Australia

Is Industrial Strife a Sign of Housing Stress?

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Industrial disputes – including a spate of on and off again strikes at national carrier Qantas – are becoming once again a frequent feature of the Australian media. Unions are pushing for wage rises in the face of the falling buying power of the fixed wage (as costs of living rise). Those wage push pressures are being resisted by businesses trying to stay afloat in a very ordinary domestic economy and amidst rising global competition.    read more »

Dense Urban Thinking Down Under

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Ku-ring-gai is a piece of suburban paradise in the inner rings of Sydney. A district of modest homes and quaint small-scale shopping districts, it sits near one of the last remaining stretches of blue-gum forest inside Australia’s largest city. You can still catch the occasional cockatoo luxuriating on a branch.  read more »

Waging a Green Jihad on Suburban Homes

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It seems rarely a month passes without some new assault on the lifestyle and housing choice preferred by the overwhelming majority of Australians: the detached suburban home. Denigrated by a careless media as ”McMansions” or attacked as some archaic form of reckless housing choice which is suddenly “no longer appropriate” (according to some planning or environmental fatwa), the detached home is under a constant assault of falsely laid allegation and intellectual derision.  read more »

Applying Lessons from the UK Riots to Australia

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Many commentators correctly attribute the UK rioting to decades of misgoverning and miseducating youth. Contributing to this has been the breakdown of family discipline, the replacement of working fathers as role models and the creation of a culture of entitlement. Tony Blair has talked about a breakdown in public morality. Less convincingly, many on the left have attributed the cause to the social expenditure cuts of the Cameron Government, cuts that have actually made barely a dent in the proceeding Blair/Brown years of tumescent expenditure growth.  read more »

High-density Housing Reflects Dense Government Thinking

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Citizens in Australia’s major cities are becoming increasingly unhappy about what they perceive as the escalating deterioration in their quality of life - traffic congestion, overloaded public transport, unaffordable housing for young people, increases in the costs of basic services and overcrowding. There is little doubt that recent election results and unfavourable opinion polls are partly an expression of this dissatisfaction.  read more »

Queensland’s Future: Diverse and Dispersed

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I was recently asked to outline my thoughts on how the Queensland urban landscape might look 40 to 50 years from now.  Go on, you can laugh.  I did too.  It’s hard enough to forecast the next 12 months, let alone two generations away, but I’ve given it a go, of sorts, so here it is:  read more »

Banana-nomics

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The price of bananas is again making headlines as it pushes up inflation and threatens rising interest rates. But what’s the price of the humble ‘nana got to do with property markets? Plenty.

Banana prices have risen almost 500% since Cyclone Yasi wiped out much of north Queensland’s banana crop earlier this year. The immutable laws of supply and demand dictate that when supply falls relative to demand, prices will rise.  read more »

Australians Are Getting A Carbon Tax They Don’t Want

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Within weeks, the Australian government is expected to announce a package of measures including a carbon tax to stimulate renewable energy sources and abate carbon emissions. Officials, activists and journalists around the world will hail Australia as a courageous and forward-looking country, ready to take its responsibilities seriously. Some will rebuke their own governments for being less bold. Yet they will ignore an inconvenient detail. According to opinion surveys, at least 60 per cent of Australians strongly oppose the tax.  read more »

Education as an Export

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A trade deficit is a negative balance between a nation’s imports and its exports, so a country with a trade deficit is spending more on imports than it is receiving for selling its exports. Is there any more that can be done to reduce this deficit over the course of time? One potential solution the US trade deficit would be to increase the attractiveness of its higher education institutions to international students, and to therefore increase the amount of money coming into the country. Money from abroad that is spent in the US, such as on tourism, or in this case, on education, is considered an export.  read more »

Inside Sydney's Central Business District: the Retail Core

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World famous for its beautiful harbour setting, Sydney’s Central Business District is undergoing a resurgence. As the hub of Australia’s finance sector, it stumbled during the global crisis. Office vacancies jumped from 5.7 per cent in early 2008 to 8.8 per cent in mid 2009, despite stable supply. Ultimately, though, Sydney was spared the worst, owing to its rise as a staging post for trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific region, which averted the havoc of Europe and North America. Recovery is now underway, if slowly.  read more »