From Rob Burgess today:
Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen gave a good speech on Tuesday, promising to super-size Labor’s planned banking royal commission.
Originally intended to flush out illegal and deceptive activity in the banks, a royal commission should, he says, spring clean their legal activities too because that’s where the real damage to the economy is occurring.
Actually, Labor doesn’t need a royal commission to address the problem Mr Bowen described – namely, the hodge-podge of regulations being used to deal with the housing-credit bubble. A bit of well-written legislation would do the job just fine.
He is right, however, that we have a problem.
The key regulators who influence bank behaviour – the Reserve Bank, the Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority and the Australian Securities and Investment Commission – are discharging their duties admirably, but are still somehow allowing the banks to gobble up more and more of Australian life.
Australia’s growing private debt to GDP ratio, he points out, is second only to Switzerland’s, at 123 per cent.
Mr Bowen spoke about the need for banks to be “unquestionably strong”, complained about the “composition of the property market, investors versus owner-occupiers”, and repeated regulators’ concerns that household debt is making the economy less resilient.
Well that’s all true. But if he wants to sharpen his rhetoric, he’d should reframe those comments from the perspective of young Australians.
After World War II, only half of private sector homes were owned, either with or without a mortgage, by their occupants.
That climbed rapidly to peak at 71.4 per cent in 1966 – a level that fluctuated a bit, but was essentially maintained until the turn of the millennium.
But as the housing-credit bubble inflated, and prices sky-rocketed, the home ownership rate started sliding – from 69.5 per cent in 2002, to 67 per cent at the 2011 census, and to 65.5 per cent last year.
MB could not agree more. We just wonder how Burgess can write this one day then the following the next:
There is, however, a political danger that comes with these arguments – beyond the obvious whipping up of xenophobia…
If we got the balance wrong in the past 15 years on housing/population, infrastructure/population and growth/population, cutting immigration would seem to be the obvious answer.
But attacking the population side of the equation is a bit like the old joke about religious puritans – that they ‘don’t like sex, because it can lead to dancing’.
When it comes to immigration, we ‘don’t like people, because they can lead to policy failure’.
…it’s not hard to see that Australia isn’t full of people – only full of politicians who have stoked a property bubble without boosting supply, failed to invest in adequate infrastructure, and have tricked the nation into believing that jobs will flow from a historic run-up in private debt…
In short, the government has to take its share of the blame for creating an under-populated nation that ‘can’t afford’ to house new migrants, or provide them with services and jobs.
So in the short-term immigration levels will need to be cut. But in the longer-term we need to stop blaming willing, hard-working, would-be migrants for the policy failings of Canberra.
We are – or at least should be – much bigger than that.
If you’re against the housing bubble and, moreover, the marginalisation of young Australians, then ipso facto you can’t also favour mass immigration. Especially so post-2011 as the mining boom adjustment transpires and mass immigration into economic oversupply also smashes wages, especially at the entry level (ie youth), not to mention debasing infrastructure for the future and destroying the environment. Sorry!
This cognitive dissonance is rampant across the Left of Australian politics. The housing bubble hypcocrites include:
- Ross Gittins, who used to regularly question the economic benefits of the population ponzi but never mentions it today;
- for that matter, the entire Fairfax crew who would rather virtue signal in support of Domain than they would discuss the merits of immigration;
- The Guardian Australia which never mentions immigration as responsible for anything other than Nirvana despite fake sympathies for youth;
- the Grattan Institute which has terrific research but can’t seem to bring itself to discuss immigration even on issues like housing affordability;
- The Greens who rejigged their anti-population growth policy to fight One Nation in the late nineties despite it destroying the environment and purporting to care about youth;
- The Labor Party which is pro-immigration because it supports sectional union interests;
I could go on. Indeed, the only groups I can think of that occupy progressive political territory but don’t suffer from this peculiar hypocrisy are MB, The Australia Institute and Tim Colebatch.
All of the Left’s housing bubble hypocrites have advanced cases of Paulinephobia, the fear of association with One Nation policies no matter the truth. And they’re happy to abuse Australian youth in defense of this wowserishness.
Here’s a tip, guys. Pauline Hanson is nothing more than a tuck shop racist writ large and you’ve all turned her into some kind of all-consuming devil that dis-empowers yourselves and our kids.
To wit, from the AFR:
In front of the 22-storey high-rise Reserve Bank of Australia building on Martin Place is Sydney’s homeless “tent city”, where 33-year-old Rewi Waetford has been sleeping rough for the last three months.
When New Zealand-born Mr Waetford came to Australia as a 15-year-old he got a job operating a forklift at a warehouse, which paid him $37 an hour. But when the warehouse was taken over, he had to get a job as a labourer for a small construction company and copped a pay cut to $26 an hour.
Following a breakup with his partner, he found himself paying $357 a week for a lodging room in North Sydney. When the construction company didn’t pay him on time and he fell behind on the rent, he was forced to temporarily stay at a hotel.
After the money ran out for that, he rented a private room at a backpacker’s hostel, then a six-person shared room at the backpacker’s, until he ended up on the streets earlier this year. He no longer works as a labourer.
“The rent’s gone too expensive. You have to be in a relationship or shared housing,” Mr Waetford said. “It’s been good, I plan on keep doing this,” he said, referring to living in a tent alongside the other 52 homeless people on Martin Place and helping out at Sydney’s 24-7 Street Kitchen and Safe Space which provides tents, food and clothes to homeless people.
Get over yourselves, wowsers. There’s no war but the class war and you are prosecuting it directly upon Australia’s children, old and new.