Monday, December 06, 2021

’Ticking time bomb of inequality’ to put owning a home beyond the reach of children born today

Rubbish! This galah has rightly noted the big increase in house prices but is oblivious that home unit prices have not followed suit. Home unit prices have increased much less. And the way apartment towers keep popping up there should soon be downward pressure on unit prices. Home unit prices should remain affordable even when house prices do not. Home unit living can be perfectly congenial

Australian kids born in major capitals today face a “ticking time bomb of inequality” that could force them to rent for life as homeownership becomes an inherited luxury.

That’s the prediction from a leading futurist, who has warned the government may need to level the playing field as the bank of mum and dad drives entrenched wealth between Australians and their homeownership dreams.

It comes as newborn babies can take their first steps on the property ladder before they can walk, with fractional property investment now open to minors via BrickX.

Global futurist at the Thinque think tank Anders Sorman-Nilsson said while Australia’s cultural affinity with homeownership was driving markets like Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane today, it would price out more and more residents in the coming decades.

“You may (in the future) only be able to afford your own home in Sydney and Melbourne if your mum and dad are taking out some of the equity in their own home to help,” Mr Sorman-Nilsson said.

“This could be a ticking time bomb of inequality. So there will have to be something done to ensure that this Australian dream will remain.”

Affordability issues already mean large parts of Sydney are out of reach for many buyers.

He noted some countries had implemented wealth and inheritance taxes to stem the impact of intergenerational gifts such as the hundreds of thousands of dollars some parents offered to help their kids into a home.

Price growth might be alleviated as greater “digital democracy” made knowledge-based jobs more accessible in regional areas, but it was still likely many kids born today will never own a home.

“You will see new European-style housing arrangements, with people who rent for life or rentvest – buying an investment property, but renting where they want to live,” he said.

Proptrack (’s research division) economic research director Cameron Kusher said price growth over the past 30 years was unlikely to repeat in the coming decades as it had been buoyed by falling interest rates, which were more likely to now rise.

But Mr Kusher said even a conservative estimate would put home price growth ahead of inflation, which typically rises as wages do, meaning today’s prices could still be doubled in 30 years time when newborns would be looking to buy.

“Most parents will help via their property increasing in price,” Mr Kusher said. “But unfortunately homeownership has been falling, so not everyone will be able to do that.”

He said parents might consider shares or fractional property purchases to help their kids


NSW government overturns decision to block coal mine expansion

The New South Wales government has been accused of being “captured” by the coal industry after it overturned a planning commission decision to block a mine expansion that it found could cause irreversible damage to drinking water and release significant heat-trapping gas.

The deputy premier, Paul Toole, and planning minister, Rob Stokes, declared on Saturday the Dendrobium mine expansion near Wollongong – proposed by BHP spin-off South32 – was “state significant infrastructure” due to its role providing coal for the Port Kembla steelworks.

It reversed a planning commission decision in February to reject the proposal, which would have allowed the company to extract an extra 78m tonnes of coal from two areas near the Avon and Cordeaux dams. The dams supply water to metropolitan Sydney and the Macarthur, Illawarra and Wollondilly regions.

The state government did not mention the water supply or emissions in its statement about the mine expansion. Toole said Dendrobium was a critical source of coking coal for the Port Kembla steelworks and declaring it significant infrastructure would “provide thousands of workers with greater certainty on the future of their jobs”. He said the mine contributed $1.9bn to the state’s economy each year.

The NSW government also confirmed it had ruled out future coal exploration in the Hawkins and Rumker areas in the state’s central west, a step flagged by Guardian Australia last month.

South32 said it welcomed the government’s decision. A company spokesperson said it “marks an important step” and would allow a submission for an alternate mine plan to that rejected by the planning commission.

“We continue to consider our options to determine the best path forward for Illawarra Metallurgical Coal, to continue to supply metallurgical coal for local steel production and support local jobs and investment,” it said.

The Dendrobium declaration means South32 can submit an environmental impact statement for community feedback and assessment by the planning department. The department previously recommended the independent planning commission approve the project as its benefits would “significantly outweigh its residual costs, and that it is in the public interest”.

