Monday, April 10, 2023

The social housing bandaid

A prominent architect, Tone Wheeler, advocates more social housing below. It's a pity he is not an economist or a sociologist, in which case he would not have such tunnel vision. What he overlooks is that social housing is mainly a bandaid placed on a sore that governments at all levels have created.

Even poor people have some money, even if only from Centerlink, and many Centerlink clients are satisfactorily housed on that income, even if it's only by living a frugal life and living in boarding houses. So how come there is any need for "social" (charity) housing?

In part it is because some people are feckless at managing their money and the taxpayer is expected to rescue them from their folly. But more often it's because commercially available housing is just so expensive and therefore very difficult to for a family to afford. And that comes down to one thing: supply.

In a market economy there would be much more housing available -- with its attendant lower prices. They are high now because of the restrictions that all levels of government place on new housing. There have always been NIMBYs pushing local government to prevent the release of land for new housing and now we have very expensive new requirements that new builds be "green" in various ways. And it goes on.

So an intelligent advocate of more housing would be attacking the restrictions on building it rather than the old, old and quite insatiable cry of begging for more government handouts

The Commonwealth lost interest in public housing, which fell to 5 per cent of all dwellings in the late 1990s.

After the millennium, privatisation of public housing took off. Existing low-scale projects were sold for redevelopment at higher densities. In return, developers were compelled to set aside a percentage of new dwellings, about 15 per cent, for social and affordable housing. Public housing was rebadged, run by community housing providers, not governments.

The Berejiklian government took to it with alacrity, selling off the public housing at Millers Point, together with the 1980s purpose-built Sirius apartments. Social housing numbers often failed to increase, or even match, the public housing that had been lost, which falls to just 4 per cent of the dwelling stock now.

Today’s rising property values, falling home ownership and greater wage disparity sees 10 per cent of all households seeking social and affordable housing. That’s more than three times the social dwellings currently available. State Labor governments all have plans with various levels of ambition, but most are starved of funds, and want a better-funded CSHA, intensifying the current housing policy debate.

Federal Labor has responded with the Housing Australia Future Fund, where dividends will pay for 30,000 new social dwellings over five years. The need, according to the Greens and many housing demographers, is more like 50,000 each year for 20 years, a tall order when we build less than 100,000 per year now.

The federal government is crying poor: with a very low tax/GDP ratio it lacks income to address the accumulated debt and demands for the NDIS, defence and submarines.

Anthony Albanese tells the story of his upbringing with a single mum on welfare in public housing, but in denying funding for those social programs for current battlers it seems social housing is not a priority for the federal Labor Party. Instead, it invents a defective magic pudding, and puts an inexperienced minister – Julie Collins – in charge of it.

More than 120 years of governments advocating for middle-class home ownership, rather than public housing, has finally caught up with us. A bold vision, supported by funding, is needed, or we’ll have yet another public housing policy failure, this one of epic proportions.


Voice 'a power grab by elites, academics': Mundine

image from

No campaign leader Warren Mundine has expressed his support for opposition leader Peter Dutton, describing the voice as a “power grab” by “elites and academics” that would not make a difference to the lives of many Indigenous people.

Mr Mundine said he opposed the model for an Indigenous voice to parliament put forward by Anthony Albanese, saying that the priority should be to improve outcomes for disadvantaged Indigenous communities.

“We’ve been always pushing for regional and local outcomes, that is where the real issues are,” he told Sky News. More

“We saw Laverton, Ceduna and Alice Springs all those other places you can’t fix that from Canberra you have to fix that on the ground in those communities.“And we know democracy is the best way to do that… property ownership, freedom of speech and everything like that.” Mr Mundine said the Liberal Party could not support the voice in its current state, ramping up his criticism of the proposed model. “The way this voice is set up, the Coalition couldn't just support it,” he said.“It is a disaster, it is a power grab by a group of elites and academics, and I was very pleased to hear that and very pleased to support it.


UQ scientists discover special crab to fix Great Barrier Reef coral destruction

image from

Queensland scientists have made a landmark discovery that could save the Great Barrier Reef from its most dangerous coral predators – the crown-of-thorns starfish.

The deadly starfish can devour up to 90 per cent of living coral tissue, and has contributed to an estimated 40 per cent of coral loss on the reef.

Scientists from the University of Queensland have now found a special species of crab which can eat the crown-of-thorns starfish (COTS) before it reaches adulthood and begins feasting on the endangered coral habitat.

A team of biological scientists from the University of Queensland including researcher Amelia Desbiens, tested more than 100 species of crab, shrimp, worm, snail and small fish to see which creatures were potential COTS predators.

To their surprise, they discovered the red decorator crab had an impressive appetite for COTS. “You can’t imagine our excitement, we were beyond stoked,” Ms Desbiens said.

“We cast a wide net and to find such a voracious predator – each red decorator crab devoured more than five COTS per day while most other species barely ate a single one.

“It’s one of the best predators of COTS we’ve seen and could be a natural buffer against future outbreaks on the reef.”

Prior to the red decorator crab revelation, scientists held little knowledge of which COTS predators were most effective, with few animals able to eat adult COTS due to their ability to defend themselves with their toxic spines.

The new discovery is expected to help scientists rebalance the Great Barrier Reef’s natural predator ecosystem, with the crab able to effectively limit COTS mass-reproduction and population outbreaks.

