Post 1: A Peek into the Issue of Housing Affordability

Post 1: Creating a data set using secondary sources
Christine Ye

1) The facts on Australian housing affordability

Written by Gavin Wood and Rachel Ong, this article talks about the rising cost of homes in Australia, a long-term issue that the authors believe have been ‘neglected for decades’ (Wood & Ong 2015), with focus on negative gearing and house distribution inefficiency as key reasons for why our housing affordability situation is where it is now. Wood, a professor at both RMIT University and Curtin University, along with Ong, who is affiliated with the Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre, are academic individuals funded by the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute and Australian Research Council. Both are regular contributors on the housing affordability topic within The Conversation, and in this article they express concern that something needs to be done on a federal or state level. While Wood and Ong acknowledge that there are several factors to be considered regarding the rising prices and affordability issue, such as population growth and rising incomes, the main issue is the incentive that negative gearing and tax exemptions offer to investors, resulting in an inefficient distribution of housing that bends to the favour of investors rather than home buyers.

Analysis and opinions throughout the article are backed up by research and official statistics papers, such as the ABS Survey of Income and Housing report, with tables and graphs to support. This isn’t the first time that the negative gearing policy has been scrutinised by social media, journalists and reporters; those who disagree with the policy either feel the disadvantage or can see the statistic evidence to prove that it is fuelling the housing affordability issue, just as Wood and Ong have.

2) Q&A: How can housing be made more affordable?

This article starts off by making reference to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, which shows that 21% of home owners spend more than 30% of their gross income on housing. However a point that hasn’t been considered as much is that wages have also risen significantly, which raises the question:

‘Has what we consider an affordable house price changed?’ (Cahill 2016)

Danielle Cahill, a journalist with over ten years of experience under her belt on the topic of Australian housing, recounts and shares the opinions of property investor Simon Pressley, who ultimately believes that it is a change in the attitude of the younger generation which is preventing them from working as hard as they could for their first house purchase. According to Pressley, there are much more suitable loans for first home buyers compared to those available for previous generations, and that there are several available options such as ‘rentvesting’, tapping into personal funds and joint ownership that can allow someone to get their foot into the door of the housing market.

While Cahill herself writes for the well known website, she isn’t completely focused on the issue of housing affordability which gives her less credibility for this article, however Pressley is to be considered a professional within the field as a property investor. That being said, compared to other articles I’ve read, Pressley’s opinion that the new policy of limited negative gearing is a “poorly thought out” (Cahill 2016) idea contrasts with most others who see it creating a better opportunity for actual home buyers. As a personal opinion, because Pressley is an adept and successful property investor, he doesn’t see the hardships that a young individual wishing to purchase their first home would. And along the same lines, the older generations don’t seem to see that while times have changed, the statistics show it is indeed becoming increasingly hard for those aspiring to purchase their first home.

3) You Can’t Buy A House And It’s Not Your Fault: Jan Fran explains

Jeannette Francis, an SBS journalist who has worked in all news and current affairs departments, presents the issue of housing affordability in particular regards to Generation Y: are we honestly just lazy, entitled and whiny, or is housing affordability really that big of an issue? This question is tackled through interviewing several real estate agents throughout the television broadcast, along with Francis’s factual statements backed by researched statistics, and coming to the conclusion that Generation Y aren’t complaining for no reason.

A strong statistic that I’ve picked up from the episode that helps prove an aspect Generation Y’s struggle is that while housing prices and income have travelled and risen roughly at the same rate from 1970 to 1996, income has risen steadily by 27% in contrast to housing prices that have increased by 121%. On the same note Francis presents that:

‘Baby boomers bought their first houses when it was easier, and now they want to buy our [Generation Y’s] first homes’ (You Can’t Buy A House And It’s Not Your Fault: Jan Fran explains 2015)

Interestingly enough, not many articles have taken on these opinions; many have argued that income has risen proportionately to match the rising prices of Australian houses, and that buying the first property was just as hard for Baby Boomers as it would be now for Generation Y.

