Thursday, April 28, 2022

Housing: The election issue no one wants to talk about ahead of Federal election

There is a good reason why the parties do little about this. Governments are the cause of the problem, not the solution. Get government out of housing and the problem would largely vanish.

Both to buy and to rent housing is costly because the supply is legislatively restricted. Landlord and tenant laws keep investors out of rental housing provision and land use restrictions -- "zoning" -- limit how many houses can be built.

A shocking number of the most vulnerable Australians are being left out in the cold by both major parties this election, new figures reveal.

While wages have remained close to stagnant for more than a decade, rental prices in every corner of the country have climbed at an increasingly rapid rate.

The annual housing affordability survey by Anglicare found that for most low-income earners and those on welfare finding suitable housing was almost impossible.

By taking a snapshot of 45,992 rental listings from one weekend in March this year, the study found just 720 – or roughly 2 per cent – were considered affordable for someone earning a full-time minimum wage of $772.60 per week.

Those on the age pension could afford just 1 per cent of listed dwellings and for someone on a disability support pension, youth allowance or JobSeeker, the figure dropped down to zero per cent.

Affordability was measured by a person paying less than 30 per cent of their salary on rent, a long-established metric beyond which financial stress can be expected.

Some of those on higher payments could consider share housing as an affordable option; however, this may be unsuitable, particularly for older Australians.

For those on youth allowance, even a share house was above their affordability threshold.

One JobSeeker recipient from Wollongong in NSW told Anglicare that they received $580 per fortnight in payments but were paying $520 each fortnight in rent – leaving just $60 for all other expenses.

“I can‘t buy phone credit, I can’t pay my internet bill, I can’t buy money to put on my travel card. There’s just no way to stretch it to cover everything,” they said.

The report found there was not a single affordable rental or share house option for a person on JobSeeker in the Illawarra region.

With 950,000 people on JobSeeker and other unemployment payments, advocates say the issue should be front and centre of this year’s election.

“We keep hearing that this election is about living costs, but housing is the biggest cost facing Australians,” Anglicare Australia executive director Kasy Chambers said.

“Voters are desperate for action. Instead, parties are promising more of the same. At best they are offering grants that overheat the market. At worst they ignore the problem,” Ms Chambers added.

Both major parties have largely shied away from even mentioning housing affordability in the early weeks of the campaign.

Scott Morrison received a swift backlash for suggesting in one interview the best way to help renters was for them to buy a house through the Coalition’s expanded first-home buyers’ support scheme.

The government's plan to relieve housing stress also includes an additional $2bn in low-cost financing aimed at delivering 29,000 more homes through the National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation (NHFIC).

Since 2018, the scheme that the Prime Minister devised during his time as treasurer has helped create around 15,000 social and affordable homes through loans to community housing providers.

Labor says it will establish a $10bn Housing Australia Future Fund to deliver 30,000 new social and affordable homes over the next five years, also through the NHFIC.

The Greens revealed that as well as committing $21bn towards building new dwellings they would remove tax breaks for those with two or more investment properties.

Ms Chambers said the situation called for 500,000 new social and affordable rentals across Australia, saying investing in housing is the “most powerful” way to make the market more affordable.

Australian Council of Social Service chief executive Dr Cassandra Goldie said she would also like to see JobSeeker payments increased on top of “a substantial boost to social and affordable housing stock and reforms to tax settings like negative gearing and the capital gains discount to address its structural causes”.

“People on low incomes are caught in crushing pincer movement of rising rents and stagnant incomes. They have long been priced out of major cities and, increasingly, from many regional areas,” she said.

“Without major housing policy changes, this situation is likely to continue to deteriorate.”


New generation of '10-pound Poms' as Australia lures British and Irish backpackers with bargain basement $17 FLIGHTS

An Australian state is so desperate for workers that it's offering bargain basement $17.60 (£10) fares to entice British backpackers to come Down Under.

The South Australian scheme is a modern twist on the post-war '10-pound Pom' scheme and will see Irish travellers get even cheaper trips to Australia costing just €10, or $14.90.

The move comes as the battle for backpackers heats up due to worker shortages across the country.

The scheme is an updated version of the program that brought migrants from the United Kingdom - including future pop stars and prime ministers - to Australia in the decades after World War II until 1982.

That plan saw 1.5 million British and Irish people travel Down Under for just £10, but there are some major differences today in price, transport and availability.

The £10 of 1945 is the equivalent of £460 ($810) in 2022, so today's £10 is vastly cheaper.

