“We are not racists” – The Guardian Australia

Having to argue that “I’m not a racist” is normally a damning indictment. But, I suppose, people should be allowed to complain when those damn foreigners come here and mine our minerals, take our jobs, or buy the housing stock.

Every weekend in Sydney, young Australian couples are turning up at auctions excited at the prospect of finally owning their own home, only to find that other bidders are wealthy foreign buyers with money to burn.

Last year, median house prices in Sydney rose by a crazy 15%, in some suburbs by up to 27%. Cash pouring in from China is one of the principal drivers and this flood of unregulated investment, coupled with other factors driving up Sydney house prices, are slowly changing the city’s social fabric in a way that will be felt for generations to come. Couples planning families can no longer afford to buy in the suburbs where they grew up, where they have built friendship networks or where they work. Forced further and further west and south, they are progressively cut off from their old neighbourhoods.

Watching weekly auctions, one real estate agent from northern Sydney told the Australian Financial Review that some Australians were “sick of going to auctions and being outbid by Chinese buyers paying above the odds.” Anecdotally, the Herald recently reported an auction for a Chatswood apartment at which all 16 registered bidders were ethnic Chinese. At another auction in Eastwood, all 38 registered bidders were Asian, according to the estate agent John McGrath. The property sold for $1m above the reserve price.

So why am I providing publicity to what you’d think is obviously a One Nation pamphlet? Because the author was Professor of Public Ethics Clive Hamilton writing in The Guardian Australia.

The Guardian’s editor has had to issue this statement:

This article generated strong response when published on 18 February 2014, including concern about racist undertones in its original headline “Wealthy Chinese buyers are making Sydney’s housing problem worse”.

The author and Guardian Australia disclaim any racist intent. Both are conscious of Australia’s racist past. Neither believes that legitimate issues for public debate – here, housing affordability – should be avoided simply because the discussion may be viewed through the prism of that past.

However, Guardian Australia accepts that where a reasonable person could infer racism in an adverse reference to any national or ethnic group. Guardian Australia must be especially vigilant to ensure that the evidence underpinning such content is solid. We have concluded that in this instance we were not vigilant enough. With assistance from our engaged readership, we have found that evidence originally cited in this article was not solid enough to support the original headline, which is now amended.

The author acknowledges that he erred in his reporting of Foreign Investment Review Board data. The secondary source on which he relied conflated figures for residential and commercial investment and overstated the increase in investment from China in 2011-12. This has been corrected. The author stands by his basic thesis, which refers to investment over the last two or so years, though he recognises there is as yet no public FIRB data to support it.

Two pieces of anecdotal evidence from real estate agents also appeared to support the original headline, but on closer examination they are not strong enough to do so. The author was not at fault; in the editing process, Guardian Australia itself did not draw sufficiently precise distinctions between references to Asian buyers in the housing market and those who are ethnically Chinese. Nor did we distinguish properly between ethnically Chinese buyers from abroad and those ethnically Chinese buyers who are local and may, of course, be several-generations Australian. The amended article paraphrases more precisely what the estate agents were reported by other media to have observed.

As various contributors to the comment thread for this article show, the causes of fluctuations in housing prices are several and varied. Foreign buyers, and among them Chinese investors, may be a greater or lesser cause from time to time. Guardian Australia has concluded that, on the evidence presented, it was wrong to imply through the original headline that wealthy Chinese buyers are disproportionately a factor compared to any other national or ethnic group.

The author stands by his opinion, as he is entitled to. Guardian Australia believes it must correct the evidence base underpinning that opinion and label it less emphatically in order to give readers assistance in weighing it and to avoid any inference of racism.

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83 Responses to “We are not racists” – The Guardian Australia

  1. lem

    Well, Sinclair, you know it’s only a small step from Socialist to National Socialist. LOL.

  2. JohnA

    Richard Milhouse Nicon: “Iam NOT a crook!”

  3. That reads very like it was written about an hour after someone in a large black car and wearing an impeccable suit (with “Made in Beijing” on the tag) had a very quiet word in the ear of the editor.

  4. Leo G

    The Guardian editor doesn’t seem to differentiate racism and racial discrimination.

  5. Robert Blair

    The median house price in my street is well over the $1 million mark.

    Every single residential sale for the last few years has gone to Asian buyers. Only one was actually from China though. Two of the others were born in Australia, parents from Singapore.

    BTW the poorest people in my street were Chinese citizens (here on some kind of visa). They had the rental across the street, owned by a couple of old biddies who charged them only 240 a week, where the place can easily get 800 plus. In the end the marriage failed and he went back to China …

    They were very good tenants – hope like hell the new ones are as good. Maybe one morning I will wake up and see a small file of burkha’s heading out the door to go shopping.

