I just read an article in The Gold Coast Bulletin, ‘Mums, kids sleeping in garage, car’, and read the comments below the article before they got fire-walled off. I was surprised to find one trollish character telling people to stop complaining and move from the Gold Coast if the cost of accommodation was too high on the Gold Coast.
What is going on here? How do the residents of the Gold Coast not know that this is a national problem? Here’s the problem simply stated.
No-one on any pension anywhere in the country – except a few terrible inland country towns – can afford the lowest market rentals for habitable accommodation. Simple as that. It’s not a youth issue, it’s not an old women’s issue, it is not a Gold Coast or Sydney issue. It is an issue for everyone, everywhere in Australia.
The lowest rental prices of livable accommodation have inflated above the ability of anyone, anywhere on a pension to afford.
And it is not just those on a pension who can no longer afford rent. Most of those on minimum wages can no longer afford to rent within commuting distance of their work. Low income earners can no longer afford rentals either! What’s that? People who are working can no longer afford rent? This is Australia, isn’t it? What happened to “the lucky country”, when huge swathes of the population can no longer keep a roof over their heads.
Yet at the same time the supply of community and public housing has dried up. The waiting lists are up to 10 years and growing longer day by day.
So, how do we help ourselves? Oh, that’s right, we are not allowed to help ourselves. We cannot get caravans or tiny houses and park them on a willing supporter’s land. Whichever council “governs” the land will force those people to move on and fine the land owners who have generously allowed it. We cannot sleep in our vehicles as council employees prowl the streets in the middle of the night harassing and fining people whose crime is to be homeless. That’s right, fining the desperately poor for being poor. The homeless cannot set up tent embassies where they can be safe amongst a crowd. We cannot move onto crown land as we could in “the great depression” and build humpies to live in. What can homeless people do? Where can they sleep, where can they live?
There are strategies for the young and fit and healthy and capable to get a temporary roof over their heads. They can share houses, couch surf, house-sit, and if they have some money, buy a camper-van and move around from one free camp site to the next. They can volunteer on organic farms or with Australian Volunteers abroad. Some can take their pensions and live overseas. But these strategies are all temporary and all finite. They solve nothing.
So let’s stop the nonsense of pitting young people against old people, and regional people against city people, and workers against dole bludgers. This problem is a national problem that is the result of 20 or so years of serious economic mismanagement by both political parties and their fundamentalist approach to economic rationalism. They have destroyed one the one of the richest countries on earth!
We have a national crisis on our hands and we are re-arranging the deck chairs on the titanic. We bicker and fight amongst ourselves to work out who is to blame. We blame dole bludgers for not working when there is no work to be had. We blame pensioners for not saving up in their youth to pay for their retirements, we blame middle income people in middle suburbia for refusing to sell up their homes – not their house but their home, that place that holds their life-time of memories – and move away from friends, family and support networks. But we never blame those who are really to blame, our outstandingly inept, and dare I say it, treasonous governments, of both persuasions, who have sold our country down the drain.
Come join me and let’s work out how to fix this!