May 16, 2018 by Dymphna

Housing debate plumbs new lows

This idea is an attack on seniors and marks a new low in the housing debate.

There’s this odd idea that retirees have to play their part to help fix the affordability crisis.

It flared up again in this year’s budget, as some people criticised the plan to give extra funding to allow older people to get care at home.

That somehow, rather than supporting people to stay at home as long as possible, we should be getting them to pack up stumps and make way for younger people… you know, people who really need houses.

From The AFR:

Treasurer Scott Morrison’s third budget includes billions of dollars in funding for thousands of extra home-care packages, designed to help ease the ongoing backlog of retirees wanting to stay in their homes as they get older.

Grant Thornton Australia partner Sian Sinclair warned the government’s plan would blunt the impact of 2017 budget measures designed to give retirees a $300,000 incentive to downsize…

“Last year they were encouraging downsizing through the capital gains tax concessions and the superannuation concessions around where that money got parked, but here they’re almost putting a handbrake on that downsizing by providing opportunities for people to continue to receive care in their own homes,” she said.

“It goes a way against that housing affordability measure, where we are talking about freeing up larger properties which could be made available for families.

“It would also mean putting older Australians into accommodation which is more suitable for their time of life”…

“While 20,000 packages is not a lot in the overall scheme of things, it will have an effect, particularly for those people who have a high-valued property in the major cities”…

“Otherwise we could free that capital up and also free up some housing stock for other people.”

Are we seriously at the stage where we’re asking people to move out of their homes – homes they’ve possibly been in for 30 years – to make way for younger families? Has it really come to that?

Seriously, we’ve got to keep some perspective here.

I mean, I could improve affordability in Australia with a selective cull of retirees too. Just start thinning them out a bit so there’s more homes available for the rest of us.

That would definitely put downward pressure on prices.

But you wouldn’t do that because it’s cold-hearted and ridiculous. This proposal isn’t all that much better.

But I think it speaks volumes about where we’re at with the housing debate in Australia. We all know what needs to happen. We need to build more houses. A lot more houses.

We also need to make sure our population flows into the major cities are in proportion to our ability to expand the housing stock.

Blind Freddy can see that. It’s supply and demand.

But no, we’ve dithered and dathered on housing affordability for so long, that we’re starting to get to the bottom of the ideas barrel.

Now, ideas like, “Let’s stop supporting old people to stay at home” can actually be taken seriously and get printed in a national paper.

Seriously? Has our moral compass really drifted that far?

Where does it end? Should we stop women fleeing abusive relationships so they don’t take up the extra housing stock? Should we create tax incentives for children who stay at home until they’re 40, helping us moderate housing demand.

Seriously, I’ve seen some ridiculous stuff in my time, but this just about takes the cake.

That’s the alarm clock ringing Australia.