  6. Rabz

    Of course, nor are leftists being racist lunatics when they seek to demonise our closest northern neighbour.

  7. Leigh Lowe

    Anecdotally, the Herald recently reported an auction for a Chatswood apartment at which all 16 registered bidders were ethnic Chinese.

    So what is it?
    An anecdote or a verified news report?
    Or is there any difference at “burnt hands” Fairfax and the ABC any more?

  8. gabrianga

    The ‘Guardian”? The major source of Senator Carr’s questions in yesterday’s Senate Estimates debacle.?

    I think at least four of his questions were prefaced by “as reported in the Guardian”.

    Return of the aNiMaLS ? link

  9. Ant

    I can prove I’m not a racist.

    Allow me to demonstrate:

    1.) I have nothing but contempt for Barack Obama. I really do.
    He is a disaster on practically all levels imaginable for the USA, and to a large degree at a global level, too. He is incompetent, lazy, imperial in mindset, oblivious to the harm and damage he creates, exploitative of his own race for political power and privilege and, to cap it off, he managed to weasel his way to the presidency on a magic carpet ride of affirmative action, ruthless politicking and with the overwhelming blarring of a ideological slobbering leftist media singalong.

    2.) I love Allen West. I really do. And Ted Cruz.
    If the US is ever fortunate enough to have him (or TC) serve as POTUS, I have some trouble containing my emotion.

  10. Leigh Lowe

    …. that some Australians were “sick of going to auctions and being outbid by Chinese buyers paying above the odds.” …. At another auction in Eastwood, all 38 registered bidders were Asian, according to the estate agent John McGrath. The property sold for $1m above the reserve price.

    Soooo … if they are paying “over the odds” won’t there be a massive correction coming?
    Sit back and wait.

  11. Leigh Lowe

    There is a similar issue in Melbourne, driven by a different factor. As we know, most Government Schools are shit, but a few are run along private school lines and, naturally, demand for enrolment places outstrips supply. One of those is Glen Waverley Secondary and students have to live “in the zone” to be eligible. Asian buyers take a completely rational approach to this and, when buying a house, factor in the cost avoided by not having to pay school fees at an equivalent private school.

  12. stackja

    Guardian being indistinct.

  13. Max

    The guardian is right in the original story. It’s not race issue it’s a numbers issue. At any given point in time there is roughly 9million dwellings in Australia and with 63million potential buyers that’s 150 buyers that’s 7 buyers for each and every dwelling in the country.

    It’s like everyone in Australia trying to move to Tonga all at the same time and it’s again out national interest.

    Disclosure my house in Sydney is “worth” 1.6 but I really worry abt my kids future. If they have to live at home forever am I really rich?

  14. Bruce of Newcastle

    The horribly racist Canadians recently announced they were scrapping their investors’ visa scheme.

    Perhaps that is why our housing market has become even more popular recently.

    Clive is probably annoyed that the normally squeakily green China is now building a vast CO2 gushing coal-to-liquids capacity.

    Is it possible to have an irony overdose?

  15. Max

    Sorry iPhone posting issues

    9 million dwellings in total
    400k of them for sale at any given point in time
    63 million potential buyers
    =
    150 buyers for each dwelling on sale
    7 buyers for all the dwellings in the country

  16. nic

    The author and Guardian Australia disclaim any racist intent. Both are conscious of Australia’s racist past.

    Yep, it’s those awful forebears, lucky we are wiser and smarter than them /sarc.

    Further to the article, ‘Chinese’ buyers in areas like Chatswood with an established Asian community? Who would have thought?

  17. H B Bear

    Nor did we distinguish properly between ethnically Chinese buyers from abroad and those ethnically Chinese buyers who are local and may, of course, be several-generations Australian.

    Well they do all look the same. And can’t drive very well.

  18. Dan

    Max the potential supply of housing in this country is effectively unlimited to the point where an average suburban property surely should barely appreciate. If the governments didn’t distort the market through planning controls, height controls, sprawl controls, massive tax rates which inevitably lead us to game the system, selective government school admissions, wasteful spending which crowds out constructive infrastructure development, we could accommodate huge demand. I would welcome an abolition of all controls including foreign investment, but in the present circumstances we will indeed be inundated by demand from Asia, and just wait until the Indonesian middle class gets richer.

