Housing price stimulation only reinforces inequality

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Housing price stimulation only reinforces inequality


Credit:The Age

The government’s insistence on doing everything possible to stimulate housing prices certainly bolsters its electoral chances but, in the process, it is accentuating and cementing inequality (“How to stop the house price madness”, February 18). Clearly, those homeowners who own their homes outright and have good income are able to help their children enter the housing market.
On the other side, an increasing proportion of low-income households are being locked out of homeownership and are being forced into becoming life-long private renters with all the attendant insecurity and anxiety. Alternatively, they are purchasing homes which they can ill-afford and spending a considerable proportion of their income on servicing the mortgage. According to the ABS, at least a million low-income households were in housing stress (spending more than 30 per cent of gross household income on housing) in 2017-18. The government’s housing policy needs to be urgently revised if we are to have any hope of moving towards a more equitable and just society. Alan Morris, Eastlakes

Jessica Irvine hits the nail on the head in so many ways although perhaps is a bit light on the social and economic costs of escalating house prices, including why so many vital industries are owned overseas because they need more capital, soaked up by the housing market. But the federal legislation and government policies underlying this “madness” were not handed down from heaven, and a forensic analysis of how they came about might help in changing them. It is not only votes but their own negatively geared properties that make federal politicians so loathe to rock the boat. Norman Carter, Roseville Chase

Although I am a great believer in democratic rule, because the policies of our federal government have allowed house prices to get out of control, I would not be averse to reverting to Plato’s interpretation of utopian rule until sanity again prevails. However, in our case, we would have Jessica Irvine as our philosopher queen to alter the tax system such that it no longer grossly favours property investment, and wealth is taxed to a greater extent than income. With Jessica in charge, we would no longer have the absurd spectacle of government MPs, such as Tim Wilson (owner of four houses), promoting the idea of allowing people to use their super to purchase a house, which will only exacerbate the current problem. Peter Nash, Fairlight

Morrison, Albanese, the federal Parliament and states have proved they can solve hugely pressing issues if they work together. But the ″⁣two-party″⁣ system imprisons and stymies action – inaction is so soothing – notice how fat they’ve all become? My 37-year-old niece will never have her own home in Sydney where she works. Inequality festers. When will the next Trump slouch towards Canberra?
Sue Young, Bensville

Full marks to Jessica Irvine. She hit the nail on the head on what is wrong in Australia on this issue. Labor took solutions to the electorate in the last election but voters were fooled by various scare campaigns that were unfounded. Barry O’Connell, Old Toongabbie

Embrace life beyond the screen and ditch Facebook

I will be turning 86 this year and have never used Facebook (‴⁣⁣Unreasonable behaviour’: Media companies slam Facebook’s Australian news restrictions”, smh.com.au, February 18). I am socially, mentally and physically active and enjoy every waking minute. I have just thrown away my two tin cans on a piece of string, but only because they left rusty rings on the kitchen bench. Get rid of Facebook. The birds are still singing, the sun is shining, the flowers are blooming, my head is still above my bum when I get up in the morning and I enjoy talking to real people on my walks. Laurie Dicker, Buderim (Qld)

What’s the fuss? I’m what is often referred to as a news junkie. Have been for decades. I don’t need Facebook. There is absolutely no restriction for me to go to any news website I like and still keep up with the news and remain well informed. Esther Scholem, Macquarie Park

What a great decision by Facebook to stop using reputable news sources. Now there will be no doubt that Facebook is the source of unsubstantiated streams of consciousness. Grant Casey, Waterloo


The unexpected decision by Facebook is a wake-up call for all users that these online platforms control your social media behaviour. It also means that Google, making media outlet deals, has grown in power. Michael Blissenden, Dural

Facebook needs to read rule No.1 – no one is indispensable, least of all it. I have never used Facebook and certainly don’t need it. I pay for my news (the Herald) and so should they.
Terry Cook, Ermington

It sounds like total hypocrisy for the government to claim Facebook cannot be trusted to present reliable news on one hand but makes massive cuts to the ABC budget on the other. You need to get your message straight, fellas. Geoff McMillan, Eastwood

A spokesman for Facebook claims that they are excluding news media with a “heavy heart”. Facebook is a non-sentient entity and therefore cannot have feelings; it does not have a heart, heavy or otherwise. Of course it may now have a lightened revenue account. Rod Hibberd, Murwillumbah

What fantastic news! Now Facebook can return to what it was designed for: a place for friends and families to share stories, photos and memories. Michael McGrath, Manly Vale

If God had meant us to get news from Facebook, she would never have given us the wireless. Peter Fyfe, Enmore

Left out in the coal decommission

Joel Fitzgibbon (Letters, February 18) writes “Emissions are falling”, without any indication of by how much or how quickly. According to the Climate Council, Australia is “not on track” to meet its Paris Accord target of a 26 to 28 per cent reduction on 2005 levels by 2030. Figures from the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources show that the only recent period when emissions were consistently decreasing, before the renewable energy boom began in 2018, was when Labor’s carbon price was in force. Mr Fitzgibbon’s arguments defy his own state’s policy, and that of all other states and territories: net zero emissions by 2050. He is aligning himself with Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s deliberately vague aim for net zero emissions. As part of the global community, Australia must do its share of the “heavy lifting” by reducing its target to net zero by 2035, or 2050 at the latest. Douglas Mackenzie, Deakin (ACT)

