On Saturday night, barring the biggest rebuff since opinion polls got it wrong with Donald Trump’s election as US president, Australia will have a new Labor government promising to end the instability that has permeated Canberra since the departure of John Howard from the top job more than a decade ago.
Any Labor government of Bill Shorten will follow in the footsteps of every left-wing administration in the history of Australia, indeed the world, by embarking on the implementation of policies to redistribute wealth to enhance the livelihoods and lifestyles of those deemed less fortunate.
It’s what Labor government do and every seasoned voter will be too well attuned to the expected policy direction. Some fear from experience that the cost could be high, too high for the economy to sustain rapid-fire spending bolstered by a raft of either new taxes, or those fees and charges governments tells us are not really taxes but are.
But not all new “socialist initiatives” on the table should Bill Shorten make it to a three-year rent-free occupancy of the Lodge are his and Labor’s alone.
Still setting a future agenda as the spotlight apparently fades on the final performance of a Coalition government that has been bitterly divided in a most shattering and spectacular fashion not recorded by the right of politics since the dysfunctional final days of the United Australia Party in World War II – no not Clive Palmer’s cheap (although expensive in money terms) twenty-first century version – when even Billy Hughes had one last taste of leadership glory.
The weekend policy announcement by Scott Morrison of government footing up to 75 per cent of home loan deposits may well have elicited cheers from property developers and selfish millennials but it’s an absolute whack in the face for tail-end baby-boomers who have made sacrifices over the past two or three decades and are left with mortgages small enough to still cause discomfort when framing the weekly family budget.
These are voters, the mums and dads once referred to as Howard’s Battlers. People now forgotten as the Liberals, desperate to sandbag and salvage what they can of their brand will embrace any thought bubble offering a slim chance of preserving a credible base from which to erect a strong opposition and a visionary alternative government at the next election.
Labor quickly matched the Liberal National Coalition commitment meaning the lottery for handouts to 10,000 first-home buyers will be on quicker than cross-bench senators can disrupt a legislative agenda.
Real Estate Institute of Victoria chief executive Gil King was almost as quick to embrace the shared charitable generosity of political foes, saying the policy would make it easier for young buyers to break into the market.
“We expect it will have a positive impact on the property market as young people and long-term renters are further incentivised to buy their first home,” Mr King said.
“House prices have soared 27.8 per cent in metropolitan Melbourne in the past five years and in regional Victoria that figure is 26 per cent. These huge rises coupled with banks’ tighter lending standards and our increasing cost of living has made it difficult for first-home buyers to save a deposit for their first home.”
It can difficult for any young person aspiring to put their first step on the home-owning ladder and even more confronting in the big cities of Sydney and Melbourne.
But is quasi-public housing the answer or purely an admission that policy needs a major reset and a cultural change is required to engulf new generations of aspirational first-home buyers living life to the fullest without acknowledging the lifestyle adjustment that comes with paying off a mortgage?
History is clear since World War I that there has been a preoccupation by government with investment in jobs, services and facilities in the capital cities to the detriment and decline of rural and regional areas of Australia.
We have many in today’s generations without knowledge, understanding or empathy for life outside the Eastern seaboard big cities. The big smoke has become a fertile recruiting ground for social engineering warriors running rampant and causing disruptions on farms, condemning a way of life and risking livelihoods of people possessing the characteristics that allowed earlier generations to forge ahead.
Australian politics needs policies that will positively lure those who may have membership of Club UberEats – I want my cake, I want it now and I’ll upsize it too for no extra cost – to temper their aspirations until the foundations are in place. The first-home buyer lottery policy has probably ruined some chance of that happening.
And there is an even greater future risk with the shared policy of Scott Morrison and Bill Shorten. What if after a generous 15 per cent handout for the cost of that first home, the lottery winners are crippled by mortgage stress?
Something is saying the “winners” could still end up the “losers”.
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