    And why not when you know the government is effectively gifting you so much paper wealth.
    The last four auctions I have attended in this prestigious suburb were all won by Chinese born families now resident and working in Melbourne (I knew the vendors).

  19. Squirrel

    “The author and Guardian Australia disclaim any racist intent. Both are conscious of Australia’s racist past. Neither believes that legitimate issues for public debate – here, housing affordability – should be avoided simply because the discussion may be viewed through the prism of that past.”

    They should have stopped right there. We have a very serious issue about housing affordability in Australia, and any avoidable and unnecessary factors which are worsening that – to whatever degree, are worthy of public debate.

  20. duncanm

    I’m trying to work out whose the racist-ist amongst this collection
    - is it ‘ol Clive?
    - is it the ethnic Chinese who prefer to buy into an ‘Asian’ neighbourhood, and are willing to pay for it?
    - is it the Anglo’s who feel they are getting pushed out of the market?
    - is it the Anglo’s who won’t buy into an ‘Asian’ neighbourhood.

    I’m sure there’s a white man to blame somewhere.

  21. H B Bear

    The ‘Guardian”? The major source of Senator Carr’s questions in yesterday’s Senate Estimates debacle.?

    I think at least four of his questions were prefaced by “as reported in the Guardian”.

    It was embarrassing wasn’t it.

    I guess after being told by the AMWU what to do all these years Kim Il Carr must be floundering a bit? If you squinted you could have thought you were listening to Le Snore or Mincing Marr on Ol’ Leathery’s Abbott Hour.

  22. Token

    Of course, nor are leftists being racist lunatics when they seek to demonise our closest northern neighbour.

    Typical lefty, only a few short years ago Happy was telling us we should by like China and “suspend” democracy to deal with “glowball warming emergency”.

  23. adrian

    I thought one had to at least be a permanent resident to buy a house or apartment.

  24. rickw

    The nub of the issue remains the Government engineered housing shortage, restriction of land available for development, pointless restrictions on land that can be developed.

    If the supply side was fixed, then the foreign investors would be financing a house construction boom and a cheap rental market, neither of which are a bad thing.

  25. Alex Davidson

    The main player pushing up housing prices is the government itself, through the protection racket they call planning, which has created a wholly artificial shortage and some of the highest urban property prices in the world.

    Of course the Left will never admit to this – belief in big government and planning is their central dogma – so they unceasing raise these sorts of red herrings to try and divert our attention away from the main game.

  26. Squirrel

    “adrian

    #1204835, posted on February 26, 2014 at 1:37 pm

    I thought one had to at least be a permanent resident to buy a house or apartment.”

    Perhaps it’s the exception which proves the rule (or perhaps not):

    http://news.domain.com.au/domain/nonexistent-man-granted-leave-to-buy-598000-house-20130327-2gu0p.html

  27. Rococo Liberal

    Lefties always get in trouble when they have two minorities to defend whose interests clash. The Guardian of course exists mainly to whine on about inequlaity of income. So the rich are always a target no matter what their race. Poor Aussies are being done down by rich people in the property market. However, the fact that the rich bastards are Asian causes a problem, because the Grauniad has to stand against racism (no matter what the facts are).

    hence the mealy louthed apology.

    The Guardian: written by mentally deficient, stupid wankers formentally deficient, stupid wankers

  28. Pickles

    Couples planning families can no longer afford to buy in the suburbs where they grew up, where they have built friendship networks or where they work. Forced further and further west and south, they are progressively cut off from their old neighbourhoods.

    Can’t have the poor dears moving too far from the tit.

  29. Lysander

    If the governments didn’t distort the market through planning controls, height controls, sprawl controls, massive tax rates which inevitably lead us to game the system, selective government school admissions, wasteful spending which crowds out constructive infrastructure development

    But it does.

    And it also distorts the market by Fascist immigration schemes (the proper channels folks) whereby you have to have so much capital at bank, so many kids (without diseases or limitations please), have attained a certain level of education blah blah blah

    I have a good friend who lived a life as a banker in Nth Europe; he can live completely off his own back for he and his family. But do you think Immigration will give him permanent residency? Not at all. Why? He has a down-syndrome son. Bullshit.

  30. twostix

    In 2008 Kevin Rudd and Labor repealed the foreign investment regulations that prevented this scenario after being hysterically warned that the housing bubble was going to pop “imminently”. So instead of presiding over a correction in Australia’s insanely high housing prices he allowed CCP functionaries to purchase established residential homes for their sprogs here to keep demand up.

    Does the Guardian mention that little fact? No. A search for “Rudd” and “Labor” in the article reveals exactly 0 results.

