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Dispossession by stealth

By Stephen Hagan - posted Tuesday, 25 October 2005

As Henry O (1862-1910) US short-story writer said: “It was beautiful and simple as all truly great swindles are.”

Oh - the great Australian dream to own one’s home. For many the simple thought of arriving at their paved driveway after a hard day at the office, pressing the remote control to open the double garage door and entering the pre-programmed ducted air-conditioned brick home situated on a hectare with views, via an internal access, is just a dream.

It really can happen if only you follow the music of the pied piper.


Pied piper Johnny Howard, introducing the debate on Indigenous property rights in the Northern Territory which he hopes will spark a shift to private home ownership and enterprise culture for Indigenous Australians, says “trust and follow me” as he plays yet another entrancing tune on his pipe.

The 2001 census showed that households with Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islanders were much more likely to be renting a home than purchasing or owning it outright. The statistics revealed that 63 per cent of households of Indigenous people were renting (compared with approximately 27 per cent of other households); 19 per cent were purchasing their home (compared with 27 per cent of other households); and 13 per cent owned their home outright (compared with 40 per cent of other households).

Despite the supreme optimists saying that homeownership is within everyone’s reach, the ABS statistics reveals otherwise, with an uninspiring true picture of the battle Indigenous families would have to go through just to meet their monthly repayments from their meagre wages, after essential household bills (electricity, phone, fuel, food, clothing, schooling and sporting expenditure) have been deducted.

In the census, the mean (or average) gross household income for Indigenous peoples was $364 per week, or 62 per cent of the rate for non-Indigenous peoples ($585 per week). The ABS has stated, “this disparity reflects the lower household incomes received by households with Indigenous person(s), and the tendency for such households to be larger than other households and hence for the gross household income to be lower”.

For Indigenous persons, income levels generally decline with increased geographic remoteness. In major cities and regional areas, average incomes for Indigenous persons were approximately 70 per cent of the corresponding income for non-Indigenous persons. This declines to approximately 60 per cent in remote areas, and just 40 per cent in very remote areas.

You be the judge on whether it is feasible for anyone on $365 per week ($1,460 per month) or at best a dual (husband and wife) income of $730 per week ($2,920 per month) could meet the following monthly repayments, based on the current Commonwealth Bank Standard Variable rate of 7.32 per cent (principal and interest) over a 25-year period.


As a guide only, click on the following site and then click on the home loan calculator to do your own calculations on a figure within your own price range.

If pied piper Johnny is genuinely committed to making homeownership a reality within Indigenous communities he should provide adequate resources, as identified and costed by the community, to enhance economic and community based enterprises that will foster an increase in their average income.

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About the Author

Stephen Hagan is Editor of the National Indigenous Times, award winning author, film maker and 2006 NAIDOC Person of the Year.

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