It has been supported by Bluescope Steel, which claimed “green steel” – made using hydrogen and renewable energy – was decades away and it wanted to use an existing blend of coking coal until 2048.

Dan Gocher, director of climate and environment at shareholder activist organisation the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility, said the Dendrobium decision “reeks of state capture”


Australia’s Omicron travel ban is ‘discrimination’, South African diplomat says

The ban does sound like closing the door after the horse has bolted. What does it achieve?

South Africa’s high commissioner to Australia, Marthinus van Schalkwyk, said the ban needed to be overturned due to large numbers of Omicron cases being detected in other continents and not just in parts of Africa.

“We believe it is discrimination, because the only difference is these countries [on the travel ban list] are on the African continent,” he told ABC Radio on Monday. “The ban is unfair, there is no evidence the ban works, the World Health Organization confirms that.”

The travel ban to nine southern African nations was announced in the wake of the Omicron variant being detected. It also led to a two-week delay to the entry of visa holders without a medical exemption, which is now set to take place from 15 December.

Despite the pause on international arrivals, 250 fully vaccinated students will arrive on Monday in Sydney as part of a New South Wales government pilot program. The arrivals will still need to isolate in student accommodation for three days.

There have been 15 cases of Omicron detected in NSW, while two have been identified in the Australian Capital Territory and one in the Northern Territory.

The finance minister, Simon Birmingham, said while the government had been cautious about the arrival of Omicron, the steps were necessary to assess the situation.

“It seems that plenty of advisers are indicating that vaccines continue to provide strong levels of protection, and it is why people should get vaccinated if they haven’t done so already,” Birmingham told ABC TV.

“We’re now at the point where we’re one of the most highly vaccinated countries in the world.”


Scholarship program fails to attract NSW teachers as staff prepare to strike for first time in a decade

Until they bite the bullet of bringing back effective discipline in classes, government schoolrooms will remain a workplace environment that attracts only the desperate

A New South Wales government program aimed at convincing professionals to become maths teachers attracted only six people last year, five of whom dropped out before their scholarships were complete.

As the state’s public school teachers prepare for their first strike in almost a decade on Tuesday, new figures have cast doubt on the success of the government’s attempts to address teacher shortages in NSW without significantly increasing pay.

In 2019, the state government announced the Teach.Maths NOW scholarship to lure current undergraduates and industry professionals with a background in pure or applied mathematics to become teachers.

But the program has struggled to attract and retain applicants. Despite funding for 160 placements, the program was only offered to 53 people in its first two years. Now, new figures obtained by the Guardian show the program has also failed to keep many of the industry professionals who did apply.

According to the government, only six industry professionals were among the intake for the Teach.Maths NOW scholarship in 2020. Of those, all but one dropped out of the program “citing a number of reasons including changes in circumstances during the Covid-19 pandemic”, the government said.

The government said it had made substantial changes to the program, and in 2021, 13 of the 17 industry professionals who signed up for the scholarship remained, but the struggle to attract and keep teachers through Teach.Maths NOW underscores a larger problem.

The NSW Department of Education has warned that a significant shortage of teachers – particularly in subjects such as maths and science – is affecting the quality of students’ learning. But the state government has rejected the claim of the teachers’ union that inadequate salaries are leading to declining enrolments in education degrees and an increase in the number of teachers leaving the profession.

That’s set the stage for the first teachers’ strike in almost a decade on Tuesday. Staff will defy an order from the Industrial Relations Commission and walk off the job as part of a campaign to see wages increase by 5% with an extra 2.5% to recognise experience.

The government has offered a 2.5% pay increase in line with its longstanding cap on wages for public servants and has rejected the argument that the department’s staff issues are related to pay.

The education minister, Sarah Mitchell, said: “It is unfortunate but not surprising the [NSW Teachers] Federation continues to attack a staffing strategy, informed by credible research, which seeks to build a sustainable pipeline of quality teachers through various initiatives including increasing pay and financial incentives.”

“At no point has the federation engaged in any proactive conversations on how to improve staffing in hard-to-staff regional areas.

“Arguing that the only way to attract more people to teaching is a pay increase wilfully ignores the complexities of the modern profession and genuine independent research on the issue.”




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