Opinion by Troy Dodds
Let’s start today’s column by printing exactly what Joe Hockey said about housing affordability on Tuesday.
“Well there are a range of incentives that have been put in place by state governments and others in relation to first home buyers,” he said.
“The starting point for a first home buyer is to get a good job that pays good money. If you’ve got a good job and it pays good money and you have security in relation to that job, then you can go to the bank and you can borrow money and that’s readily affordable; more affordable than ever to borrow money for a first home now than it has ever been.
“But, the response for first home buyers is to build more properties. I know, it’s a difficult concept for some to get their heads around, supply and demand, but it’s not that complicated.
“If you increase supply to meet the demand, then obviously you won’t get the growth in property prices that you may have thought if you have less supply.”
So Joe Hockey’s key point was very much about building more properties; about increasing supply to meet the demand.
But that’s all very boring, so the mainstream political media took it in a different direction.
They decided that the real story was this line: “The starting point for a first home buyer is to get a good job that pays good money”.
That sent social media into meltdown.
Joe was feeling about as much love as a vegetarian in a steakhouse.
What I don’t get about this almighty storm in a teacup is what people actually think Mr Hockey said wrong, particularly when his answer is printed in full as it is above.
Is it not true that a good first step to property ownership is having a solid job and earning a strong enough income (whether on your own or with a partner) to make that giant leap into the land of the ‘Great Australian Dream’?
Mr Hockey was not suggesting that unless you’re a doctor, lawyer or politician you can’t possibly expect to purchase your own home.
He was simply suggesting that a good starting point for anyone looking to purchase a home is to have a job that meets the needs of the home they’re looking to buy.
From there he went on to talk more about what’s required to address the housing affordability issue, in his opinion.
Poorly worded perhaps, but Mr Hockey has been criticised for essentially telling the truth.
He was saying exactly what a bank would tell you if you tried to get a home loan without the appropriate income.
But it is very difficult to tell the truth when we live in a “want it now” society.
There seems to be a section of people out there who believe that first home buyers deserve to be able to buy their “dream home” right now, and if they can’t, they somehow believe that the system or the Government of the day is letting them down.
I know that I have friends who are in their 20s or early 30s, desperate to buy in or close to the Sydney CBD who whinge and moan about house prices yet won’t consider coming further west to achieve their goals.
It’s as if it is beneath them to compromise.
I bought my first house three years ago and I’m happy to say that it’s not necessarily my “dream home”, but it is what I could afford at the time and it’s far better than paying somebody else’s mortgage off for them.
One day, I’ll hopefully be in a position to take another step up the ladder, just as my parents were and their parents before them.
I can’t help but feel that somehow, Joe Hockey has been bashed from pillar to post this week simply for saying it as it is.
Ironic, really, considering that’s what we all want politicians to do more often.