Deputy Prime Minister and National Party Leader Barnaby Joyce says the solution to astronomical house prices in Sydney is to move to rural Australia.
Mr Joyce told ABC Radio National on Tuesday that people needed to find the “gumption” to buy property and live in more remote areas.
“We believe that houses will always be incredibly expensive if you can see the Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge, just accept that,” Mr Joyce said.
“What people have got to realise is that houses are much cheaper in Tamworth, houses are much cheaper in Armidale, houses are much cheaper in Toowoomba.
“I did move out west so I can say this, if you’ve got the gumption in you and you decide to move to Charleville — you’re going to have a very affordable house.
“But if you say ‘well I want a really affordable house in Mosman’, yeah well don’t we all.”
Mr Joyce’s comments came as recently elected NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian vowed to improve housing affordability in her time in office.
It also came as new data ranked Sydney as the second least affordable city in the world to buy a house. Wincaribbee, Tweed Heads (both NSW) and Melbourne also featured in the top 10.
Mr Joyce did concede that prices in Sydney were “incredibly expensive” and beyond the budget of many.
“Little old bush accountant, a very simple rule of thumb for me was that you add up all the income in your household and you multiply it by three and that’s about the value of the house you should be looking at,” Mr Joyce said.
“Now we see in Sydney it’s 12 [times the average income] and that of course means it’s basically beyond the potential of many people to buy.
“But … there are lots of places [to live] in Australia and my family had to make the choice to go out west and make your way.
“I get annoyed when people talk about that the only house apparently that you can buy is in Sydney, and it’s too dear.
Joyce is ‘out of touch’
NSW Labor leader Luke Foley dismissed Mr Joyce’s comments as “completely out of touch”.
He said that houses were also unaffordable for those not seeking Sydney Harbour Bridge or Opera House views.
“There are over 2 million residents in western Sydney and they’re not looking for harbour views, they’re just looking for a place to call their own,” Mr Foley told the ABC.
“And currently, a nurse married to a copper; that couple can’t afford to buy a first home in Sydney on the salaries they’re on.
“Relocating to regional areas is something that occurs all the time. It can be a very good thing for people. They ought to be encouraged to do so.
“But the notion that Sydney can just empty itself, leaving those people with harbour views to remain only, is just living in a fantasy world, quite frankly. It’s way too simplistic, he’s completely out of touch with the lives of millions of Sydneysiders.”