Some love affairs end in tears. Other times, a relationship sours so gradually that when the final parting comes, it is a relief for all involved. And so it is with Australians’ love affair with property.
A decade ago, dinner parties and barbeques were dominated by talk of house prices and property investments. Televisions blared with renovations shows in which miracles were performed on derelict bungalows and hey presto, the house sells for double its original value.
Even today, there is no shortage of property spruikers out there to claim the next boom in property prices is about to get underway. Surveys pinpoint the suburbs in which it is cheaper to buy than rent. Yes, but only if you assume current variable mortgage rates, which at 5 or 6 per cent are historically low. To say claim housing affordability has dramatically improved is kind of like saying today is stinking hot, so winter will never happen again.
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Who wants to earn a million dollars? Forget TV game shows or get rich quick schemes, studies reveal the true path to riches in this country lies in education.
Over her lifetime, a woman with a bachelor’s degree will earn about $800,000 more than a woman who does no study after year 12, according to a report by economist Andrew Norton, released last month by the Grattan Institute.
For men, this lifetime earnings gap between university grads and school leavers is even bigger at $1.1 million. But it’s not just uni degrees. The returns from investments in education are evident at a secondary level too. A person who completes year 12 will enjoy a 30 per cent higher annual pre-tax income than a person who left school after year 10, figures compiled by economist-turned-federal Labor MP, Andrew Leigh, for the Ken Henry tax review show.
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In the iconic Kimberley region of West Australia one of Australia’s biggest recent environmental battlegrounds has emerged in the red cliffs and turquoise waters of James Price Point, about 20 km north of Broome. This is a battle that might ultimately be won in the investor board rooms rather than on the front lines of blockades.
The Browse Basin gas hub development has stoked up so much opposition on so many fronts that many investors are now asking if the project is still economically viable, or if in fact Woodside’s ‘social licence’ to proceed has disappeared in the red dust that graces the Kimberley coastline.
Australian business is all too familiar with the impact strident community opposition can have on controversial major projects, yet some large corporations and investors continue to discount the importance of maintaining their social licence and protecting the environment.
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As friends and family gathered to celebrate my friend Tom Uren’s 90th birthday recently, he had many reasons to be proud of his contribution to Australia. History books abound that record the unique achievements of the Whitlam Government in which Tom was a senior figure. But there’s a big one that is barely remembered – the role the pair played in getting rid of the septic tank.
These famously malodorous mosquito and cockroach breeding pits lay beneath the lawns of suburban homes everywhere, including the then home of Prime Minister Whitlam in western Sydney.
As Tom tells it, by the time he was elected to power Gough had decided enough was enough – a modern Australia deserved a modern sewerage system. So he appointed his Minister for Urban and Regional Development, Tom Uren, to clean up the country by funding new sewerage plants across urban Australia.
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If you attend an auction in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne, the chances are that the winning bidder will be a foreign buyer. In recent months, Australians have become increasingly frustrated that they are being outbid for residential properties.
Young people wanting to establish a home have found that the expected prices are being pushed higher and higher.
This is having a flow-on effect through the property market as potential buyers shift their attention to other suburbs. The consequence is a further escalation in prices. Most young buyers are being pushed further and further towards the outskirts of the metropolitan area.
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