“There’s already an extensive COTS culling program along the barrier reef and I can see this research fitting into the program ... which is really exciting,” Ms Desbiens said.

“The reef has already faced a lot of stress for climate induced issues, hopefully culling can provide a bit of relief from those other stresses.

“The next step is to look for the predators across other (reef) locations further than Heron Island and start searching for these crabs in places where the COTS outbreaks have been a real problem. Redirect our attention to more vulnerable areas.”

UQ senior research author Dr Kenny Wolfe agreed, saying scientists were now “on the right path” to addressing the COTS outbreaks along the severely damaged coral reef.

“We’d like to conduct broader surveys on the Great Barrier Reef across areas with and without outbreaks to evaluate whether the presence of this crab can help predict the chance of COTS gaining a foothold,” Dr Wolfe said.

“This preliminary study sets us on the right path to resolving the role naturally existing predators could play in controlling COTS outbreaks.”


Conservatives need to fight back

The ‘left’ – and by this term I mean Labor, Teals, the moderates of the Liberal and National parties, as well as our loony-far-left Green friends – are very, very good at shaping public opinion.

So good that the ‘right’ in Australia are a minority reduced to a few brave souls still willing to stick their heads above the parapet and take a verbal bullet or two for the liberty of the nation. Thankfully only metaphorically, for now.

As I write this, the Queensland state government is trumpeting its Orwellian ‘hate crime’ laws banning the display of ‘hate symbols’ and jacking-up jail time for crimes that are ‘motivated by hatred or serious contempt’.

Sounds great, until you realise that the definition of ‘hate’ is totally subjective. Precisely whose definition of ‘hate’ will apply?

Professor James Allan of University of Queensland Law School, and a regular scribe for this publication, noted at a public event in Brisbane recently that UQ Law is widely regarded as ‘Australia’s most conservative’ institution for shaping the minds of our future judiciary.

He then immediately noted that only a handful of the school’s 40-or-so faculty could be regarded as ‘not being Labor or Green voters’. The point sent shivers down the spines of the libertarian and conservative crowd – if you think our judiciary is trending ‘Woke’ now, give it another 20 years and a jail cell may await anyone whose views tend right of Daniel Andrews. Better clean up those Facebook posts, or the cops will be cuffing you in your pyjamas in front of your kids in no time.

‘But what do we dooooooo?’ one earnest soldier in the crowd – her despair palpable – inquired.

‘Speak up,’ Allan replied.

Easier said than done if you want to keep putting food on the table in modern Australia. Speaking up about conservative positions on matters of identity can cost you your job and your reputation.

Even positions that were once considered moderately centre-right, such as expressing the view that if you were born with a penis you’re a man and no surgery or drugs can change that fundamental biological fact, are taboo in modern corporate and government Australia.

Refusing to participate in ‘forced expression’, such as not wanting to don a rainbow jersey for your team’s football match during pride week, may be career-ending. That’s ‘passive hate’ or a ‘microaggression’ against a ‘marginalised group’. Never mind the ones doing the objecting being hated and marginalised.

The left have so much control over the language nowadays that writing without lots of quotation marks has become impossible for those of us who don’t want to buy into their bizarre worldview.

It’ll be interesting to watch the anti-trans feminist movement as it tackles these new ‘hate speech’ laws. As a group that predominantly sits on the left, I’ll greatly enjoy seeing how they cope being on the other side of the intolerant violence of their fellow social justice warriors. Men tend to do fast physical violence, women tend to do slow tortuous reputational violence (yes, I’m stereotyping a bit) so I guess we are in for an unholy mix-up of the two.

Conservatives will need to be a lot smarter if they’re going to win this war. And it is a culture war. Forget the gaslighting of the left arguing, ‘What are you all so upset about, you crazy right-wing nut-jobs?!’ That’s just part of the strategy. Leaving us periodically all wondering, ‘Am I the crazy one?’ and whether we are one step away from alfoil headwear, is precisely the confused state of frustration and hopelessness they want us in.

We need to be courageous. We need to discover bravery. We need to be covert. Not everyone has to be as stupid as to start a national podcast and TV show and stick their head out as far as I am (yes, this is an unsubtle plug for the return of my weekly news commentary show The Other Side on ADH TV from April 14).

I’m past my prime and nobody in mainstream media wants to hire me anyway. But there are ways to play with the system and its massive contradictions and hypocrisy.

One is to start turning the language and games of the left back on them at work or school: ‘I’m having trouble feeling safe here. I’m part Persian and my conservative Zoroastrian father has strict views about homosexuality that make it very triggering and traumatic to have to see a rainbow pride poster every time I step into the coffee room – do you think we could take it down?’ That’ll suck up hundreds of dollars of staff time as the 20-somethings in HR try to remove the pain in their brain and solve your issue without offending anyone. If enough of us do it, every single day, maybe shareholders will start to notice the real cost of their feel-good ESG and DEI cult worship?

I exaggerate. But you get my drift. Have some fun. Be a bit of a nuisance. Use the Art of War technique of turning the enemy’s weapons back on them. And laugh. A lot. It’ll keep you both healthy and sane.

But we do suck at shaping the culture. And we simply can’t afford to stay silent any longer. A thorough web search and a call to the Queensland Opposition media office hasn’t yielded any media response to the government’s hate crime announcement (as at 3pm Friday). The Liberal-Nationals have completely – and very deliberately – checked out of the culture war. It’s a strategy that’s working superbly for them, don’t you think?




No comments: