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No room for young Australians in the housing market?

By Gavin Fernando - posted Wednesday, 21 August 2013

WARNING: the nuclear family is being threatened.

Soon we will be forced to accept reality, pack up our things and say a teary goodbye to the great Australian dream of a spouse and children behind a white picket fence.

Is this just a conservative rant about marriage equality? Is it the ever-encroaching threat of global warming? Did the Mayans just mix their dates up a little bit, with the end of the world being December 2013?


No, no and no. Housing prices. The sleeper issue on which politicians have maintained a silent stance is gradually causing stress levels for young people to accelerate faster than a Tony Abbott faux-pas trends on Twitter.

With various taxes and policy, population growth and home buyers being constantly outbid by investors, housing affordability is the number one issue for young voters. To rent or to purchase? To work or to procreate? To bitch about living with your parents or to bitch about living on your own? These are the questions.

See, it turns out living in some of the most aesthetically-pleasing cities in the world has its drawbacks. Preparing to settle down is a seemingly impossible task when entry houses within 30km of the CBD are close to half a million dollars. Young couples feel faced with the choice of buying a house or starting a family – you can have one or the other, but both is out of the question.

As it stands, 30-40% of one's salary is expected to go on a mortgage on average. Given the housing market is dominated by private investors, rent has also soared to ridiculous heights, pushing low income earners in particular into housing stress, mental health issues and homelessness.

Amidst all the talk of boats, taxes, education funding and a faster internet, this is an issue politicians don't appear all that willing to mess with. Why? Arguably it's as cynical as not wanting to lose the crucial vote of the baby boombers, who dominate the private
housing sector.

On one hand, NSW Senator Doug Cameron recently claimed Labor has invested $30.1 billion in housing and homelessness, as well as a policy built around the rental assistance scheme to build tens of thousands of houses 20% under the market rate.


On the other, Liberal Party strategist Grahame Morris said a change of government is necessary to give people the confidence to invest and have a go at home ownership, although the Liberal Party is yet to detail its costings. Their Real Solutions booklet states they will work closely with the States and Territories to "reduce red tape holding up the supply of housing and construction" – that is all.

We tend to blame the government for this because shortage of land isn't the issue. We have more land per capita in Australia than anywhere else in the world, which makes these enormous prices bitterly ironic.

But perhaps the problem lies in Australia's social demographic itself. Whilst land shortage is not and never has been an issue, we all flood towards the one place: the CBD. The damn flurry of buzz, infrastructure and job opportunities that keeps traffic congested, air polluted and conveniently-located houses very, very high. Nobody wants to live on the edge of the urban fringe – and anyone that has taken a sweaty, smelly, overcrowded train from the city to the western suburbs at 6pm could tell you why.

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This article was first published by ElectionWire. What do you think about housing prospects for young people? Are we just being too picky about where we live? Voice your thoughts with the hashtag #electionWIRE and then find out what other young people are saying at

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About the Author

Gavin Fernando is a wannabe-journalist and theatre critic. Follow him on Twitter @GavinDFernando

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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