Home ownership in Australia
Home ownership is a key cultural icon in Australia. Australians have traditionally aspired to the modest Great Australian Dream of "owning a detached house on a fenced block of land." Home-ownership has been seen as creating a responsible citizenry; according to a former Premier of Victoria, "The home owner feels that he has a stake in the country, and that he has something worth working for, living for, fighting for."
The Australian government has encouraged broad-scale home-ownership through tax incentives(although mortgage interest is not tax deductible as, for example, in the USA); as a result, 70% of households own their own homes — one of the largest proportions of any nation. The prevalence of home-ownership has meant that renters and owners are not divided as sharply along income lines as they are elsewhere: 55% of low-income households and 80% of high-income households are home-owners.
In the past, home-ownership has been a sort of equalizing factor; in postwar Australia, immigrant Australians could often buy homes as quickly as native-born Australians. Additionally, Australian suburbs have been more socio-economically mixed than those in America and to a lesser extent Britain. In Melbourne, for instance, one early observer noted that "a poor house stands side by side with a good house."
Home-ownership in modern Australia, however, is becoming more exclusive. The ratio of Australians' average income to the price of the average home was at an all-time low in the late 1990s. Young people are buying homes at the lowest rates ever, and changes in work patterns are reducing many households' ability to retain their homes. Simultaneously, homes that are being constructed are increasing in size and holding fewer people on average than in the past. The fraction of houses with four or more bedrooms has increased from 15 percent in 1971 to greater than 30 percent in 2001.
In June 2011, The CEO of ANZ Bank, one of the big 4 banks in Australia and New Zealand said housing should not be a vehicle for speculative price growth, but simply as shelter. He also criticized the Federal Government's policy on negative gearing tax breaks which increases the focus on housing as an investment rather than shelter and decrease affordability.
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- Badcock, Blair and Andrew Beer. Home Truths: Property Ownership and Housing Wealth in Australia. Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 2000, p128.
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- Sydney Morning Herald
- Sydney Morning Herald