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Paul Catalanotto: Our Marie Antoinette housing policy

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Home ownership: something once common in Australia but increasingly impossible. Photo: Pexels.com

Industry-wide, Australia is in a housing and rental crisis, and the solution from State and federal government seems to be the Marie Antoinette approach – let them eat cake or, at minimum, dine on the crumbs falling off the table.

The oldest members of Generation Z are 25—a prime age to purchase a house. Even a 30-year mortgage gets a wholly owned house before retirement. Yet, when factoring in housing costs, inflation, rising interest rates, and stagnant wages, Gen Z will be more salt than pepper before they have the deposit just to make a bid on a house.

This is before the government gatekeeping that can add an extra 5-10 per cent to the overall cost. In other words, Gen Z is coming of age in a property market that not only feels unfair, it feels impossibly unfair. The people who are supposed to help level the playing field continue to make the playing field lopsided.

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Currently, Gen Z is distracted by Tik Tok and correct pronoun usage and hasn’t realised that most will be rent slaves for most if not all of their lives.

In the section on the Seventh Commandment (You shall not steal), the Catechism of the Catholic Church calls property owners “steward[s] of Providence” (CCC 2404), and it further states that private property allows for guaranteeing freedoms and human dignity and is a tool for helping persons meet basic needs and the needs of those in their charge (CCC 2402).

Gen Z is coming of age in a property market … that feels impossibly unfair – Paul Catalanotto

Regarding homeownership, it must be asked if Australia has created an environment that benefits some while unjustly denying others an opportunity to homeownership. Are Australians less free for not owning a home? Is a lack of homeownership a dash against Australians’ human dignity? Is renting less dignified or a limiting of freedom?

In a series of sermons on poverty, Saint John Chrysostom would argue, based on the reading of the parable of the rich man and the poor man in Luke’s Gospel, that an unjust denial of goods (even owning substantially more than the needs of the person or family) is a kind of theft from others.

A couple in Western Australia owns 80 houses, most of which are on short-term rental sites, theoretically locking 79 other families out of the housing market. Is this a sign of a competitive market or one skewed with barriers too high for the average couple – let alone individual – to even enter, let alone repay their mortgage in full?

What is the next generation to do? They start looking for a new market that feels more like socialism. Where no one owning a home is preferable than some, and one kind of unfairness gets traded for a different kind of unfairness.

Does Australia value as many citizens as possible owning a piece of AU dirt with a shelter built on top of it and not merely repaying floor space in a building?

To date, the answers look like crumbs aimed at silencing critics while maintaining the status quo.

Related:

ELECTION 2022: experts warn ‘inevitable fall’ in living standards

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