Joe Hockey has been criticised overnight for seemingly insensitive remarks towards those trying to break into the housing market by telling them to “get a good job that pays good money”.
Whilst unveiling an ATO investigation into almost 200 foreign investment real estate transactions, Mr Hockey tried to dispel suggestions that the volume of foreign buyers is artificially driving up property prices, particularly in Sydney. While interest rates remain at an all time lows, housing affordability in many inner city areas remains out of reach of the average Australian.
However, Mr Hockey set the commentariat alight when he noted, “if property is proving unaffordable for people with interest rates at record lows, then they should think carefully about how much they really can borrow.”
Hockey’s comments drew fire from shadow treasurer, Chris Bowen, who said that it was ‘an insult to the nurses, teachers and the people who are working hard, who just are finding it very hard to break into the housing market’. They accused Mr Hockey of being out of touch with the financial battle of ordinary Australians.
But are Mr Hockey’s words harsh, or just a simple truth that many of us have followed in our own journey into home ownership. Mr Hockey didn’t elaborate on what he meant by a ‘good job’. The reference to ‘pays good money’ is a little off putting, but did he necessarily mean a white-collar job or just a decent job with a secure hours and income? He didn’t single out nurses, teachers, tradesmen or otherwise.
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Isn’t the larger issue at play here, not what Mr Hockey said or didn’t say, but that home ownership has and always will be the largest financial decision that Australian families will make. Those that take the plunge know only too well that the decision doesn’t come lightly and often requires sacrifices in others areas of life.
Maybe what Mr Hockey should have said is ‘work hard, save hard and buy what you can afford’.
As many of us know, the first home buyer’s of today are often accused of wanting it all now. Houses beyond their budgets, new furniture, big screen TV’s and two brand new cars in the driveway. Long gone are the days when saying ‘no’ to things or ‘making do’ with second hand items or hand-me-downs was ok.
Certainly the median price of a house in inner Sydney and many other capital cities is becoming out of reach from many first home buyers. Not everyone wants to ‘go west’ as MP Craig Laundy suggests, but fewer people want to make the hard, short-term sacrifices to their lifestyle either.
Housing affordability has always been an issue in some shape or form. People have only ever been able to buy what they can afford, where they can afford it. Those that work hard and save hard, irrespective of their job, have always made it easier on themselves than others.
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Tell us what you think. Are Mr Hockey’s words harsh or just just misguided? Is it an affordability issue, a jobs issue or a savings issue?