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Baby Boomer to Gen Y on home ownership

(Article by Sally Pepper)

Hello, I’ve heard that some of you are resentful and angry with our generation because we were able to buy houses and pay them off with one salary in a short time. Well I’m not sure that many of us were able to do it all that quickly but we were able to service a mortgage even at high interest rates on one salary. This meant that you, Gen Y had one parent who could, if they chose not to work full time outside the home, devote quite a lot of time to you in your early years when you needed it. Furthermore, the main bread winner and mortgage-servicing parent, usually the father, did not work the long hours expected now, which meant that actually both parents were able to spend a respectable amount of time with you, Gen Y, at that critical time called childhood.

Who pays for the cost of housing?

So, dear Gen Y, at least you were secure in growing up in a house you could call home and in many cases had a back yard to play in.

Whilst it is truly regrettable that you, Gen Y, will not secure houses of your own as did the Baby Boomers and many of Gen X, it is Gen Z and those who come after, who I feel really sorry for. They probably won’t even experience the pleasure of living in a home which their parents own or are paying off. They have spent or will spend time in crèches and child care as their parents frantically try to maintain two incomes to pay the rent on an apartment or, if they are lucky, to pay off a mortgage on a house with a small back yard on the city’s fringes.

We are all in this together

If you think logically, is it the fault of one generation for whom it was achievable to become the owner of a house with land on one salary, without working hellishly long hours, that the next generation can’t? Is it reasonable for that generation who benefited during childhood from the situation which brought this about, to resent the people with whom they shared this good fortune ?

The fact that Gen Y struggles now for home ownership actually impacts also on the previous generation, their parents, who in many cases, not without stress, still accommodate their adult children when the generation before that, Gen Y’s grand parents, were free of this responsibility at the same stage of their lives.

This was possible because teenagers and young adults could afford to rent or buy a roof over their heads and now they can’t.

As you can see, the decline in ease of attaining home ownership impacts differently on all generations but it impacts all in a negative way. The majority of Baby Boomers get nothing out of this situation and did nothing to bring it about. The dispossession of Gen Y and those beyond is nothing for any of us to feel satisfied about. It is a crisis! In fact the Baby Boomers and some of Gen X largely raised Gen Y, thus it would be perverse and pathological in some way for them not to want them to have at least what the previous generation had! Not to be able to pass on the expectation of home ownership is a terrible failure.

But this is not where the stripping of the hope of real estate ownership from ordinary Australians ends.

Government Stealing your inheritance to pay for Aged Pension

Recently there have been suggestions that the family home be assessed for eligibility for the Age Pension. Some of Gen Y may applaud this, but what it could easily mean is that the family home has to be sold to provide for people in retirement or a reverse mortgage has to be taken out to achieve the same thing. Your despised Baby Boomer parents may well end up without a family home to pass on to you, who so sorely need it! In Australia , the family home is a family’s main asset and this is the main opportunity for the next generation to gain a vestige of financial security. The family home which may have cost your parents only $20,000 -$50,000 when they were earning $10,000 – $15,000 a year could now be worth nearly $1,000,000, a dizzying inflated number that would have made any Baby Boomer gasp back in 1980. The trouble is that owning such an asset does not make the Baby Boomer rich or any less in need of an Age Pension in retirement. It is still the same home.

It is your inheritance!

This was your only chance and it could go.

No time for misplaced resentment

Don’t waste time idly resenting the ordinary rank and file Baby Boomers or Gen X. Neither has stolen from you. They want to hand on to you what is rightfully yours but it may become impossible.

High population growth, 60% from immigration and the selling of real estate overseas to much larger markets is placing enormous demand on housing in Australia. Both these factors are relentlessly pushing up prices. How will you catch up?

Growth pushers want to divide and conquer ordinary Australians

The people who push for this type of growth in demand for real estate love it when kids hate their parents’ generation for having it easy where they don’t. Growth spruiker, Bernard Salt, ridiculed widows living in ordinary houses in ordinary suburbs, saying they were "rattling around" in them and intimating that they should move out.

There has been a lot of propaganda against the Baby Boomer generation who are largely ordinary people who made some sacrifices in order to attain home ownership (interest rates were very high at times) and on the whole did their best in the situation in which they found themselves. They did not steal from you. You were part of it, you were there too ! You were beneficiaries in fact. We would like this situation back. We must regain our autonomy and our unity as a society and get back our relative equality.

Dannielle Harnett, Mon, 2014-02-10 21:27

yes Steve there is also big changes afoot in China right now with the recent generational change in the communist party. Trillions of dollars are currently being unlocked into foreign markets such as Australia and Canada.

The special visa program of wealth immigration into Canada has been so over subscribed by mainlanders bending the rules and applying through Hong Kong that the application centre has been closed for 12 months under a Tsunami of applications. Canada's housing market has now been so distorted by foreign investment in their residential housing market that locals are now spending 70% of their income on housing. Rich mainlanders now own entire suburbs, many houses sit empty while Canadian workers are forced to live hours from their workplaces and massive salary commitments to basic accommodation has effectively left them as the working poor.

With Hong Kong bringing in legislation to deter foreign purchases and Canada closing their special visa application process at the same time as the communist party is liberating trillions of dollars of private wealth - the Australian property market is in the eye of the storm for a flow of cash into our housing of a size that has never been seen before.

Our government both incumbent and otherwise are so parochial that they don't seem to grasp the size of this issue.
What has been sold can NEVER be unsold!

... by Chinese, Poms, Indians, and our politicians are selling us out.

Reckon she's owed a big apology.

I've spoken to at least a few Baby Boomers genuinely concerned about house prices and the availability of housing to my generation. While many aren't, and I've met some whose comments filled me with utter revulsion, at least SOME are. I remember speaking to one older lady while waiting for pizza who was concerned about the future our my generation and our inability to get a home. She wished it wasn't like that and while a home-owner herself, wanted to see other people prosper too.

I was actually quite shocked to see so many people quite a bit older than me at Victoria First.

At least some Boomers will support me and speak up for us.

I don't have the same expectation from some other classes of investors in real estate at the moment.

Good point Sally, we are all in this together. And whatever mistakes previous generations of Australians have made - though either bad actions, or inaction - are now coming home to roost. Those retiring now, who had the benefit of massive economic growth, great careers (due to that growth) free education, generous super (not the measly pensions their parents had to survive on) will now face the same uncertainties that their children and grand-children face. Having allowed many jobs to go OS in exchange for cheap goodies, and having burdened their kids with education debts and high house prices, and expensive privatised utilities, they are now hoping to skip the scene with their cashed up funds, highly valued house and live comfortably leaving everyone else to clean up the mess (not all of course - but some - perhaps even many?).

I am very sorry for these people, because I fear greatly that their expectations will not be met. I seriously suspect that as the economy crashes here (and probably globally) that their "investments" will evaporate (as they did in the GFC) and they will have to experience the full horror of the system they have left behind rather than be insulated as they are no doubt expecting.

I know quite a few people at or near retirement age who are finding the current corporate environment (callous, "flexible", demanding) that is now endemic - and which they helped bring into existence - too unpleasant to cope with, so they are either retiring or expecting to retire soon - happy to leave their younger colleagues to deal with the mess, lack of care, and pressure to work for as little as possible, whilst producing as much as possible and still going further into debt.

