Culture

Joe Hockey’s “Advice” On How Young People Can Buy A House Is More Than Out Of Touch – It’s Malicious

"Get a good job that pays good money." (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻

If, like myself, you didn’t invent Facebook or weren’t born into Eastern European royalty, your prospects for eventually owning your own home are looking a little iffy at the moment. With the nation’s two largest cities in a housing bubble, according to Treasury Secretary John Fraser, and a staggering percentage of new mortgages being taken out by wealthy property investors rather than people who just want to buy a house, young people’s home ownership plans are becoming more and more dependent on unorthodox methods like marrying a wealthy dowager widow, saving the life of a beggar who turns out to be a powerful genie, or pursuing a career as a troll, which at least gives you a good reason to be living under a bridge.

But lamenting rising house prices is probably something most young people aren’t doing too much of, given they’re flat out even affording a place to rent. A Fairfax report released earlier today revealed that there are only five Sydney suburbs where people earning the minimum wage can afford to rent a one-bedroom flat, and they’re all out on the absolute western fringes of the greater Sydney basin. Someone on the minimum wage wanting to live within cooee of the city is looking at a 70 hour work week at the very least, and that’s not taking the cost of transport into account.

It was into these volatile and depressing waters that Treasurer and human bumblebee Joe Hockey bellyflopped this morning, telling a Sydney press conference that housing affordability isn’t actually a problem, because people are still buying houses.

“If housing were unaffordable in Sydney, no one would be buying it,” Hockey said, a piece of logic that makes perfect sense until you replace the word “housing” with literally any other expensive thing, like “Lamborghinis” or “private islands”.

But it was his advice to young would-be homeowners that really took the cake, put a ridiculous markup on it and gave it a reality show where insufferable couples compete to renovate the cake for maximum resale value. “The starting point for a first home buyer is to get a good job that pays good money. If you’ve got a good job that pays good money and you have security in relation to that job, then you can go to the bank and borrow money and that’s readily affordable.” Which, okay, firstly:

As plenty of people have pointed out already, Hockey’s latest Monopoly-man moment is a fascinating insight into the mind of a guy already famed for his unique perspective on life, like his assertion that “the poorest people either don’t have cars or actually don’t drive very far in many cases” from last year. The Treasurer’s seeming inability to understand that not everyone grew up wealthy or with the means to become wealthy is so obvious, that ‘recognising Joe Hockey as being out of touch with the average wage earner’ is due to join Reading, wRiting and ‘Rithmetic as an indicator of a child’s basic cognitive function.

More than that, though, telling young people to go out and “get a good job” is a bit rich coming from a Treasurer who tried to rip apart the social safety net for everyone under 30 last year — a guy in a government that tried to cut off welfare for young jobless people for six months at a time, make them apply for 40 jobs a month, and is presiding over the highest long-term unemployment figures in sixteen years.

Like Christopher Pyne trying to tear down the equitable university system which gave him an education, or Tony Abbott telling casual workers not to work on weekends, Hockey’s comments demonstrate more than a tendency to stick his foot in his mouth. It’s one thing to be out of touch with people’s difficulties; trying to kick people when they’re down and blaming them for not getting up seems downright malicious. You don’t get to undermine people’s ability to achieve economic independence and criticise them for it.

Feature image via Joe Hockey/Liberal. Yes, he even looks dodgy in his official press photos.