Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce has ‘stuck to his guns’ on housing affordability by again telling Australians to move to regional areas if they want to own a home before they die.
The National Party leader caused an outcry on Tuesday when he made similar comments in response to an international study that ranked Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane and Perth among the top 20 least affordable cities in the world.
“I’m sticking to my guns on this one. It annoys me when people say, ‘Oh, we’ve got a housing crisis in Australia’. I say, no mate we’ve got a housing crisis in Sydney, and you know why? Because everyone wants to live there,” Mr Joyce told 4BC radio in Brisbane on Thursday.
He repeated his advice to move to the country: “The price of a house, average house, is slightly over $300,000. The thing about that is, you get to actually own it in your life.”
The Tamworth-based politician angrily denied the idea that moving to the country is difficult because of a lack of jobs.
“Bulls***! Of course there’s jobs here,” he said, laughing. “Of course there’s jobs here – and everywhere else! Unless you don’t want a job. And if you don’t want a job, well, those people can live everywhere as well.”
He used his career before politics to argue that moving is possible. “The thought that I’d just say to my employer at the time, ‘Aw mate, I can’t go to Charleville [Queensland], my legs will fall off, you know’. You go out there and you make the best of it.”
Much of the national debate over housing affordability is centred in the capital cities, especially Sydney and Melbourne, where prices are many times more expensive than in small towns and regional hubs such as Bendigo, Busselton, Geelong, Tamworth, Warragul and Wollongong.
But many compared Mr Joyce’s comments to those of former treasurer Joe Hockey, who told young people to “get a good job that pays good money” if they wanted to buy a house.
Responding to Mr Joyce’s original comments where he said people should work up the “gumption” to move to regional areas, Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen accused the Deputy PM and the entire Turnbull government of being “out of touch” and talking about the issue without any real action.
“His big answer to housing affordability is to move to the bush. Well, Barnaby Joyce, take a good look at yourself – you’ve got this wrong, your government’s got it wrong, you’re out of touch. It’s time to have a policy instead of lecturing people,” Mr Bowen said on Wednesday.
“Some people who grew up in the city like to move to the country. But it’s not an option for everyone, and it shouldn’t be this government’s only answer when it comes to housing affordability.
“It’s time for this government to actually act. Instead of lecturing people, instead of telling people to get a better job or get rich parents or move to Charleville, this government should actually have a housing affordability policy. It should deal with negative gearing.”
Real estate agent admits to lying about prices
Meanwhile, a real estate agent in Victoria has openly admitted to underquoting after being caught by a state government taskforce.
Marty Rankin of Village Real Estate Agency in Melbourne described his behaviour to the ABC as “lies”, and warned other agents: “The game’s up.”
‘Underquoting’ is when an agent tells a prospective buyer that a property will sell for a price the agent knows is below market value in order to encourage interest in the property. It is commonly used to attract more buyers to an auction.
Another Victorian agent told The New Daily last year that “the vast majority” of the industry nationwide is involved in it, possibly as many as 90 per cent.
Mr Rankin, whose agency was fined $15,000 under new Victorian laws, said the practice goes hand-in-hand with overquoting — the practice of exaggerating the potential sales price to a seller.
He told the ABC: “Underquoting is a by-product of over-quoting, and the over-quoting is where the lie starts from the agents to the vendors, all the lies start after that.”