    This problem could also easily be solved by simply repealing masses of green-left softcock regulation which is preventing cheap residential housing developments. But the Guardian are against building new houses as well. So as usual the left fuck everything, take responsibility for nothing then whinge about the inevitable results later.

  31. Jeremy

    The born-in-Australia population is shrinking. At 1.7 children per woman the birth rate is much lower than the 2.3 children per woman required for a stable population , let alone a growing one. The natural result of that would be too many houses for too few people and therefore shrinking house prices. A natural feedback mechanism would cut in allowing young people of child bearing age to get into houses easily, and then feel secure about starting a family. This is frustrated by firstly, one of the highest per capita immigration rates in the world, and secondly the business migration schemes which allows residency to people investing various minimum amounts of money in a business in Australia. One of the easiest businesses to get into is a property investment business. If you live elsewhere, want Australian residency and have sufficient money, this is the way to do it. The effect on Australia of these Government policies is to visit hardship on Australian house purchasers.

  32. Leo G

    I presently live in a Sydney suburb where new and existing property is targeted by foreign buyers.
    A nearby 4 hectare site is under development to provide up to 1000 new apartments in up to 24 buildings. Over the past 4 years, this household has been approached by the agents for Asia-based property investors, and by local developers- including a prominent outlaw motorcycle gang. The representative for the latter- who occupied a nearby property for several years- was subject on one occasion two years ago to an early morning visit from the Middle-east Organised Crime Squad- with battering ram, automatic rifles, shotguns etc.
    A number of properties in the immediate area have been sold to those groups through proxies- often an Asian with Australian residency. Presumably, this is to avoid the ban on the purchase by foreign investors of existing residential property and/or to evade CGT and land tax.
    In many cases, the proxy owners appear to be little more than house sitters. Properties are frequently unoccupied for days at a time, at other times a single occupant, and the face occasionally changes. They get minimal maintenance and no repairs for years at a time- the yards are usually overgrown and strewn with discarded materials.
    Meanwhile adjacent owners are pressed to sell.
    Obviously, this is not the pattern for the whole of Sydney- but nor is it an isolated case.

  33. nic

    All of this may be academic in the next year or so anyway if China’s credit squeeze leads to their property bubble bursting requiring the quick sale of assets, foreign or other.

  34. Tardell G

    The Guardian discovers that “noticing” things is racist.

  35. EB

    Forget the sides for a minute, why is it any time immigration or foreign ownership is raised there’s someone out there ready to shut down the argument ASAP with cries of racism?

    It’s pretty obvious this is beyond “teh left or teh right”.

    The ticket clippers and rent seekers do the best out the cram them in mentality pushed by both major parties. Try an FOI request relating to foreigners buying real estate in Australian and see how many pages are rendered useless by a black marker.

  36. Chris

    I thought one had to at least be a permanent resident to buy a house or apartment.

    Nope! My uncle is neither an Australian citizen or permanent resident (has lived in the UK for most of his life) and bought a new place right on the beach. Spends about a month a year in it to visit relatives here, and for the rest of the time family is welcome to “look after it” :-)

  37. twostix

    Can’t have the poor dears moving too far from the tit.

    Don’t be a sneerer Pickles.

    Australia’s house prices everywhere are utterly obscene, the highest in the entire world in one of the least populated continents in the entire world. This state of affairs should make economic liberals burn with rage. Instead we get this weird situation where some, often older “Liberals” who conveniently hopped on the realestate escalator when it was at or near the bottom when houses were cheap as chips and could be purchased, in a city, by a young mechanic with a wife at home and two children, now stick their fingers up at and smugly sneer at the complaints of the next generation. A generation who have to save up a vastly larger deposit than they ever did (requiring two adults working full time on the average wage), while also losing more of their wealth in the purchase of a house to the government than they themselves ever did, and also now having to compete with millions of people from Asia who now get to buy established houses in Australia.

  38. Token

    Couples planning families can no longer afford to buy in the suburbs where they grew up, where they have built friendship networks or where they work. Forced further and further west and south, they are progressively cut off from their old neighbourhoods.

    This is a lie as it was equally as true when 10 & 20 years ago.

  39. Token

    Australia’s house prices everywhere are utterly obscene, the highest in the entire world in one of the least populated continents in the entire world.

    The problem today is supply controlled by the government.

    When I joined the workforce the problem was the extraordinarily high unemployment level and unbelievable difficulty to get finance. Prices were lower, but only the happy few with secure employment and a track record the banks would allow to lend could buy.