Given all this I really feel that there may well be bad feelings towards baby-boomers, but perhaps, just perhaps, the younger generations will have more heart than the older ones, and will forgive them, look after them, even with all the massive problems and poverty they have been left with, and hopefully, eventually fix the system creating instead of a system of selfishness and greed (and there is no denying that that is what we have) one of compassion, care and community.


(sorry Sally for some reason I cannot reply to your comment below, so I will do it here).

I accept that most are not in charge. But some were, even if a small minority of privileged people, and I still hold that they will have to live with the consequences of our impending civil collapse. Even these elite will not be insulated as they expect.

And perhaps there is an argument that the less elite baby-boomers (on the whole) could have been much more active in their resistance of many of the negative changes that have taken place - in the interests of their children and grand children. But there is no doubt that have been manipulated, it is just that since the 70's the problems and manipulation have been blindingly obvious, so excuses don't wash so well. To their credit there was some action around protecting the environmen, particularly in the 70's, etc, but in the last decade or two - during which the boomers were perhaps holding most positions of power and authority, a lot has been stripped away, and since it was on their watch, the boomers are ripe for blame - justifiably or not.


Good response, Matt. You beat me to it. There is a lot of resentment against Boomers, A lot.

It is unfair that people are being coerced to move out of their lifelong home. Where I live, the suburb was created tailored for families. Decent family homes, nice blocks, open spaces. Now it is just retirees who collect pensions, despite massive property capital gains, and when they ocassionaly sell, accept not a cent less than 'astronomical' They generally rather let the home go empty for another year, than make less of a profit. I would have to work twice as hard as they ever did (they are working class, not ex-doctors), to just secure a dogbox in a crappy new unit, while they hold on to their 3-4 bedroom home, most of it unused. I will have a smaller family than them, but my two kids will have to grow up crammed in a small house, sharing a room.

So yes, their space IS going to waste. There is a premium on land now. There is a premium on location. They let this happen. They cheered it. They were happy to have working people have to move away from where the work and schools are to raise a family. Now they are moaning that people are after their homes. Now the government is having to move resources where they are more needed and questioning why people have such a VALUABLE resource when they don't actually need it.

Well, DUH!

I spent ages debating with boomers, that rising property prices MUST be paid for some way. It could not possibly be pure gain. If you're asset becomes more and more valuable, you have to EXPECT people to come after it. If your space becomes more and more needed to keep the country going, you have to EXPECT people to come after it.

A friend of mine went to an open for inspection, for a small unit he may be lucky to afford, and the queue of people literally went down the street.

Land is very expensive, it is in high demand. When it is in such high demand, do you think that the state will hold the same attitutes towards retirees holding this land as they did when it was much cheaper?

I disagree that 'babyboomers' should be held responsible. No-one was consulted as successive governments, beginning with Fraser, removed restrictions on overseas purchase of housing in Australia. No-one was consulted as successive governments, but notably the Howard, Rudd and Gillard governments increased immigration to massive proportions.

The majority of 'baby-boomers' would be the last to endorse this high immigration and foreign investment. Almost no-one but 'high flyers' does.

It would be crazy to then reward the private and government maggots who have forced on the rest of us overpopulation and high housing prices and a real-estate land-speculation economy where everything costs too much. To force babyboomers out of their houses to reward those who caused these problems would only encourage more of the same high immigration and removal of local protection for housing and land stock.

What would both punish the people who have invested in their gross manipulation of population and democracy in Australia would be the stabilisation of the population. Immediately land-prices would decline because pressure and demand would decline, therefore inflation would drop. Those who have benefited from the inflation would lose their financial power over government and other institutions like banks. That would give small business and ordinary people much lower costs of living and bigger margins for survival and profit.

Finally, to move babyboomers out of their homes is to subject elderly people to one of the biggest stressors there is. We are constantly warned of the rise in dementia among elderly people. Well, the first thing to go is orientation in space/place. People can continue on for ages, even with quite seriously failing memories, if they are not moved away from the homes and streets they memorised when they were younger.

Move those people out and they may immediately become candidates for expensive nursing homes which will soak up any inheritance for their children.

Those who call for pushing elderly people around, using Bernard Salt's et al's aguments blaming those people for the impact of land speculation, seem to be serving the cause of our oppressors by succumbing to a misplaced desire for revenge. We should treat elderly people well and respectfully, as we should treat everyone. Unfortunately, successive Australian governments, with the help of corporate press and private land-speculating industries, have set a very poor example in elderly bashing.

A the risk of furthering a generation battle by categorizing people according to age , it must be remembered that Baby Boomers are people who 30 years ago were in their 20s and 30s. It would be interesting to know with hindsight what they were supposed to do. Should they not have purchased houses when they had the opportunity? Should they have spoken out more as their own working conditions gradually worsened? At what point should they/could they have taken action? What would this action have been?

I am sensing in Dennis’ post an underlying resentment which is directed towards a whole lot of people he doesn’t know. Taking that attitude is not constructive and in fact could be quite paralyzing. As you, Dennis intimate that Baby Boomers’ actions or inactions are responsible for your situation now, then if you are Gen X or Gen Y then you must be responsible for Gen Z and beyond. What are you doing for them now to ensure that their future is bearable or not worse than your present ? Australia’s standard of living is in decline, that is clear as is our quality of life. This is happening right now. Every day it is a little worse. You will experience heavier traffic, longer commute times , inadequate services and infrastructure, loss of open space, a deteriorating natural environment ,the eroding or working conditions etc. You are here watching this and living through it just like the rest to of us. Do you really think that the Australian people can save their country if they expend energy resenting one group who happened to be young at a different time to you? Much as the corporate media tries to fragment us across culture, age , sex , we are still the people who live here.

(By the way you are quite unrealistic if you expect anyone selling a house to sell it to a stranger for any less than the optimum price. We all choose to whom we give charity. Why should a person selling their most valuable asset and who presumably wants to leave something to their children, give a large amount of charity to a stranger , one who is possibly buying a house as a 5th investment property! Sorry, it’s preposterous. )

If my daughter grew up into a world where there is little freedom, surveillance and tracking everywhere, I would understand her generation blaming mine. I would show the work I've done trying to fight it, and maybe she'll think "well, Dad tried", but I wouldn't expect, not for a minute, for them to treat me different and not judge my generation as a group. Judging people as a group is often useful practice. So yes, I am actually aware that the apathy of my generation may cause resentment towards me, and I'm doing all I can to stop it. It may not be enough due to the apathy of my peers.

Secondly, I don't actually expect retirees to not ask for anything less than top dollar, of course. I was pointing out that this is a fact which results in situations where we have to re-evaluate needs and wants when it comes to space. I do reserve the right to feel irritated though. Just because what they do is legal, and "part of the system", doesn't mean people have to accept it as moral. I don't care if the law says its legal and free market capitalism says its good, these are values which don't serve our needs now. Things like that must be evaluated in context of the time and place. They didn't anticipate this change. More accurately, they thought this social crisis wouldn't need a solution that involved them, despite the fact they may have been contributing. Or they failed to realise there was a crisis.

