THE Great Australian Dream of home ownership is getting further and further away from an increasing number of Australians.
Statistics indicate the overall percentage of people owning their own home in Australia has declined from about 70 per cent in the 1960s to about 64 per cent at the end of last year.
That figure alone is not necessarily cause for alarm, but if you drill down deeper into the Australian Bureau of Statistics figures it shows a dramatic decline in home ownership for citizens aged 25 to 34, as well as for those nearing retirement.
This week at Committee 4 Wagga's special one-day business summit, featuring a range of expert panellists, we heard that Wagga is well positioned to become "the most liveable regional city".
With Wagga's enviable geographic position halfway between Australia's two largest cities, as well as the NSW government's special activation precinct initiative aiming to deliver 6000 new jobs in the coming years, the outlook is extremely positive.
However, the optimism was tempered somewhat when discussion turned to housing availability and affordability.
"With that shortage of housing we've seen the pricing of housing and house affordability diminish," the Commonwealth Bank of Australia's head of regional and agribusiness Paul Fowler said.
"With 2500 job vacancies and the infrastructure projects in place and the additional thousands of roles that will create, where are those people going to live?"
One of the biggest advantages regional Australia, including Wagga, has always had over the major metropolitan centres is housing affordability.
But with demand far outstripping supply resulting in soaring house prices and low vacancy rates, this situation threatens to put the brakes on Wagga's progress.
The housing crisis afflicting not just Wagga but towns and cities across the country is starting to emerge as a key issue in this election campaign.
In recent days the both the Labor Party and Greens have announced their policies for helping middle and lower-income residents crack the property market, while the Coalition has promised to expand on its existing First Home Buyer Super Saver Scheme and Home Guarantee Scheme.
In seeking to address the critical issue of housing affordability, our political parties must show restraint and not just throw money at the problem with vote-catching policies.
Encouraging people without financial stability into decades-long mortgages through seductive low-deposit schemes ultimately does them no favours.
The more prudent course of action in addressing affordability is to work with state and local governments to increase the supply of housing.
All the best for the week ahead,
Ross Tyson, editor
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