Joel Fitzgibbon rightly stands in support of Hunter Valley coal miners. We owe them a great debt. However, as Felicity McCallum points out, we do miners no service if we do not prepare them to transition to a cleaner future as, in the words of Fitzgibbon, “our coal generators age and withdraw”. Failure to promote skills transfer to other sectors may mean both mines and miners will be left stranded. Michael Healy, East Maitland

Health contradiction

How can NSW Health get it so right and, at the same time, so wrong? It has, more or less, done a stellar job during the pandemic, but has also overseen some of the worst human rights abuses we have seen (“Patient wrote on walls with her blood”, February 18). The Mental Health Review Tribunal has a lot to answer for. Who are the individuals responsible for this and other atrocities and what is minister Brad Hazzard’s response in all this? And if “the law is silent on the question of seclusion”, this must be remedied immediately. Kerrie Wehbe, Blacktown (Dharug country)

Promotion or relegation

Your correspondent’s observation (Letters, February 18) that the “best teachers remain in the classroom” is true and is echoed in many professions, especially nursing.Ti me and time again I witnessed wonderfully talented clinical nurses assume managerial roles simply because it seemed like a natural career progression with income incentives. However, many of these individuals gradually lose perception of the practical workers “at the coalface” and align themselves with their managerial counterparts at the expense of the clinical staff. These bureaucrats, whether teachers or nurses, should be forced to spend a number of hours working in a clinical setting to stay apprised of the working conditions of their coalface colleagues. Elizabeth Maher, Bangor

The teaching profession seems to have the same problem as mine, computer technical support. Our best engineers are promoted to be supervisors, if they are any good at that then kicked further upstairs to be managers. Eventually, they are stuck for life in a job they are not much good at. All professions need to have a path of promotion and salary increase that does not take the best away from their jobs. Andrew Taubman, Queens Park

Inexpert opinion

In much the same way as the Chief Medical Officer does not give tourism advice, it would be appropriate for Phillipa Harrison (“Tourism chief calls for us to live with virus risk”, February 18) to refrain from comments on acceptable human risk levels from COVID-19. Our medical advice has guided us magnificently through this pandemic because of its concern for human health. Business does not share the same priority. Wayne Duncombe, Glebe

Biloela still waiting

There is a raft of Australian citizens released from incarceration, many by reduced sentences involving far less time than the Murugappan family have so far chalked up (Letters, February 18), who either go on to reoffend or endeavour to settle meaningfully back into the community. I believe this family wishes to do the latter. They have a door, open a country mile, waiting for them at Biloela. Let’s hope that in the future the daughters only associate Christmas with giving and
not deprivation. Steve Dillon, Thirroul

If Scott Morrison uses his wife as a shield against criticism of his insensitivity, he cannot be surprised if she personally receives increased attention on the Letters pages (February 18). I wouldn’t think she would thank him though. He should not persist with this game. Louise Whelan, Chatswood

A long, hard lesson

A penny for any other “young Einstein” ideas on Department of Education secretary Mark Scott’s mind (‴⁣⁣Cash cow’ teaching courses under threat”, February 18). He says he thinks there is a limit to the number of 18-year-olds who are willing to complete four years of university and then go back to school for another 50 years? His not-so-subtle way of telling the current crop of 18-year-olds they will have to work until they are 72 suggests he’s never heard of teacher burnout. Col Shephard, Yamba

Expected rewards

I defy anyone to point to solid evidence that paying performance bonuses actually improves productivity (“NBN staff split $78m in bonus bonanza”, February 18). In truth, they have become an end in themselves and an anticipated remuneration entitlement rather than a valid recognition of exceptional achievement beyond what was expected. Whatever happened to the incentive that if you did your job properly you weren’t shown the door? Adrian Connelly, Springwood

What goes down

I see that a former Trump Plaza casino in Atlantic City was safely demolished in a matter of seconds in the middle of a crowded cityscape (“Former Trump casino implodes, marking the end of an era in Atlantic City”, smh.com.au, February 18). Now we know how it’s done, there seems no technical reason for not getting rid of a certain casino in Sydney. Greg McCarry, Epping

Fruity Rooty

If Mamre Road and Pinus Avenue cause some discomfort (Letters, February 18), the whole of Rooty Hill must be downright embarrassing. Beverley Izard, Sancrox

Perhaps your correspondent could plant a Clitoria ternatea, a perennial, to keep the gender balance in her garden just where it should be? Ian Macdonald, Goonellabah

Love for all

Your correspondent (Letters, February 18) has overlooked calendar year tennis grand slam winners Don Budge and Maureen Connolley. Tony Everett, Wareemba

New tricks

″⁣Those who can’t teach become Expert Educational Bureaucrats ensuring those who can teach, can’t″⁣ (Letters, February 16). Brilliant. Ronald Elliott, Sandringham (Vic)

The digital view
Online comment from the story that attracted the most reader feedback yesterday on smh.com.au
‘Within her rights to take that time’: Barty on controversial timeout in loss
From Call me Kev: ″⁣This young woman is pure class, no doubt about it! An amazing athlete but with a maturity of outlook that puts many others to shame.″⁣

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