  40. Max

    Agree with everything two sticks said. High prices represent a massive cost to businesses

  41. twostix

    Prices were lower, but only the happy few with secure employment and a track record the banks would allow to lend could buy.

    So exactly as it is now.

    Easy finance vanished in 2008.

  42. Token

    Twostix, employment is infinitely easier to get and you do not understand how restrictive the banks were before the entry of Aussie, Wizard & Rams (especially after the nationalisation of the state banks & ANZ/Westpac nearly went under).

  43. Token

    the nationalisation (to then government Commonwealth Bank)

  44. Woolfe

    I believe that as a small country we should apply reciprocal laws regarding property. If we are able to purchase unencumbered in their country, no problem, if we are not, apply their laws to purchasing in our country.

  45. Shelley

    OT – happen to be home today – watching QT – Julie Bishop is currently speaking and absolutely impressive.

  46. Leigh Lowe

    Couples planning families can no longer afford to buy in the suburbs where they grew up, where they have built friendship networks or where they work. Forced further and further west and south, they are progressively cut off from their old neighbourhoods.

    Let me de-code this …
    “We both took a gap year between school and Uni to travel. I changed courses twice and didn’t finish Uni until I was 24. After a few “career changes” and more travel I finally settled on my current job when I was 29. My partner is still “following her passion as a [insert loopy "career" title here] but it doesn’t bring in much money. Now, at age 35, she is getting “clucky” and we can’t afford a house. Well, we can afford a house, but not a lovely renovated terrace in a desirable, leafy part of goat’s cheese circle. Oh, and we both buy the latest technology every year and we have $15,000 worth of tattoos between us. I just can’t figure where it went wrong”

  47. Combine_Dave

    I thought one had to at least be a permanent resident to buy a house or apartment.

    Nope! My uncle is neither an Australian citizen or permanent resident (has lived in the UK for most of his life) and bought a new place right on the beach. Spends about a month a year in it to visit relatives here, and for the rest of the time family is welcome to “look after

    Careful, if he gets caught out he might need to onsell his property to some real Australians (inclusive of Australian born Chinese).

  48. .

    Maybe Leigh, but in 1973, they could still afford their house in almost any place they desired.

  49. Combine_Dave

    I believe that as a small country we should apply reciprocal laws regarding property. If we are able to purchase unencumbered in their country, no problem, if we are not, apply their laws to purchasing in our country.

    Australia is a huge country with masses of undeveloped land, perhaps getting a few more foreign settlers in the door (of proven quality aka doctors, engineers, IT professinals etc) and a bit more foreign investment would be beneficial.

  50. .

    I agree Dave – your business partner won’t share a pot of coffee with you and is into splodging and self scarification, it doesn’t mean you should or have to either.

  51. james x leftie

    I know a lot of Chinese with stacks of dirty (ie untaxed) US dollars that they need to offload. The Chinese property market is even more blown up than the Australian one, and the govt there has now started a national housing registrar.

    Even if they lose 30% buying a house in Australia, it’s worth it.. the money is out of reach of their government. They are prepared to buy almost anything, and leave it empty for a decade. As long as they offload their savings into bricks and mortar, that’s all that matters.

  52. Myrddin Seren

    What james x leftie said.

    The Hamiltonian “flood of unregulated investment” is the massive amounts of capital that the well-connected in China are getting out of the place by any possible means.

    Which seems to suggest that large slabs of the Chinese upper strata are not quite convinced that China will be the dominant economic investment theme of the 21st century.

    What are we to make of people voting with their feet ?

  53. brc

    pouring in from China is one of the principal drivers and this flood of unregulated investment

    Oh noes! Not money untouched by the dead hand of regulation! The horrors!

    Young Sydney couples would be well advised to rent houses off these well heeled investors and enjoy the fact that their new landlords are effectively subsidising their way of life.

    This is a fact of life in any major city. Its a long time since a young working couple in London could expect to buy any sort of house anywhere near to the centre of town. Lots of international buyers.

    The houses aren’t going anywhere. If the buyers lose money for long enough they will lose interest. Really, we are exporting hopes and dreams for good money. I don’t see a problem.

  54. Myrddin Seren

    ‘sfunny, but I haven’t seen Doomlord add a P.S. to the thread yet that Gillian Triggs has announced the full weight of the Human Rights Commission will be brought to bear against the Grauniad and Happy Hamilton for this nakedly racist and xenophobic spray ?

    cue crickets chirping and tumbleweeds slowly blowing past the front of the HRC

  55. Aynsley Kellow

    Well, well! Perhaps this represents a return to traditional values. As Whitlam once put it, the ALP was racist before it was socialist. The White Australia Policy — the first Act of the Commonwealth Parliament — was demanded by workers, not those evil capitalist types.

