prado purchasing power, or perhaps both. Ha ha ha ha ha!

  42. I despair most about our political and economic malaise and the apparent disinterest by the electorate and the elected to set in train sound policies that will ensure some economic independence for future generations. Our current trajectory ensures we will continue to sell off and sell out simply to tread water. This is our national challenge. It will mean pain. It must be done. Alas in this era of Whaddaboutme it ain’t gonna happen.

    As for the rest. Here in Perth, I just don’t feel it! Perth, despite the end of the mining construction boom still feels a very manageable place to live. Beautiful weather on the weekend, BBQ on the foreshore near UWA, city skyline glimmering, kids paddling, boats cruising – it really felt like the era of Tim Winton’s Cloudstreet (and that not too far away).

    Maybe what HnH feels, and others here at MB, are the pressures of the bigger cities: crowds, congestion, housing costs etc. Not really a Perth problem I guess – and we’re about to embark on the summer season: the river the sea the Island down South and blessed air conditioning 😉 But absolutely beautiful.

    • Enjoy the meal you just made? The byzantines may felt as complacent, right up until Turkish heavy guns started crumbling the thousand year old fortifications… Then next thing you know they don’t speak Koni Greek anymore

  43. armchair economist

    150 comments….why doesnt MB register it self as a political party?
    Look bottom line is we either have to wait for the filthy greedy boomers to die of natural causes or retire them from positions of power via a coup d’état

  44. Manners……….. its the death of manners that kills me.

    “Reality” TV has somehow been a beacon for how people think they should act and relate to each other.

    We have reached a point, where manners need to be taught to all ages in our society. They are required for mutual respect and a healthy society. This dog eat dog I’m first to eat culture is only going to end like Rapa Nui………………

    • and you can kiss manners away for good if we keep flooding the joint with main land chinese, those two do not go together.

  45. YES,Same as it went for most of the indigenous within 50 years of the first fleet, same as it went for my youthful father and mother after another 40 years, same as its gone for me after 40 years of adult awareness.
    The question is whether it is good that the old Australia is gone.
    And the answer to that is undoubtedly yes overall, even though there are always some losers and offsets.
    Conditions are much better for women (much improved opportunities and protections), aboriginals (no longer non-voting fauna in an empty land), gays (no longer criminal for males over 16 or 18), kids (much more emphasis on child protection), the elderly (nursing homes, medical treatment), the bottom 10% (medicare and tertiary education support for their kids), manual workers (better OH&S laws, less workplace deaths) and the general population with diversity, travel, labour saving devices, better transport etc.

  46. innocent bystander

    … has now engulfed not just our economy but our politics, our media, our social structure and entire strategic outlook

    I know OZ has its own traits with its debt bubble
    but seems like a lot of countries have the same problems as us.
    I’m with flawse – consumerism.

  47. I was away for 13 years, came back in 2012. One thing I noticed is that there is no longer any honour in being working class. Working is for chumps, and we tax and fine our working class like we mine our dirt for gold. It’s punishment for not being rich, because if you are not rich then you are obviously stupid and/or lazy.

  48. I am not sure if Multi Culturism has ever functioned well. Any kind of policy as profound as the impacts immigration has on the host population forced on the people by the Government. For example have we ever had a vote on how many and what type of cultures we would like to live along side us. Modern Science has repeatedly confirmed that we are group based and favour our own and don’t extend the same trust to outsiders from totally different cultures. This states the obvious when we observe and open our eyes around us.

  49. Whilst I agree with your overall premise that the Australia of today is fundamentally different to the 70’s I wonder if your perspective is a little biased? I would suggest that :

    The economy is not a hollowed out wasteland. As well as your beloved ‘houses and holes’ Australia has many world leading companiesfor example Cochlear ($7.3B medical devices company), Atlassian ($6.3B technology company) and Seek ($5.3B online global marketplace).

    Politics is not wrapped completely around the bubble – I would suggest ideological in-fighting and voter disengagement are equally damaging (hardly a uniquely Australian issue)

    Multi-culturalism has never been Australia’s strong point (White Australia policy anyone). Plus haven’t net permanent arrivals into Australia fallen to levels not seen since the late 1970s (

    There is a shift in global focus from the US to China, again not a uniquely Australian issue and far more nuanced than being driven mainly by house prices and construction.

    I agree that the property sector is overheated, mainly as a result of aggressive lending, low interest rates and the risk weighting of residential mortgages under Basel III but blaming it all on the Chinese seems a little simplistic

  50. I guess the question is what can be done (if any) to reverse our current trajectory?
    It’s fine to point out the deficiencies across the political, economic, and social landscape, but equally important is to chart a path forward.. otherwise, we’re just a bunch of whiners..

  51. is oz fkt ?? yes it is, from the grassroots up….Fuck Australia..lazy bone idle entitled urbanised pretenders…and all of this malaise occurs in an information age where ignorance is a choice.

  52. If the status quo and current trends continue, Australia will be on its way to having its own version of a Donald Trump type political figure.

    It will not be Pauline Hanson. She is simply too dumb and unable to string together a well thought out, nuanced argument.
    I should add that, Malcolm Turnbull; is Australia’s “PR” (Public Relations) Prime Minister. All gloss and fancy words … yet he is barely treading water. By compromising with his Patry, he has been compromised.

    Here, Michael Moore explains why many Americans will be voting for Trump.

    More and more Australia’s are slowly but surely reaching the point where their vote will be a “F*ck You” to the Political establishment.

    When people feel that they have nothing left to lose; they lose it.