Does every Australian have a right to decent housing? Governments might say so, but they’re not doing much to make it happen, writes Peter Spearritt in Inside Story
HOUSING waxes and wanes as a topic of public concern in Australia. During boom times, owner-occupiers rejoice in the rising value of their asset, though some worry that the younger generation will never be able to afford a home. When prices are in the doldrums, as at present, owner-occupiers get grumpy but prospective home purchasers – egged on by first homebuyer grants so popular with political parties facing an election – are out in force inspecting new estates on the urban fringes or apartments nearer the city centres.
In recent decades about a third of our dwellings have been owned outright, a third have mortgages attached, and a third are rented from private or, less commonly, public landlords. This was not always so. Just after the second world war well over half the population of Sydney and Melbourne were tenants, and overcrowding in most cities was rife. Returning soldiers, including some with unhappy memories of families being tossed out of their dwellings during the Great Depression, expected a better deal…
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