    Why is it that such types rant about foreign investment in Australia, but never raise a whimper about Australian investment in foreign lands?

  56. .

    Even if they lose 30% buying a house in Australia, it’s worth it.. the money is out of reach of their government. They are prepared to buy almost anything, and leave it empty for a decade. As long as they offload their savings into bricks and mortar, that’s all that matters.

    We ought to release more land, and let a thousand towers boom…

  57. Tel

    Australia is a huge country with masses of undeveloped land, perhaps getting a few more foreign settlers in the door (of proven quality aka doctors, engineers, IT professinals etc) and a bit more foreign investment would be beneficial.

    Are you attempting to equate immigration (i.e. people who genuinely want to be Australian, to put themselves under our laws, and contribute to our country as a whole) with foreign purchase of assets (i.e. people who have no long term concern for Australia or any Australian people, but just want to park some money) ?

  58. Combine_Dave

    Australia is a huge country with masses of undeveloped land, perhaps getting a few more foreign settlers in the door (of proven quality aka doctors, engineers, IT professinals etc) and a bit more foreign investment would be beneficial.

    Are you attempting to equate immigration (i.e. people who genuinely want to be Australian, to put themselves under our laws, and contribute to our country as a whole) with foreign purchase of assets (i.e. people who have no long term concern for Australia or any Australian people, but just want to park some money) ?

    Do you have any figures suggest to that it is not genuine immigrants and abc predominately buying property in oz?

    My impression (based on a few readings on the issue and ancedotal evidence), is that most of these purchases, excluding new developments/redevelopments, are from ethnically Chinese persons who are also perm residents/citizens.

    Although to be honest I an unsure if I have ever met an immigrant to oz (whether from the uk or asia) who had wanted to become ‘Australian’. They all seem to hold onto their own original national identity.

    *This doesn’t exclude the possibility of the purchase being a money park as often times the money for either the deposit or even the full purchase price has come from either mummy and daddy back home. Although usually they see it as an investment in their own future home rather than a way to hide money from the tax man.

  59. Combine_Dave

    What are we to make of people voting with their feet ?

    We are to make money off of them. Our (various) governments will tax them, our local business will gouge them, and if they are foolish enough to invest and try to start a business in our country, our unions (aided and abetted by the ALP when in power) will extort them.

  60. Leo G

    My impression (based on a few readings on the issue and ancedotal evidence), is that most of these purchases, excluding new developments/redevelopments, are from ethnically Chinese persons who are also perm residents/citizens.

    Contrary to government assurances, there are purchases of existing homes by foreign investors who have never set foot in Australia. The property next but one to my home sold last year to such an investor. That was a direct sale to a foreign investor arranged through an estate agent- no proxy was involved. It’s now a rental property.

  61. Formerly A Political

    Twostix,

    Hindsight is a wonderful thing. What you don’t seem to realise is that we, the older generation who bought up all this cheap property, didn’t know that it was cheap. At that time we did not buy investment properties, but tied up all our meagre incomes in owning our homes. Our dreams were of a house with walk-in robes and ensuite bathrooms, but they were just that, a dream, so we settled for the basics. A basic home without a garage, no floor coverings or curtains, a bare yard, but we were happy, we were buying our very own house and in the context of the time these houses were not cheap.

    Gradually we acquired a garage, the carpets, the curtains, but it wasn’t easy. You sneer about the mechanic, whose wife stayed at home with the kids, who could afford to buy a house on a single salary. What you can’t know is what sacrifices that person may have had to make to buy the house. Do you realise there were no subsidies for child care in those days? It wasn’t worthwile for some wives to go out to work as all the wages would have been spent in buying childcare. Maternity leave was almost non-existent, so someone had to stay home with the children. People married at a younger age then, so grandparents were still working and unable to provide free childcare.

    Many families at the time had so little money they could not afford to go on holiday, anywhere, never mind overseas. They could not afford a second car, but made do with just one car. They could not afford babysitters, so babysitting clubs were set up where people traded hours sat for hours used, among members of these clubs.

    No-one at that time realised that property values would appreciate that much. All we ever wanted was a home of our own and we sacrificed much to achieve this aim. Our dinner conversations did not revolve around the increase in property values, as seems to be the topic of conversation these days. We realised that a property is only a valuable asset when it is sold and if one sells this asset, then another needs to be, either rented or bought, if one is to have somewhere to live.

    So, so easy to condemn the older generation. These days everyone wants the very best immediately. No-one wants to buy the basic 3 bedroom, one bathroom, no garage house these days. Oh no, all want a house with 2-3 bathrooms, a media room, a double or triple garage to house all their cars, overseas holidays and it goes on and on.

    Stop blaming everything on the older generation and look at your generation, your values and expectations and perhaps then you’ll realise that every generation has it hard and that everything should be examined in the context of the relevant time.

  62. nerblnob

    The author and Guardian Australia disclaim any racist intent. Both are conscious of Australia’s racist past.

    Yep, it’s those awful forebears, lucky we are wiser and smarter than them /sarc.

    Well said. This sickening genuflecting to “Australia’s racist past” at every chance is nothing to do with contrition or humility, just pathetic self congratulation.

  63. Tel

    My impression (based on a few readings on the issue and ancedotal evidence), is that most of these purchases, excluding new developments/redevelopments, are from ethnically Chinese persons who are also perm residents/citizens.

    Well, the Foreign Investment Review Board lists 10,000 approved real estate purchases for 2010-2011 and the same for 2011-2012 under the heading of Foreign investment proposals. There would be an off chance that the majority of those were foreigners (going on a hunch, and that being the topic of this particular page).

  64. Leo G

    “The author and Guardian Australia disclaim any racist intent. Both are conscious of Australia’s racist past.”

    Racist intent is a euphemism for intent to enslave or commit genocide. The author and Guardian Australia editor don’t understand the meaning of “racist”.

  65. Tel

    I might also point out that the number rejected is less than half of 1% so they aren’t exactly making a huge impact out there.

  66. Notafan

    Not always true about the young, I took my kids to auctions on the weekend the last house was utter hovel, holes in the roof, every room piled with rubbish that the new owner would have to remove smoke damage the hot water was wood fired and more. They bid but it went well over the reserve to developers. The house next to mine is house sat for a Chinese investor and the one across the road went to Asian investors as well. New Zealand has much stricter foreign ownership rules. We do need to have more land released but there are probably more chinese in their burgeoning middle classes looking to buy property in countries like Australia than the current total population here.

  67. .

    So, so easy to condemn the older generation. These days everyone wants the very best immediately. No-one wants to buy the basic 3 bedroom, one bathroom, no garage house these days. Oh no, all want a house with 2-3 bathrooms, a media room, a double or triple garage to house all their cars, overseas holidays and it goes on and on.

    Stop blaming everything on the older generation and look at your generation, your values and expectations and perhaps then you’ll realise that every generation has it hard and that everything should be examined in the context of the relevant time.

    This is full of shit mate. A “basic three bedroom” in an unpopular part of Sydney can cost half a brick. The same thing in a quiet part of the northern beaches will top 1.2 million.

  68. .

    “The author and Guardian Australia disclaim any racist intent. Both are conscious of Australia’s racist past.”

    Limey pricks. Who colonised Australia?

  69. Notafan

    The dump we tried to buy in the west went for well over $600 k another hovel and I mean hovel went for just under 600k, That one had no kitchen -there was a stove on the back verandah.

  70. .

    Notafan
    #1205371, posted on February 26, 2014 at 8:20 pm
    The dump we tried to buy in the west went for well over $600 k another hovel and I mean hovel went for just under 600k, That one had no kitchen -there was a stove on the back verandah.

    Really? I can’t possibly understand what you are complaining about…

  71. .

    The dump we tried to buy in the west went for well over $600 k another hovel and I mean hovel went for just under 600k, That one had no kitchen -there was a stove on the back verandah.

    Sydney is full

    Thanks Boob Carr!

  72. Mk50 of Brisbane, Henchman to the VRWC

    Hmm.

    I think the solution is simple.

    Don’t live in Sydney.

    It’s mostly a craphole anyway. If you MUST live there, find a place 15 minutes drive from the end of the rail line. At least then your commute’s time can be used. (yep, been there, done that, 5 hrs a day commuting. Thanks, Defence!)

  73. .

    The problem Mk50 with that is the size of the Government is growing and they are destroying private sector jobs with PS jobs. To be employed, it is hard for a young graduate not to move there, at least initially.

    The solution is more land release, less regulation and lower/less tax, but also smaller government and more states. The ACT needs to be rationalised and the Federal departments, well, Federalised.

  74. Tel

    This is full of shit mate. A “basic three bedroom” in an unpopular part of Sydney can cost half a brick. The same thing in a quiet part of the northern beaches will top 1.2 million.

    One sold for $590k right across the road from me, with leaky roof and 1950′s interior (not 1950′s retro style, but all original untouched other than by water) less than 1/4 acre block. That’s at least $30k a year in interest alone with the median income being $50k before tax. Then there’s rates, water, electricity (approx $1k per year for each, round figures) so basically you need one full wage just to pay for the house and perhaps knock a tiny bit off the principle hoping that inflation pays a bit more for you.

    You then need some other income to do things like eat and pay for petrol to get to work.

    I can tell you I’m not in a premium part of Sydney… better than Guildford and Cabramatta but only by a little bit.

  75. Tel

    Sydney is full

    Thanks Boob Carr!

    Wrong. Plenty of new high-rise is going up, and mid-size blocks of flats as well. Heaps of it.

  76. Mk50 of Brisbane, Henchman to the VRWC

    Dot:

    The ACT needs to be rationalised and the Federal departments, well, Federalised.

    No argument from this little black duck.

    Spent a lot of time in Canberra. If I ever went back (God forbid) there I’d take great care to live outside the ACT.

    Sydney’s just impossible. The geography’s all wrong for a major city. it’s a nightmare getting anywhere. Then add corrupt ALP governments, idiots, corrupt ALP governments, gangs and corrupt ALP governments and you have an unholy mess.

  77. Monkey's Uncle

    This is full of shit mate. A “basic three bedroom” in an unpopular part of Sydney can cost half a brick. The same thing in a quiet part of the northern beaches will top 1.2 million.

    Exactly. If no one wanted to buy said houses, presumably they would be selling for a song.

    Perhaps Formerly A Political could tell us where these modest homes are exchanged for a few cases of beer in a pub.

  78. The last conservative Of Melbourne

    May I point you to this http://youtu.be/YWWdk-GVZV8

  79. Combine_Dave

    Well, the Foreign Investment Review Board lists 10,000 approved real estate purchases for 2010-2011 and the same for 2011-2012 under the heading of Foreign investment proposals.

    Does that apply to only new and redeveloping or to established residential property?

    And also, link pls.

  80. dan

    Not always true about the young, I took my kids to auctions on the weekend the last house was utter hovel, holes in the roof, every room piled with rubbish that the new owner would have to remove smoke damage the hot water was wood fired and more. They bid but it went well over the reserve to developers. The house next to mine is house sat for a Chinese investor and the one across the road went to Asian investors as well. New Zealand has much stricter foreign ownership rules. We do need to have more land released but there are probably more chinese in their burgeoning middle classes looking to buy property in countries like Australia than the current total population here.

    The state of the house is irrelevant unless people are specifically buying the property because of the house. The fact is, in central Melbourne or Sydney a block of land on its own title that you can put one or two dwellings on is becoming rarer and more valuable. Where I am, if you have built a new mansion and sell you will get people paying for it, but any old unrenovated house is worth -$15,000 which is the cost of demolishing it.

    We don’t even need more land released. Seriously, the current situation is completely bloody insane. I know people who would happily team up and buy a couple of blocks in my neighbourhood and we could put up a five storey building ourselves, keep a flat for our kids, but you literally can’t build >2 residences on a block here any more. Where do you even start.

  81. dan

    Sorry I mean negative $15,000

    and

    Well, the Foreign Investment Review Board lists 10,000 approved real estate purchases for 2010-2011 and the same for 2011-2012 under the heading of Foreign investment proposals.

    Does that apply to only new and redeveloping or to established residential property?

    And also, link pls.

    Hmmm

    Just looking at the rules I can imagine several ways of skirting them that might allow someone to bank land. What actual property lawyers could come up with when their livelihood depends on it I can only imagine. I doubt they are a barrier.

  82. Combine_Dave

    To put in context; the relevant policy indicating that non residents are not eligible to buy established residential property as either a home nor an investment.

    http://www.firb.gov.au/content/guidance/downloads/gn3_jan2012.pdf

    Of course that doesn’t prevent local or resident Asian wannabe home owners or investors from buying.

    Case in point, when I was after my second home at each open home there were at least group of Asian buyers (usually with the whole family in tow with their spokesman/woman speaking in an Aussie accent), although one time t’was South Koreans not the above evil Chinese.

    Mind you I know quite a few Hongkers who own multiple dwellings in Australia, but after being abandoned by the British to Chinese Communists one can hardly blame them.

  83. .

    Where I am, if you have built a new mansion and sell you will get people paying for it, but any old unrenovated house is worth -$15,000 which is the cost of demolishing it.

    The value of the block a 590 k home sits on is therefore 605k.

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