With less than three weeks to go until Treasurer Scott Morrison hands down his 2017 Budget, the signs that he will deliver a much-needed and long-overdue conservative approach to the nation’s finances are not promising. It was imperative that by now – in fact, by many months ago – the groundwork be well and truly laid for extensive cuts to welfare and excessive public service spending. Instead, we have had another phony war (reminiscent of 2016’s GST debacle) about an imaginary panacea to the mythical problem of ‘housing affordability’.
Depressingly, yet again the Coalition government has walked straight into the trap laid for them by the Left, in which, rather than refuting a non-existent problem dreamed up in the bowels of the ABC by Labor and Greens socialists, they pander to it. Worse, in suggesting that the federal or indeed state governments can magically ‘solve’ this ‘crisis’, they undermine the very principles of the free market, thrift, enterprise and hard work that Liberals are supposed to believe in.
There is no housing ‘affordability’ crisis. Rather, there are two strands of inner-city thinking that have conveniently intertwined to create a so-called social justice problem seized on by the Left. These twin ideals are a passion for the easy inner-city ‘latte’ lifestyle combined with a loathing of working class suburbia and its traditional, aspirational values of reward for hard work.
The majority of Greens/Labor voters dwell in recently-gentrified inner-city areas of our major cities, where they are surrounded by like-minded ‘progressives’, many living on the public purse, as well as easy access to a wide range of lifestyle choices from trendy restaurants, bars and cafes to galleries and designer shops. Because the drudgery of renovating what were historically not much more than slum areas was done by previous generations, often with their own blood, sweat and tears, today’s ‘millenials’ have deluded themselves that the subsequent rise in the value of properties is in some way the fault of the government, of greedy developers, of the Chinese, or of sinister ‘investors’. Whereas in reality, the ‘blame’ for the rise in property prices is simply a function of a buoyant free market, and we tinker with its forces at our peril. Any realist can point to suburbs within not much more than an hour’s commute from all our CBDs where housing is perfectly available and affordable. We are blessed with a plethora of delightful rural towns. It’s just that the hipsters wouldn’t be seen dead in such places, if they even know they exist.
Today’s luvvies would, of course, never think of undertaking similar sacrifices to those of earlier generations. They would never dream of heading out into such poor or depressed suburbs, where the only ‘smashed avocado’ is the one that fell off the back of a delivery truck. As for actually gentrifying run-down areas for themselves, they have neither the inclination nor the inspiration. Rather, Generation Lazy demand governments lower the value of the houses in those areas they would like to live in, regardless of the impact upon those who put in the hard yards to create such environments in the first place.
The end result of this undergraduate fantasy is a Liberal Party treasurer and PM hinting at intervene via budgetary means in order to reduce the worth of people’s home. This follows on the footsteps of last year’s disastrous decision to reduce the superannuation amounts of self-funded retirees.
As usual, the Coalition government looks like it will shirk the major responsibility of this year’s Budget, which is to seriously slash spending across all areas of government. (We particularly admire Pauline Hanson’s threat to vote down Budget measures unless the ABC has its budget reduced.) The only way governments can improve housing ‘affordability’ is to provide more efficient means of commuting and by making available more land for investors and developers to keep pace with population growth. Or cut immigration. The rest is a quasi-socialist con job that will end in tears.
The snap UK general election called by Theresa May came as a shock to Australians as much as to Brits. Yet it neatly fits in with the British prime minister’s ‘Iron Lady’ image – her determination to fight hard for what she has committed to achieve.
Needless to say, the contrast with our own political leadershop is stark. It is inconceivable that Malcolm Turnbull would risk calling a snap election on, say, repealing 18C, scrapping renewable energy targets, or savage Budget cuts. More’s the pity.
He might actually win.
Subscribe to The Spectator Australia today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator Australia for less – just $20 for 10 issues