While a lot of the content is humorous and sarcastic in nature, with Francis acting the part of a Generation Y individual along with the stereotypical first-world-problem attitude, through the body of the broadcast she tries to objectively gain the different sides of the story through the opinions and advice of the professionals, and has given me a more emotional understanding of the issue which I can relate to.

4) Gen Y frets over a looming bleak future

In this article, Jennifer Rayner presents the more emotional side to the issue of housing affordability through the eyes of Generation Y, and the intangible effects that it may bring. As an author who focuses on the issues and inequalities that the younger generation face, along with being an adviser to the Australian Labor Party, even though Rayner doesn’t seem to have written anything on the topic of housing affordability before, her interests lie close as the issue ties into the experience of Generation Y’s worsening opportunities within housing.

Despite the article being labelled as a commentary at the beginning, along with Rayner’s presentation of a subjective and emotional experience of her own housing affordability situation, her opinions are backed up by researched facts and statistics, a significant one being that the number of underemployed people has jumped from one in thirty in 1992, to one in five today. She believes that we need to fix this housing issue and give everyone an equal opportunity, as mental and emotional health are being compromised; this is something that I completely agree with as it should be in the best interest of Australia that everyone is presented with a fair opportunity. Strangely, this opinion isn’t very common as other authors have targeted particular bodies of people, such as social workers or low-income workers to focus on, instead of bringing attention back to something that should be as obvious as equal opportunities for everyone.

5) Home Truths

This television broadcast takes us on a journey through different perspectives and experiences in relation to the housing affordability issue in Australia, interviewing several bodies such as the professionals within the world field, politicians and young individuals being hit by the issue. Reporter Ben Knight is part of the Four Corners program by ABC, an investigative current affairs program that delves into the controversies and issues relevant to society. As housing affordability issues have reached a stage where it is gaining heavy media and journalist attention, Knight has covered facts and emotions in regards to the issue, to provide a wider audience with an educational window into housing affordability, to prove controversies or assumptions wrong, and to spur a change in people who watch.

As part of a well known and established organisation, Home Truths (2016) lends itself to being a trustworthy source even though the Four Corners series doesn’t solely focus on housing issues. The positions of those interviewed and mentioned in the broadcast show that housing affordability is complicated; it is a political issue in the case of negative gearing and building new houses, that it is a situation where the odds bend to the favour of investors, and also an emotional issue for those who are having their Australian Dream taken by those who have a different agenda. This thorough discussion is something that I think the episode has done successfully, and thus is well researched, factual but also expresses an emotional perspective.

Initial Opinions and Direction

Through the general reading of relevant articles and analysis on a handful, the issue of housing affordability through the perspective of Generation Y has really resonated with what I feel and what I believe is a very valid inequality. As someone who is more interested on the emotional and mental side of the issue rather than the political and statistical, the three positions I’d be inclined to investigate are:

  1. The attitudes of Generation Y vs. the attitudes of the Baby Boomers: how much of it is just the younger generation being too vocal about their disadvantages? How much of the Baby Boomer’s house market situation was luck? Why does there seem to be a defensive nature when it comes to how hard one has worked to purchase a house?
  2. Property investors vs. those who want to buy their first home: negative gearing is a generous incentive to boost the number of property investors, but what about those who just want to achieve the Australian Dream? What about the emotional aspects of owning your own home?
  3. Who is affecting the housing industry the most: is it the wealthy immigrants? The retiring Australians who won’t downsize and relocate? Who is the media blaming for this situation and why?


Cahill, D. 2016, ‘Q&A: How can housing be made more affordable?’,, 6 April, viewed 27 July 2016, <>.

Home Truths 2016, television program, Four Corners, ABC, Australia, 2 May.

Rayner, J. 2016, ‘Gen Y frets over a looming bleak future’, Sydney Morning Herald, 5 April, viewed 28 July 2016, <>.

Wood, G. & Ong, R. 2015, ‘The facts on Australian housing affordability’, The Conversation, 12 June, viewed 28 July 2016, <>.

You Can’t Buy A House And It’s Not Your Fault: Jan Fran explains 2015, television program, The Feed, SBS, Australia, 11 February.

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