It's also more comfortable now, with backpackers taking a 24-hour flight rather than a six-week boat journey.

But the availability is a lot tighter. Just 200 lucky travellers will be chosen for the £10 flights.

In a bid to 'populate or perish', Australia initiated the Assisted Passage Migration Scheme in 1945.

These people became known as '10-pound Poms' after the price of the transport by ship to Australia.

The scheme lasted until 1982 and saw 1.5million British and Irish people move to Australia.

Two of the most famous people to arrive Down Under that way were former prime ministers Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott, who both migrated with their families in the 1960s.

South Australia has always played second fiddle to the eastern states of Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland when it comes to attracting migrants.

Backpackers, in particular, are far more likely to fly into cosmopolitan Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane than South Australia's capital Adelaide - which has the well earned but not very exciting nickname 'the city of churches'.

Starting in May, young British and Irish people will be able to buy flights out of Heathrow, Manchester, Edinburgh or Dublin to Adelaide from Qatar Airways.

Those interested must be eligible to get a working holiday visa for Australia and be able to travel before September 30.

'South Australia is welcoming the return of working holiday makers – it's a real win-win for young people eager to travel and work abroad, and for our local tourism industry,' said South Australian Minister for Tourism Zoe Bettison.

She said tourism operators have missed having international visitors due to Covid restrictions over the past two years, while the state has also missed out on the backpacker workforce and 'the vibrancy they bring'.

'These backpackers foster a love for our state and our country which often inspires them to return later in life.

'Whether it's in our bars, restaurants, wineries and hotels, or on our outback stations and farms, there are so many ways that British and Irish citizens can work in Adelaide and in regional South Australia,' said Ms Bettison.

'We look forward to welcoming back young people from the UK and Ireland, and encourage them to make the most of these £10 fares.'


Young Queenslanders take Clive’s coal company to court, arguing ‘devastating’ consequences of mine

Clive Palmer’s Galilee Coal Project could be the biggest thermal coal mine in Australia and produce almost four times that of the Adani mine, the Queensland Land Court has heard as a landmark climate and human rights challenge kicked off on Tuesday.

Youth Verdict, a coalition of young Queenslanders, and environmental conservation group The BimbleBox Alliance is challenging Waratah Coal in court over the project proposed on the Galilee Basin west of Emerald.

The groups will argue that burning coal from the mine will impact the cultural rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people by further contributing to adverse climate change.

It’s the first time a coal mine has been challenged on the grounds of human rights violations in Australia.

Barrister Peter Ambrose, for Waratah Coal, in his opening statement said Waratah’s coal was high-energy producing, meaning less high rate coal needed to be burned to produce the same amount of energy as other coal.

He said coal experts agreed that Waratah Coal had the potential to displace coal that already existed on the market.

“Coal market experts also agree that if the applicant’s coal is not brought to market, coal from other sources will continue to supply the market as long as that market exists,” Mr Ambrose said.

“And it’s that last position that the experts are apart on- how long that market will exist.

“That is in our case, there will be no reduction in greenhouse gas emissions if Waratah Coal is not brought to market.”

Mr Ambrose acknowledged that climate change was real and said the world would face the impacts unless action was taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

He said Waratah Coal would take more reasonable measure to reduce its Scope 1 and 2 emissions, and look to “preferably” sell its coal to generators who “look to become” carbon neutral.

Barrister Saul Holt, for Youth Verdict and The BimbleBox Alliance, told the court he understood the proposed mine would contribute more than 2.159 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

“ … easily the largest thermal coal mine operating in Australia from when it starts, and almost four times bigger than Adani is currently proposed to produce,” Mr Holt said.

“The burning of that coal will accrue with other carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and so will cause, necessarily as a matter of physical process, environmental harm …”

Mr Holt argued underground mining through the Bimblebox Nature Refuge would have “devastating” impacts, including the loss of control by current custodians.

He said President Fleur Kingham of the Land Court of Queensland was being asked to unlock carbon dioxide in the earth into the atmosphere, by way of approving the coal mine.

He said the subsequent limitations on rights would include the right to life, cultural rights, and children and young people.

Mr Ambrose argued Waratah Coal’s evidence would show there would be no increase in adverse climate change effects if the coal entered the market.

“It follows, at least in Waratahs case, that there will be no infringement on any Queenslanders' human rights,” he said.

