Dear Joe Hockey,
I don’t expect that you’ll read this, which I totally understand. I mean, you’ve probably got a few other things on your mind right now. Like passing a Budget through the senate and that small matter of 23 million Australian’s economic wellbeing resting on your shoulders.
At least, I hope that’s the reason you would casually tell aspiring home owners to just “get a good job that pays good money”. I mean, (slaps forehead) why didn’t we all just think of that before?
Now this letter isn’t about the whole “good job” debate because we all know some of our society’s most valued jobs are carers or teachers or paramedics, and that while they are “good jobs”, they just don’t pay “good” wages. Not the wages you’re talking about, anyway. No, we won’t go into that. I’m sure you’ve heard enough about the definition of a ‘good job‘ over the last few days.
I don't even want to talk about your remark that if housing wasn't still affordable "no one would be buying it". Because that would be like saying if a Ferrari wasn't affordable, no one would be them buying it right? And that would just sound out of touch and privileged. Also, I don't want to imagine a world in which we live that the Treasurer of Australia really believes that.
No, I really just want to tell you one thing. We want to feel in control.
That's the reason Australians aspire to buy their own "castle". We've been told that if we work hard enough, if we save and just try hard, we'll be rewarded with the great Aussie Dream - and the power that comes with having a place to call our own.
I don't write this letter as a home owner. I was once, up until about a year ago but now I'm on the other side of the fence. I'm a renter. It's a foreign situation to me. It's one I doubt you will ever find yourself in again and this is why it must be hard for you to understand the central problem with what you said.
Owner occupiers, unlike investors, don't choose a home purely for financial gain. When we dream the big Aussie dream, one that up until not so long ago was quite an attainable one, we really just want a place to call home and more importantly, security. We don't want to feel powerless - the feeling that comes with renting a home the landlord can sell from underneath you in a heartbeat. The instability and anxiety of not knowing where we will be in six months is the real reason we squirrel away as much as we can and dream about owning a patch of Aussie grass.
So why don't we just go out and do it then? Well, because it's no longer a level playing field and this is what we wish you would understand each time you deny housing market is over-inflated.
I'm not going to pretend to understand the complexities of the market in the same way I assume you do (or should). I can however, understand some very basic statistics. So I'm going to throw a few quick ones at you.
Around 20 years ago, in the early 1990s, owner-occupiers accounted for 84 per cent of all homes sold in Australia. Investors, 16 per cent.