Thats the nature of things. Surely the masses of retirees, living in family homes on their own in my suburb, where the school is closed down because people who want to start families can't afford to move here, would have realised something is odd? Something amiss? Or did they just accept the young people can't get decent homes, shrug their shoulders and move on and think that all will be right anyway. The younguns will just live in with their children until their children are 30 in bedsits and be happy to travel an hour towards work and not bother to cast an eye in their direction? Did they think that they could destroy backyards by selling them for profit, so they can continue to live a lifestyle that working people can't get, create more debt, and not have people say 'enough is enough'?

A bit of self introspection and a bit more "hey, do you think this will end up meaning...." would have gone a LONG way during the 15 years or so this crisis has been building. Sadly, its human nature to do that, to believe those who tell you want you want to hear, to accept the impossible model of the world where you become rich defing logic, where you can take from others and they'll just accept it. Which just highlights the need for people to be very careful what they believe,how they model the world.

If you stand in peoples way. They will knock you down. Values are re-evaluated. Suddenly, the 'right' to stay in your own home doesn't have the value it did before. I note that the UK is considering a similar scheme.

It's all well and good to argue for lower immigration, but I need a solution soon, and I don't see the anti-immigration movement gaining ground fast enough to be useful. I think the far right are the only ones with a cohesive argument, but most people oppose them, even those who want to cut immigration! At least this is a potential plan which has analogues in other countries and could be put into practice soon.

Lastly, intergenerational warfare isn't new, didn't the 60's generation go to war against their parents too?

Let me put forward this outrageous idea:

If the history of Australia since white settlement was to be summed up in one sentence, perhaps it could be this: "a failure to accept responsibility".

According to many Australians (for a long time anyway) white settlers were not really responsible for what happened to Aboriginal people here - whites were just ignorant, manipulated victims themselves (apparently). The lie of this was fought by Indigenous communities for decades - culminating in finally receiving a formal apology nearly 6 years ago to the day. Finally (after too long) it was acknowledged that aborigines were not responsible for their own slaughter and stolen generations. That perhaps many everyday white people had gone along with (or even contributed to) the slaughter, poisonings, etc, and yes, many of them did benefit from this in various ways.

Now we have a similar case with Baby Boomers. If Gen Y are impoverished debt slaves, it is (apparently) not the Baby Boomer's fault, they are not responsible (despite the fact they inherited a reasonable system from their parents). Well whose fault is it then? Certainly not the 22 year olds who now face paying one millions dollars for a basic family home in Mt Waverly (check the sales prices - this is no overstatement) on a part-time salary with union laws that make striking in many cases illegal (eg: once an EBA is signed)

Really Boomers, you need to face the facts that evil needs to be resisted. And the failure to resist it is just that - a failure!

Take the evil of negative gearing (welfare for the rich) which boomers did go along with and not universally decry - perhaps it was because most of them benefited directly or indirectly (through either investments or just plain house price rises). This is just one example. Can you see the pattern!

Imagine if the Germans after WWII claimed: "it is not our fault, we were manipulated, we are not in anyway responsible for Hitler and his atrocities". Obvious rubbish - many German citizens at the time did play a role. The honourable thing to do is to admit it - and then apologise. Not pretend that they had no responsibility at all.

How about a little less hubris from our boomers, and a little more humility and contrition? Then perhaps how about some action to help try and fix this mess? How about some people on the streets? How about some boomers outside Trade Minister Rob's office at 12.00 tomorrow. How about hitting the streets for things like March Against Monsanto (mostly young people there I noticed). Or is that all too hard? We will see when March in March comes around how many boomers are out there.

... but not simply that.

An apology needs to be encompass sincere, accurate recognition of the problem that then leads to effective appropriate action. Otherwise it's just a platitude to cover over yet more of the same - as was KRudd's apology.

It will be hard to get any boomers to enact such sincere apology. They've either done well from these conditions and are neither inclined to risk a jot of it nor able to see through the denial that underpins their existence, or they've been excluded from and alienated by the plunder.

Could somene please let us know what crime was committed by a whole generation against another that requres a collective apology? Are we talking genocide, murder, theft, aggavated cruelty? Please enlighten me.

I don't see it the same as with Rudds apology. Rudd apologised because we changed our morality, not because of error of judgement.

The Boomers made an error of judgement, I'll post why later today. People who support negative gearing really believe they are doing us a favour. People who buy houses, tear them down and subdivide really believe they are offering opportunities and making housing affordable. I explained how it actually drives up prices to a real estate agent and he honestly didn't get it. His brain literally stalled. My mother used to keep pushing me to buy investment properties and rent them, she believed this was doing good for people. I doubt they will apologise for doing the right thing.

The Growth lobby aren't malevolent, they really believe they are doing the right thing. If their scheme fails, they'll just change their tune and pretend it was that way all along.

Yes, I should emphasise here, that this is not so much a matter of laying blame (as said - I think Gen Y might just forgive the boomers and focus on fixing the problems) - but rather of accepting blame! Many of the boomers, and perhaps many Gen X's and some Gen Y's, are lost in a sea of selfishness - and the first step out would seem to me to be - as you suggest - recognition of this. It is fundamentally selfishness that leads to inaction and lack of concern regarding the plight of others, allowing one to "turn a blind eye".

Occupy was a wake up call in regard to this, but luckily for many the police soon cleared this blot from their sight, and thus allowing their consciences to soundly sleep once again.


Rudd apologised because there was a change in morality. The boomers made an error of judgement, thats different. The boomers aren't unique though, its just their influence is the most visible and most pronounced due to circumstances they inherited.

The situation today is partly what people asked for. But I don't think its due to an evil. It's due to our morality. Although I do find Boomer morality baffling, and at times ugly and evil.

I spoke to someone, Gen X, some years ago when the boom was taking off. He mentioned his investment property, and how rising prices were fantastic and they will just keep going up and up. Obviously a RE toady. I asked him how, if prices were going to just keep skyrocketing, how people will afford it in the future. He said wages would go up, and I pointed out that wages weren't going up the same rate, and if they did, prices would too, so whats the gain? So I asked again, if your property skyrockets, who's going to afford it? I said, how will your child afford it? He didn't have answers to the question. Didn't think about it. Just said that there will be people to buy it and she'll get a home.

So what we have is:

  1. A desire to sell ever inflated property, but NO idea who will pay; and
  2. No plan for how his child would be a home owner in this vision, apart from some vague notion that we might possibly be earning millions by then...

So he got what he asked for. We FOUND people to buy them at increasing prices, foreign investors, and we FOUND a way for his daughter to buy a home in the coming years, a tiny unit miles from work and subdivision. A solution was found to keep his model of the world viable.

Another example. Some retirees I spoke to (actually in relation to the sale of a property), said their generations philosophy (they are older than boomers) was to NEVER let go of property once you have it. I asked them, if retirees hold property, sometimes two or more, where the work is and schools were, where do you expect young people to go? I got a vague response, the kind you get when someones never considered it, about maybe buying further out is an option. I said, well if THEY never let go, what about their children? They said theirs would eventually free up and I said something like 'when?'. Then I got that look a cow gets when its been shown a card trick...

So here again, they are getting exactly what they asked for. They said the solution is when their homes are freed up. Now they are crying that the government is looking to free them up! How many times do people say "when the Boomers retire and move out, it will free property". I didn't see anyone say to this "what if they don't move out in time?".

Even with immigration, didn't people ask for this? The future of the world that I was told was necessary and an inevitability, was a future which could only made possible through mass immigration... Now they are complaining about it?

Generation analysts have also commented on this, that the Baby boomer generation have a kind of magical thinking, that what will happen is what SHOULD happen according to their morality. I would like them to accept there was a problem with their model. Won't happen though, we need a generational change.

Hi DennisK,

I agree with you about your assessment of people who want to sell to people overseas rather than to Australians in need of housing. However I don't see why you think they are responsible for the fact that this has become possible or a norm for the rich. And I don't know why you seem to think that such people typify babyboomers.

You write, "The situation today is partly what people asked for."

You then give an example of a middle-aged person who sought the opportunity to speculate on his property. (By the way there are plenty of young people who think this way too.) You say, "he got what he asked for. We FOUND people to buy them at increasing prices, foreign investors, and we FOUND a way for his daughter to buy a home in the coming years, a tiny unit miles from work and subdivision. A solution was found to keep his model of the world viable."

Who is "we"? Do you really think this was some kind of democratic movement?

I would put it to you that a very well-organised growth lobby devised this kind of economic benefit for itself, sold it to the media and to political parties (largely by showing them how they could enrich themselves through it). The political parties then, in government and opposition, colluded to make laws that would assist this speculative vision, to the great disbenefit of the majority of the population. The media which is invested in global property transactions and the television lifestyle programs etc then marketed this idea down the chain, turning the family home from shelter and social capital into a commodity. It was all snake oil except for those at the top, who controlled the initial investments. The bozos down the line, if they sold their homes for a lot of money, then had to pay tax to the state governments (which are very dependent on this) and then find somewhere else to live. They only way they can make any kind of profit, if they are lucky, is to downsize. If they are old they often find themselves isolated and traumatised by the move, poorer in social capital (well-known neighbours and services) and no better off financially.

Who benefits? The banks and the developers (which are more and more the same thing.)

There are many babyboomers who don't own houses and who struggle with high rents and to find employment or to survive on pensions. Women are well-represented within this number. Most women are quite poor and rely on the Commons to supplement their unreliable incomes. I don't like to reveal my personal circumstances on line but I assure you that I do not fall into the investment property circle.

Plenty of babyboomers share their houses and intend to pass them on. Inheritance laws in Australia, however, do permit parents to disinherit their children, and for spouses to inherit the family home instead of children. This kind of law is common in anglophone countries, but is uncommon in other countries, where most systems ensure that children inherit first, so property gets passed down to children. In the absence of children it goes back to the parents of the deceased. In this way land and other assets are kept within families, clans and localities, focusing power locally. In the absence of direct inheritors land goes back to the state. In such systems, the government also provides public housing and does most of the development, housing is perceived as a cost and population growth is relatedly perceived as a cost - making it very hard for growth lobbiests to establish. The Anglophone inheritance and land-tenure system, on the other hand, promotes the idea that land is a commodity to be improved and resold to the highest bidder. Such systems tend to accrue wealth and power in private hands in a process that would take me too long to explain here. Accompanying this value is the idea that we must all work in order to be worthwhile and that people who own lots of property and other assets somehow deserve to be in positions of power over those who must work for them and pay them rent. We have very poorly developed citizenship here, poor solidarity. The economic system tears families and clans apart, leaving citizens almost no social structure or capital to organise against bad laws. Most of the work I do and aims for is the reform of this system.

You write, "The situation today is partly what people asked for. But I don't think its due to an evil. It's due to our morality. Although I do find Boomer morality baffling, and at times ugly and evil."

The growth lobby is a highly organised transnationally basedcommercial phenomenon . I think it is pretty evil in its total dedication to affecting Australian politics in order to enrich its members. It may have within its ranks a few real-estate employees who haven't worked out what they are doing to the country, but I haven't met any. I have met a few apologetic ones, but they are dependent on the system for their incomes. Since I started exposing what they do, the Property Council of Australia has become a little more discreet, but only in 2010, this is what its plans were. They are shocking. Believe me, it has succeeded in those plans. Have a look at what a property council panel that included Bernard Salt had to say. Also shocking, remarkable in its disrespect for truth and citizens' welfare. Yet the ABC frequently promotes such people as 'experts'. For instance, recently Waleed Aly invited a number of people to participate in a panel to discuss population growth in Australia inBig Ideas for Australia: Growing Pains. However he privileged the growthists by putting them on stage, each with their microphone, but he put the President of SPA Victoria and Tasmania in the front row of the audience, and only offered her a roving microphone, which was snatched away from her lips when she started to make any point. I never got a chance to use it. Bernard Salt, in the mean time, was promoted as if he were some kind of disinterested and distinguished expert. The growth lobby originated the kind of talk which has given rise to the divide and conquer between generations. The growth lobby constructed this straw babyboomer man and it is successfully marketing it to a mystified and angry people.

The laws that made it possible to sell to foreigners in our country were changed by stealth, beginning with Fraser. Menzies privatised the housing industry. Whitlam tried to bring back substantial public housing and to bring down the cost by having the states undertake the land development for housing (which is what happens in France and many other countries in Europe). This was almost certainly a major source of Whitlam's unpopularity. Fraser started opening up the Foreign Investment laws and every pm after that opened them further. Now they are so wide open that Australia hardly functions as a national polity.

It would not be so bad if we had kept our immigration and working permits separate, as they do on the continent, which means that people come in for a year, buy a house but then discover they cannot work, so they sell it back into the total housing stock. The tax system erodes speculative profit so serial house buying and selling does not pay there.

Keating eroded foreign investment too but did made a slight gesture to protect built property, but even this protection was blown away under Howard or Rudd - can't remember which - both were pretty terrible. Currently land-clearing is encouraged by Foreign Investment policies that encourage new developments and housing over purchase of established housing.

Land and housing go to the best currency, which creates a two tiered system of rich foreigners and poor natives (people born here).

The average person has no idea of what is happening. They know they are being done over, but they don't understand how. This perception can be explained by the political theory of focused benefits and diffuse costs. The benefits to big asset holders (industries like property development, finance, building materials) of high immigration and wide-open foreign investment policy are focused. That means that the people in those industries know where the money comes from and how to maintain the flow. That is why the Property Council of Australia, the Real Estate institute, APop, the HIA and every state government are constantly finding ways to bring in more immigrants. For those who pay in tolls, taxes, high housing and commercial rents, high property prices, high student costs, high food, water, power costs, crowded roads, the way the system works is not very clear at all. It is easy to put them off with a false scent - such as to blame the baby boomers. Most people find it very hard to believe that their governments would not defend them from this kind of dispossession; it is like suggesting to them that their parents are evil. Environmentalists, wildlife defenders and people trying to protect their property rights and social capital in local areas are most aware of the link between population growth and property development because they are on the sharp end of the costs. How does someone who 'informs' themself by watching the ABC or reading the Australian, the Age, Herald Sun, or watching Seinfed, work out what is happening? All they hear is that growth is inevitable, that it's all really 'progress' therefore must be good for us, and that the baby boomers are being 'selfish'! In fact they hear all these lies from the cynical smiling lips of the property development and growth lobbyists first!

I would like to know how the average baby boomer would know what was happening in a country ruled by the Murdoch and Fairfax Press (both beneficiaries and drivers of the global housing market). Check out Australian and State parliamentarians. So many are mixed up in property development. Look at the structure of our political parties, e.g. the ALP - it is practically a land speculation entity - see I admit that I don't have the same info on the Libs or the Greens, but do you seriously think they are any different? Mr Rudd and Mr Swann, years ago in Queensland were important in putting the structures and investments in place that turned the ALP into a land-speculation phenomenon.

I guess you could call me a babyboomer, but I have been fighting this for years now, writing expose after expose. And most of the other people I know who are fighting for property rights and against growth are also babyboomers and most of them are women, actually. See: We all wonder where the hell the young people are to take over the fight. We assume that they are just as confused as the majority of the older folk.

Sorry this is so long. Very hard day and meant to go to bed and not write anything.

Hope I have defused some of this intergenerational hostility. More appropriate that it be inter class hostility.

Thanks for that enlightening exposition. There is no doubt manipulation has been taking place (as you explain). My concern is that this type of manipulation has always been going on, and always will go on. Thus as a community we need to be much more watchful of the stories that are told, and much more awake to and wary of manipulations. Acknowledging that we have been manipulated, and the consequences of this seems important to me (rather than denial).

I am not suggesting that Boomers are any better or worse people that Gen X's or Gen Y's, and I am aware that many are not well off, and some groups worse than others - the Vietnam vets for one, who have been treated terribly. And I am not suggesting that a generational war or blame game would be useful here, I am just suggesting that a little self reflection, and facing some honest truths, might be useful. One of these truths seems to be that the Boomer generation went along with a system of lies and distortions that was to their detriment, and also that of subsequent generations.

That all said, we do need to fix these problems urgently. And in this regard the attitudes of all generations needs to change - as you suggest our communities are not as strong as perhaps others in the world, and thus we need to take much more interest in what is happening, and be much more active in resisting.

I hope you have a better day tomorrow!


The other thing to keep in mind - which Sheila hints at - is that the younger generations are going to be (and many already are) very angry about their situation. Certainly the manipulators would like to direct this anger away from them to the Boomers as a group - and there is no doubt growing anger about our situation in Gen X (and Gen Y particularly).

An apology by Boomers and serious visible attempts to support them and to correct things is perhaps a very effective strategy to defuse that anger and redirect energies in more positive ways. Of course, I am not suggesting that an insincere apology be given just for these purposes, I am just pointing out what effect it might have.

I implore everyone to read Sheila Newman's comment headed "Why talk about Baby Boomers as if they are all rich and housed?". (quark, you can link to Sheila's comment as follows: <a href="#comment-116760">"Why talk about Baby Boomers as if they are all rich and housed?"</a> - Ed) It is an expose of the little understood situation which continues NOW to erode living standards and quality of life in Australia for the majority and to destroy our environment. It is ongoing! We, (that's all of us) have even more responsibility now than did previous generations as the decline is now VERY RAPID. Twenty years ago it was not as noticeable. The requests for an apology as for the indigenous stolen generation or to the mothers in the general population who had their babies taken from them (this is what is sounding like) are not going to remedy the situation and amount to wallowing and inaction. Furthermore, the abominable practices referred to specifically had stopped at the time of the apologies. In this case it continues. At best you could use your call for an apology as a publicity stunt to alert the sleep- walking public as to what is happening, but you would be hunting down the wrong group. The big business elites would think all their Christmases had come at once. It’s scarier to confront them than to complain about a whole generation who are diverse in terms of culture, education and means. I suggest we do NOT go along with this split across generations, so often encouraged by the media and try together to regain our rights. There are heaps of local groups largely populated with members of the BB generation trying to save natural areas. A couple individuals I know have spent the last 30 years trying to save our forests. A group has been trying to save Royal Park for a decade or more and have the fight of their life on their hands right now 1 as a road is about to be built right through it. It’s the same process of endless growth that erodes our natural areas that makes housing unaffordable.

Rather than wasting their time and the precious time of the rest of us, in extracting an apology, please join in and help and most importantly, educate yourselves on what is happening. This is difficult because the corporate media do not want you to understand what is happening and their news is confusing to everyone who relies on it. Gen Z and the generation after may not be grateful to you for your perseverance as the next generation takes things for granted if things are good. That’s to be expected. If they are not grateful and as children just enjoy their lives then you/we will have succeeded.


1. Quark, you can link to another article on candobetter, for example, Sheila's article "The last summer for Royal Park?", as follows:
<a href="/?q=node/3685">"Why talk about Baby Boomers as if they are all rich and housed?"</a>
To link to that article from another site (as I encourage all contributors and visitors to do) you would use:
<a href="">"Why talk about Baby Boomers as if they are all rich and housed?"</a>
... or, possibly:
<a href="">"Why talk about Baby Boomers as if they are all rich and housed?"</a>
- Ed

I think boomers may be able to stop a high rise here, or road there, but no meaningful change. The ideas which can actually effect any change, and KEEP it are just forming. And I will say again, this isn't unique to boomers. There are many younger ones who are the same, its just that I can find some Gen Y who are morally quite different, but I can't with boomers.

I do appreciate what you do, there is no doubt about it, and I'm grateful for all that contribute. Nothing against anyone here. I'm just saying that self introspection is needed. Australia is not the only country which had a property boom, or mass immigration or decline in living standards. I chat with many Americans, and see similar problems there, Chinese investment pushing up prices, casualisation ,loss of open space, push for growth. Australia's problems are more focused on real estate, because we have a weird real estate fetish culture in Australia which is not new. Auctions are rare in other countries, but ALWAYS been common here. Auctions generally exacerbate prices.

My point is that our problems are kind of generic "western problems", not specifically just caused by a few developers or Matthew Guy. These are symptoms of an underlying problem, and that problem resides in us.

Quark you say:

" At best you could use your call for an apology as a publicity stunt to alert the sleep- walking public as to what is happening, but you would be hunting down the wrong group."

An apology is NOT a publicity stunt. It requires significant humility on the part of Boomers. It would mean a lot to Gen Y's and Gen Z's (not to mention Gen X's). I know people very well who are very bitter about the past selfish behaviours of Boomers, and how those behaviours have affected them - significantly.

An apology is essential to these people to repair their relationships and allow them to focus on the real task of rebuilding society.

An apology would also be significant in many other ways - it would indicate a rejection of the selfish, consumerism of the past and may facilitate deep reflection, not just in Boomers, but in the generations following who may have picked up selfish ways of thinking and behaving and who have not questioned that because that is now how almost everyone behaves! An open rethinking by Boomers could lead to a complete re-assessment of our value system across all Australian society.

This one act in itself could be the most meaningful act that Boomers ever do in their lives! And it would majorly offset any harmful feelings they have created.

Of course, there are Boomers who have worked hard to fix problems, but they are in a minority - I know I have been involved with them (as one of the few "youngsters" - and I am not that young) and they are the same tiny core of people who have been working tirelessly for years! Often 40 years or more. Others may have done bits and pieces here and there, but not put themselves out too much.

Sheila is not wrong in saying Boomers were manipulated, and that they are not all well off - no one is denying that. But the darker truth is that manipulation succeeds by appealing to the base desires of people and/or their indolence. Of course manipulation serves the elite, but it achieves its aims by promising to benefit the selfish desires of the masses. Thus many Boomers may not have wanted our utilities to be privatised, and possibility felt this quite strongly - but because of indolence they did not take action! And the privatisations and other things went ahead. Others perhaps said nothing as they felt that they could make money or for other selfish reasons. Who knows. Many may not have spoken out against high immigration given that it leads to more customers, promotions, higher wealth for those already here, etc. Awareness of this may have been enough for many to not speak out strongly about possible drawbacks.

In any case, an apology would put all these issues to bed - especially if it is followed up with serious intent to correct the situation - whether created on purpose or not!

Things are getting very desperate. The other generations need the Boomers help and support! And they need to know the Boomers are behind them and condemn what has been created (even though created in part by them).



The leader of the Baby Boomers needs to report in here if not to apologise immediately, at least to discuss the grievances and report back to a full meeting of Baby Boomers for consideration.

Anonymous, your 'Who is the leader of the babyboomers?' is wonderful.

There is no leader of the babyboomers because all they are is a statistical construction befitting a book by Lewis Carrol or Bernard Salt, who has written several books turning statistical constructions into fictitious social classes. He has been so successful that people now believe that such classes exist. The ABC interviews him about them, government attempts to legislate around them, and people go witch-hunting them.

But a leader for the babyboomers will appear, just as we have ethnic leaders and environmental leaders; someone to push their own agenda in the guise of representing the Baby Boomer Class cannot fail to take advantage of this opportunity.

The concept of a baby boomer now exists - and it has reality in Australian's minds - even if the exact period is nebulous.

It is pretty easy for Gen Y's to define - one possibility is the people who when under 30 years old had the option of spending less than one half million dollars on a basic house. And most likely the house was in a nice suburb with a backyard, and not 1 hour or more from the city (although this definition includes many Gen X'ers).

I would imagine that some sort petition would do in terms of an apology. I am a Gen Xer, but I am happy to post an apology to my kids for not doing more earlier. It is not that hard. But first one must wake up.

There are plenty of sites that support petitions easily.

The high price of land and housing is not the fault of Baby Boomers. Why should they shove off and exit their properties so younger people can access them? The unaffordable prices are not driven by the ageing population, but by high rates of population growth driving scarcity, and thus peaking prices.
The "ageing population" demographic trend is being exaggerated by politicians and growth-ists, to divert focus on the main problems caused by population overload. Young people are being dispossessed from land ownership, and the rights of citizenship are being diluted by the porous borders we have.
Why are Chinese nationals allowed to access and invest in our housing market? It's to maximise profits for investors, and the public remain silent and politically-correct.
An intergenerational war is the ideal conflict, and one that will keep the public diverted from the real cause - heavy immigration rates!

I'd happily accept a large drop in my property value if all such values dropped respectively. Would save a shitload in Council rates and insurance costs.

Most Baby Boomers do not set the agenda of our economy. They are pawns like most other people. If any are complacent just because they live in and own a half million or million dollar house, they are kidding themselves. It is still just a house as it always was. This was called "the Australian dream" and it was what most people wanted. Even if they didn't want it, at least it was a choice open to many if not most. This was democratic and very important. To watch another generation slaving to attain anything like it is to see the evidence of serious failure. It is interesting that in my experience environmental groups and rallies at Parliament House Melbourne trying to save our natural heritage are over-represented by older people. I think there is a general understanding amongst these Baby Boomer activists that the younger generation (Gen Y) is time and energy strapped. This makes it even more difficult for younger people to galvanise and unite against what amounts to theft of their future well-being.

Dennisk wrote:

The situation today is partly what people asked for.

So, other features of our society (as Sheila has noted), which Dennisk, presumably, thinks baby boomers asked for, include:

  • long daily commutes to and from work for the order of one or two hours in either direction;
  • both partners having to work for ever longer hours in order to pay rent, mortgage and meet other living expenses;
  • the credentials creep: ever longer-hours spent on the weekends and evenings to obtain the skills and qualifications necessary to gain promotion or even just to retain our existing job, where training had previously often been provided in the employer's time at the employer's expense;
  • more and more buildings and common land, including bushland on which people could meet and engage in recreation being privatised; and
  • free-standing homes with grass and dirt, in which we could grow food and flowers and on which children could play, are disappearing and being replaced by ugly sterile high-rise apartment blocks, the air-conditioning of which consumes vast quantities of electricity.

I can ask for a lot of things, but the things I ultimately agitate for, determine the outcome. This is what you are missing. When you put an idea into motion, the outcome isn't the outcome that your ideology says should happen, but the outcome that nature says will happen.

Take immigration for example, how many boomers in the 60's and 70's wanted immigration restrictions? How many wanted immigration laws loosened? If I remember correctly, a few at Vic First prided themselves on loosening standards. Now they are complaining about the outcome. How else do you end a 'white Australia', without mass immigration? What did this person expect to happen?

Others at this meeting warned for lack of social cohesion and were booed! Booed! Yet I bet these same people will complain about lack of social cohesion and infighting...

Or smaller homes. How many people back 30 years ago said we need to share our wealth, that we have too much? How many people even TODAY say we should share our wealth and space. I heard this 20 years ago any ANYONE who objected was pilloried as a 'racist'. Any one who said "no room" was a bigot.

And speaking of "racism", the term which any anti-growth advocate is deathly afraid of, was it not demanded that racism not be tolerated? That xenophobia has no place in Australia? Wasn't one of the BIG "achievements" of the boomer generation 'breaking down barriers'? So now the property lobby can use it and scare the population away from our cause. Nice.

Both partners having to work. Feminists were rallying against the "patriarchy" and insisting women should have the same opportunities as men. Now, like men, they can enjoy having to work to keep the family going. I grew up being told that suggesting that women perhaps would be better of at home instead of working was sexist and bigoted.

Bill Clinton in the 90's, said that white people would be a minority by 2040 in the USA and that this was good, and the crowd went wild, not with anger! I remember, and it still happens now, many people saying how great the world would be when "we" are not the majority, or mixed out, or whatever. That "we", these idiots didn't realise, that were being displaced were their children and grandchildren. Now they are complaining about their children and grandchildren not having a place after fighting people trying to secure it!

I'm not leveling this at you personally, as I will give you the benefit of the doubt.

In ALL those examples, there were plenty of warnings. In all those examples, honest appraisal would have hinted at this outcome. But this wasn't allowed, because it didn't fit with the ideology. Because any opinion that didn't fit the morality was just wrong. It COULDN'T be right. There is this thinking that something which sound offensive must be wrong. Not just morally wrong, but scientifically wrong and logically wrong.

Now, so it doesn't appear that I'm just attacking boomers, I'll use a Gen X example, because I acknowledge its not a unique generation thing, its just most VISIBLE in that generation.

Gen X still want tolerance, no hate, for a diverse society of all races to live peacefully. As a result, we've had to limit free speech and begin policing people who's thoughts might upset this. NSA have a massive surveillance program in place. I'm sure Australia has the same. The UK do too, they used it to arrest people who threaten 'tolerance'. They use it AGGRESSIVELY, but none of these people who object to a growing police state protested this.

Now, in the future when my daughter finds out that she's living in a 1984 style world (maybe), she's going to blame Gen X/Y, RIGHTFULLY. We'll say (not me, we), "Oh, we fought AGAINST that. WE didn't ASK for surveillance, for video cameras everywhere". But its NOT true. We lauded those who used surveillance to dob in 'racists' on public transport. We demanded that hate speech not be tolerance. We said, time and time again, there are LIMITS to free speech. To make this happen, you need surveillance. We overlooked when police arrested someone for something they said in private.

Dennis's comments in italic bold mine in regular font.

"It may not have been asked for, but it was the outcome."

My response to this first statement is to want to distinguish between what was up to 'the babyboomers' and 'what was not'. As I just developed from a comment by Anonymous, ("Who is the leader of the Babyboomers?") they are [nothing but a pack of cards! as Alice said] a statistical cohort of people extending across two decades, separated by time, household, education, structural divides which included a changing rural/city divide, increasingly geographical infills via immigration, and, especially lately, professional wedge politics: Lib/Lab/'Green'/vs the rest, ably promoted by a duopoly mass media of Murdoch-Fairfax and Government-ABC.

My second response is to treat this as an existentional question. Existentional in the sense that argues that political engagement is how we define ourselves, recognise eachother and become socially alive. Without political engagement, humans remain isolated and confused, unwell, depressed, impotent... I think you may be right to accuse the babyboomer statistical cohort of containing a significant number of existentionally disengaged members. The cultural cringe that Edna Everedge lampooned portrayed a set of somehow still immature elderly people reduced to communing with garden gnomes, their only identity material assets and mementos of sparse initiation ceremonies, like weddings and RSL membership.

Such a bizarre change from the times preceding, of convicts and rumcorps, scientists and explorers, gold-seekers and bushrangers, Federation politicians and poets, pre-WW2 artists and writers.

A number of the Post WW2 lot seem curiously conformist to superficial but rigid standards, with the sexes separate, the men obediently employed, the women detached.

Engagement is very difficult when you are structurally disorganised.

Think about it. You and I probably came from very different places, backgrounds and experiences, by reason of sex, age, location and social class. Even though we may both be babyboomers, there could be 25 years difference in our ages; we may belong to different generations. I may have been too young for Vietnam and you might have been conscripted or even volunteered. You may be religious; I am not. This may be the first time we have met and talked about this.

"I can ask for a lot of things, but the things I ultimately agitate for, determine the outcome. This is what you are missing. When you put an idea into motion, the outcome isn't the outcome that your ideology says should happen, but the outcome that nature says will happen."

I guess you need to state the natural rule you think applies here.

My perception is that there was a failure (due to political-economic and structural problems that disorganised many Australians) to engage, to agitate for anything much amongst the wider, disorganised public. However you feel that people did agitate. During the 1960s and 1970s it is true that some Australians were very engaged in agitating for particular political outcomes. Some of these were the multiculturalists, the Communists and the B.A. Santamariarists, the latter who both arose in relationship to the Australian unionist and protectionist movement of Federation - which was a much more engaged period, I think. Mark Lopez, author of The origins of multiculturalism in Australian politics 1945-1975 finds that multiculturalism was pushed by a very few people through skilful lobbying. In his paper, The Politics of the origins of multiculturalism: Lobbying and the power of influence," (2000)[Referenced in [1], he writes,

"[...]The ideology of multiculturalism was developed between 1966 and 1975 by a small number of academics, social workers and activists initially located on the fringe of the political arena of migrant settlement and welfare, a political arena that itself was not large, despite the fact that these issues affected the lives of so many. " [Al Grassby was not initially inclined to multiculturalism but one of his speechwriters was a multiculturalism activist and Grassby profited from having clear concept and direction from this.] [...] "The decisive shift towards multiculturalism in public policy occurred during the first Whitlam Labor Government (December 1972 to May 1974), even though there was no preconceived or planned introduction of multiculturalism and it was not part of the Labor Party platform. Multiculturalism became accepted as a basis of ethnic affairs policy during this period largely as a result of the successes of the multiculturalists as lobbyists. The appeal of the merits of multiculturalism was never sufficient in itself to ensure its acceptance as public policy: it was necessary for the multiculturalists to vigorously and strenuously promote it, often in the face of indifference or sometimes stiff opposition from those who supported other approaches." [...]"Fraser adopted it as a model and, using his authority as the Opposition Spokesman, he introduced it into the Coalition platform for the May 1974 federal election; the first inclusion of multiculturalislm in the immigration policy of a major party. This development also established a degree of bipartisanship sufficient to protect this new ideology from the rigours of adversarial parliamentary politics." [...]"By the end of 1975, the influence of multiculturalism was evident in five federal departments: Labour and Immigration, Social Security, Education, the Media, and the Attorney-General's Department. Despite their efforts from 1973, the multiculturalists' breakthrough in influencing the union movement was delayed until May 1976, when they established a Migrant Workers' Centre in the Victorian Trades Hall. "

"Take immigration for example, how many boomers in the 60's and 70's wanted immigration restrictions? How many wanted immigration laws loosened? If I remember correctly, a few at Vic First prided themselves on loosening standards. Now they are complaining about the outcome. How else do you end a 'white Australia', without mass immigration? What did this person expect to happen?"

If you interpret the expression of a high rate of desire for better assimilation as a sign of not wanting immigrants from non-English speaking countries, then it seems that most Victorians, at any rate, objected to non-British immigrants.[1] (A lot objected to British immigrants as well - those of Irish stock, for instance.)

There is little documentation on whether most people objected to the idea of a much bigger Australia, but I know that ever since the first million there have been people wanting to keep Australia small.[2] Since Australia was founded due to Britain's overpopulation and Malthus's theories were popularised in our early history, there were a lot of Malthusians in Australia. Charles Darwin's visit in the 1850s reinforced this, although it also reinforced the presence of the Catholic Church, as the pope weighed in. The main political tension was that of wage earners and small business wanted protection and big business wanted open markets and a big local population, although Britain preferred a smaller population in a commodity economy to provide her factories with raw materials. In Federation agreements towards the constitution, workers succeeded in stopping slave imports (blackbirding) and also in stopping slave-wage-earner imports through the exercise of the White Australia Policy which attempted to screen immigration out from large dense populations associated with low-wage labour. [3]

Environmentalists in the 1970s were particularly against big populations, especially after the first oil shock, which caused concern about scarcity. Leone Sandercock recorded in her books[4] citizens' anger at inflated land-prices in Victoria under the Hamer government, and at the rapacious development and destruction of green spaces. This overdevelopment was related to the rapid population growth of the 1960s and 1970s - composed of high natural increase plus high immigration, even though immigrants were initially housed in special facilities, in part to avoid anger at housing unaffordability.

