The head of Australia’s peak real estate lobby group has come under fire for telling renters struggling to find affordable housing to get a second job.
Real Estate Institute of Australia president Malcolm Gunning made the comments in an interview with ABC’s 7.30 broadcast on Thursday night.
The program tackled the question of whether Australia is in the midst of a rental affordability crisis, with rents in major cities outpacing wage growth and the cost of living.
The number of Australians renting has grown steadily over the past two decades, with renters now making up nearly a third of all households.
Mr Gunning denied that there was a rental affordability crisis, telling ABC journalist Michael Vincent that struggling renters should negotiate for lower rents, move outside the major cities, get extra work or cut back on spending.
“I don’t accept there’s a rental affordability crisis. Most of the stats are focused on Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne,” the inner-city Sydney real estate agent said.
“If you want to live on the fringe of the city, it’s affordable. If you want to live closer in the city, it is expensive.”
If moving away from the city wasn’t an option, Mr Gunning’s advice was to pick up a second job.
“Do the hard yards. Maybe even, God forbid, get two jobs. Okay? Now your viewers will hate that. But many, many people do it. A lot of our migrants work a couple of jobs,” he said.
Housing affordability research, including Anglicare’s recent Rental Affordability Index, shows that renting in Australian cities is increasingly unaffordable, even for average income earners.
Watch the segment:
It’s not the first time the REIA boss has made controversial comments about housing affordability.
In 2018, Mr Gunning made headlines for blaming millennials for Australia’s housing affordability problem, calling them “generation selfish”.
Mr Gunning’s comments prompted a swift backlash online.
“Mr Gunning must be living in another universe”, one Twitter user wrote.
“Looking forward to hearing Malcolm Gunning’s other policies – can’t afford food, don’t eat; can’t afford a doctor, die; can’t afford electricity, send your children down a coal mine and do a DIY power plant in your — oh you have no home,” another wrote.
Looking forward to hearing Malcolm Gunning's other policies – can't afford food, don't eat; can't afford a doctor, die; can't afford electricity, send your children down a coal mine and do a DIY power plant in your – oh, you have no home
— Tara (@Tara_Vern) September 6, 2018
Malcolm Gunning must be living in another universe, as an Agent of 40 yrs his words are ill advised if someone can get a 2nd job there is enough stress on families battling high utility prices no wage increases to keep up, Co profits are at record high & trickle down not working https://t.co/70EzTnnuZy
— Keith Sutherland (@PointyEnd_Bgo) September 7, 2018