Mr Ambrose argued that changed plans for the mine, to be underground rather than open cut, meant there would be fewer adverse environmental impacts around the Bimblebox Nature Refuge.

The court also heard brief openings from the Department of Environment and Science, and active objector John Brinnand, before Mr Holt began questioning Waratah Coal managing director Nui Harris.

Mr Holt asked Mr Harris if he was familiar with the International Energy Agency’s position regarding whether new coal mines could be approved if they were to reach net zero emissions by 2050.

Mr Harris conceded he didn’t know any details around the agency’s position.

He was also asked if Waratah Coal’s parent company Mineralogy, controlled by Clive Palmer, would create delays by shifting resources from the Galilee project to another, as Mr Harris accepted had previously occurred.

“That’s a business decision isn’t it? That’s his decision,” Mr Harris said.

He said it was beyond his scope why Mr Palmer would have a parent company to Waratah Coal based in Singapore.

Judge Kingham said Mr Harris would continue answering questions on Wednesday and advised him to have a close look at documents his team had tendered to the court.

Outside court, co-director of Youth Verdict and First Nations campaign lead Murrawah Johnson said she was glad to finally have their day in court.

“We trust in our legal team but also our First Nations’ witnesses’ evidence is just amazing and we really hope that the court can see the importance of the cultural aspects that our witnesses put forward in their evidence,” Ms Johnson said.

The hearing is expected to span several weeks and include a range of experts.


Net Zero is dead

As this magazine argued early last year, the simplest way for the Coalition to win the 2022 election would have been to replicate John Howard’s and Peter Costello’s ‘tough decision’ GST strategy and in the interest of national prosperity and cleaner energy go to the polls with a commitment to revoke the Australian ban on nuclear energy in order to give us the cheap, reliable energy we will require for decades to come and with which we are abundantly blessed via natural resources. Such a policy would not only have given the Coalition something to fight for, it would have been the ultimate ‘wedge policy’ to skewer Labor on and – not that this seems to matter anymore – would actually have been the right thing to do.

Instead, Scott Morrison and his team of quislings, sorry advisers, asked the wrong questions in a motley grab-bag of inner-city focus groups and came up with the worthless and pointless policy of pledging to get Australia to Net Zero without nuclear power. Or indeed without any credible clean base-load energy source. (And please, spare us the Twiggy Forrest/ Mike Cannon-Brookes drivel about green hydrogen. Only the most cynical, corrupt or foolish politician would gamble an entire nation’s future on such an unproven and illogical technology spruiked by billionaire investors.)

All of which is now fairly academic because, as is always the way, events (dear boy) have overtaken political hypotheticals.

Vladimir Putin’s vile invasion of Ukraine has not only killed a tragic number of Ukrainians as well as Russian soldiers, it has also stabbed a bayonet through the heart of Net Zero with all the murderous efficiency of a Zaporozhian Cossack.

European governments like Germany’s, which for the last few decades have pursued the climate cult’s insane goal of obliterating carbon emissions, are now frantically re-opening coal mines and seeking reliable base load energy sources wherever they can find them, whether from fossil fuels or nuclear power. Countries in Scandinavia are suddenly desperate to start exploration and drilling in the North Sea again.

According to Benny Peiser, head of the Global Warming Policy Foundation who is currently visiting Australia and who along with Professor Ian Plimer (another regular and popular contributor to these pages) spoke at length to the Roseville branch of the Liberal party, average household electricity prices in the UK have jumped from a thousand pounds a year to two thousand and are headed for three thousand pounds per annum by this coming British winter. Mr Peiser forecasts many individuals and families will simply not be able to heat their homes.

Among British conservative backbenchers there is now a serious push to abandon Net Zero altogether. In the coming months, as war in Ukraine drags on and the energy crisis worsens, the delusional Greens-fuelled commitment to Net Zero may well cost not only Boris Johnson his job, but risks bringing down governments of all hues across Europe.

The task for a re-elected Morrison government, or a minority Coalition government relying on the support of any One Nation, Liberal Democrat or UAP representatives who scrape into the lower house, will be to abandon Net Zero and to rapidly set about promoting a nuclear energy industry in Australia.

The alternative, a Labor/Greens government, does not bear thinking about, but think about it we must. The simple reality is that, much like Joe Biden’s hopeless administration, an Albanese-Marles-Wong-Keneally government (just putting it down in black and white is risible enough) will quickly collapse in popularity as cold hard reality smashes to smithereens their utopian climate fantasies.




No comments: