August 4th 2007

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Articles from this issue:

EDITORIAL: Solving the housing crisis

NATIONAL SECURITY: The lessons of the Dr Haneef case

CANBERRA AFFAIRS: Will Liberals dump Howard before election?

ECONOMIC AFFAIRS: Call for industry policy debate

PORNOGRAPHY: Canberra drags its feet over internet porn

FAMILY: Group marriage on the way

VICTORIA: No more abortions, please

STRAWS IN THE WIND: Bring back King Canute / The entertainers / Broadcaster's bias / Regime changes in Turkey and Pakistan?

SPECIAL FEATURE: Postmodern science - a contradiction in terms

VIETNAM: Economic tiger, political laggard

GLOBAL WARMING: Hosting a hog roast to promote vegetarianism

OBITUARY: A born leader and exemplary Christian - Peter Keogh (1931-2007)

Tough anti-terror laws needed (letter)

Collective bargaining hypocrisy (letter)

Rudd on grocery and housing prices (letter)

Young couples without homes (letter)

First home unaffordable (letter)

Young people deprived by technology (letter)

Film's Christian theme? (letter)


BOOKS: ELLA: Princess, Saint and Martyr, by Christopher Warwick

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First home unaffordable (letter)

by James Gilchrist

News Weekly, August 4, 2007

I wish to add my support to Mark Florio's contention regarding housing affordability for families and first-home buyers (News Weekly, June 9 and July 7, 2007).

While watching yet another young entrepreneur being lauded on Channel Nine's A Current Affair for owning 17 properties, it occurred to me that there may be something inequitable, perhaps even absurd, in our present system, under which many families are unable to afford to buy a single home.

A 2003 Reserve Bank submission confirmed the disproportionate impact of investors upon real estate prices and its consequent negative impact upon first-home buyers. (See Mike Steketee in The Australian, 12 July 12, 2007).

Meanwhile, the Federal Government's proposed solution to the now conspicuous "housing shortage" — a solution which has electoral sweetener written all over it — is to unlock Commonwealth land for those unable to buy into the market.

This seems destined to generate further urban sprawl with little effective infrastructure, services or access to public transport. Moreover, it will lead to greater traffic congestion for those in outer suburbs and probably a fairly drab lifestyle for those compelled to live there — in short, further steady progress in turning our major cities into Los Angeles and Detroit.

Although not an economist, I can't but wonder why the Government fails to choose a more fair, just and equitable solution, such as offering greater tax incentives to home-owners rather than investors, thereby spreading existing housing more evenly among our population.

My wife and I, although lucky enough to have scraped into the housing market, would be better off evicting ourselves, along with our children, to live in a rental property rather than staying in our own home, because then we would be "investors".

Does this strike anyone else as absurd? Once again, capitalist individualism becomes a greater imperative than the common good.

If either major party feels genuine sympathy for "battlers", they should appropriately address this area rather than offering short-term palliatives.

James Gilchrist,
Fairfield, Vic.

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