As to whether people should have interpreted 'ending the White Australia policy' as meaning mass immigration, I seem to recollect there was quite a lot of fear about this at the time, but it was managed by propaganda. People who expressed antipathy to asian immigration were ridiculed - for instance Bruce Ruxton. Ruxton, as I recall, was a working class passionate returned soldier advocate, lacking in sophisticated airs. The Vietnam War and conscription protests also helped to make him an easier target. What he stood for were largely the values that the government of his day had promoted, but fashions had changed and he was tarred as an anachronism.

It was, however, still okay to disapprove of overpopulation. And people, especially environmentalists, talked with concern about overpopulation all over the world; in France, in the US, and in Australia. US presidents endorsed this concern, as did Whitlam.

I think that the people who supported multiculturalists by militating for the end of racially discriminatory immigration were mostly middle class people or intellectuals who trusted the government; they did not think that they would lose control of policy. So they accepted or were persuaded to accept non-racially discriminatory immigration, but they did not think that they were going to have to accept a massive increase in numbers.

It seems highly likely that other Australians who did not identify with the middle classes or intellectuals (as Katharine Betts intimates in her book, Immigration Ideology) were not so trusting of government. But their ideas were unfashionable and criminology tells us that the middle classes and fashionable intellectuals can rarely imagine how poor people fear 'the authorities'. Because middle classes and fashionable intellectuals rarely go to prison, they assume that the system is fair and impartial. Another, obvious reason that non-professionals and unskilled and semi-skilled labour were against high immigration was that they knew their jobs were easily filled by new immigrants, even if those immigrants had poor English. This was not a problem for the doctors or lawyers, for instance. The doctors had a very protective union and the law is a very local specialty. (Now even the doctors have been disorganised.)

(Did the quality of the Australian education system also decline? Because it seems that many people never acquired enough knowledge of their own country to even realise what reasonable population numbers were. At Sustainable Living Festivals a few years running, some environmentalists ran surveys to see what people understood about population. What they found was that, at those festivals at any rate, most people had no idea of the size of Australia's or the world's population. They were so innumerate and geographically ignorant that, even if you gave them a choice, they would get it wrong by millions, in some cases billions (even for Australia!). These were, for example, people in suits with jobs who strolled through Federation square in their lunch hours.)

The immigration numbers did not increase immediately

In fact the numbers did not increase much until John Howard, according to my observation of them; they stayed around 80,000 p.a. averaged over the years. Net Overseas Migration (with the exception of Bob Hawke's Tiananmen square year) until Howard. But 80,000 p.a. net was far too many, and, by the 1980s environmentalists groups had formed, notably Australians for an Ecologically Sustainable Population (AESP) - now called Sustainable Population Australia (SPA). AESP seemed to be fairly confident of eventually succeeding in lobbying government through sheer power of reason. They based this on the belief that Australia was a democracy and that citizens opinions counted, especially if they were supported by scientific authority.

Something happened in the meantime.

Why did AESP form, though? It seemed to be largely a response to the retreat by the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) from its constitutional requirement to support efforts to keep Australia's population small. This disquieting retreat by the ACF was dramatised when it attempted to pull out of an agreement to fund a book about how the looming environmental problems of continuing population growth in Australia. Ultimately it must have given in because the book was published as R. Birrell, D. Hill and J. Nevill, Eds., Populate and Perish published by the Australian Conservation Foundation and Fontana, 1984. Nonetheless, future events would show that that old environmental flagship, the Australian Conservation Foundation, had been captured by the growth lobby.

Around this time a political party that was against a big population for environmental and social reasons, formed. This was Australians Against Further Immigration (AAFI). Initially they were welcomed as allies of the environmental movement against overpopulation. But then some of them came out against multiculturalism and specifically against Chinese immigration. They were then hounded down by the press and government spokespeople and stigmatised as racist.

Organisations who defined themselves as purely ecological were careful to distinguish themselves from AAFI in public situations.

This was my own first experience of 'wedge politics', where it does not matter if you have some things in common with another group; if that group has unfashionable ideas as well your group will be punished by the press and other social police for associating with it. This weakened the environmental movement against population growth because a lot of its members would also have been concerned about the social effects of multiculturalism and those people could not express their concerns in the environmental organisations.

It is very unhealthy to create a situation where people in the same country cannot discuss important issues, but are instead expected to be rude to anyone who seems to have a different opinion. It is natural for people to be curious and want to know all about important social issues, to explore every angle - but this is strongly discouraged in Australia these days. The way that immigration is treated is as a religion, if you define a religion as a creed where some things cannot be discussed because it is against the rules and you have to have faith. This is not much different from the political differences between sunnis and shiites when neither side can safely evaluate the other's point of view. This kind of wedge politics makes us ripe for manipulation; it is a great way to limit citizens' knowledge and stop them from organising.

I was never bothered by different races/ethnicities; I was raised with neighbours of various origins and played with bush aboriginal children. It was numbers that bothered me - until - I stumbled over in the Multicultural Foundation of Australia big business connections linked to the nuclear industry, to property development (engineering) and more. Most astounding was the membership of the Foundation - almost entirely composed of past and present prime ministers and opposition leaders. It was founded by bob Hawke in (from memory) 1985. Its has hugely financial national and international network although almost no funds, as far as I can work out. I have been writing about this now for a few years and my articles get thousands of reads, but no-one know how to tackle this or where to take it because of how high it goes. It's something that all Australians need to see for what it is, but of course none of the mass media would ever look at it; they know where their bread and butter lies. See Multicultural foundation tag

"Others at this meeting warned for lack of social cohesion and were booed! Booed! Yet I bet these same people will complain about lack of social cohesion and infighting..."

I don't understand what you mean here. Do you mean that those same people will complain elsewhere about lack of social cohesion etc? I was at that meeting too, but I thought that Kelvin Thomson's view was (a) the multicultural horse has left the stable so closing the door is no longer effective and so it is a non-issue, and (b) the concern of Victoria First is numbers, not ethnicity. Thomson had already announced this and for me the logical thing was, if people wanted to have an organisation about what kinds of immigrants Australia takes, then they would be welcome to form one and to invite people to join it.

It seems to me that there are two concepts here: One is How many immigrants and the other is What kind of immigrants? It seems to me that the first one has precedence.

"Or smaller homes. How many people back 30 years ago said we need to share our wealth, that we have too much? How many people even TODAY say we should share our wealth and space. I heard this 20 years ago any ANYONE who objected was pilloried as a 'racist'. Any one who said "no room" was a bigot."

The business about sharing the wealth comes from the same place that the innumerate estimates of Australia's population come from. People are very poorly educated. They can be born and bred here and not even realise that they live at the edge of an enormous desert. They think cities begin and end with the buildings; it doesn't occur to them that huge moving machines called 'farms' and mines cover half the countryside in order to support them. They read often enough in the Australian and the Age or hear on TV or the ABC that we are a big, empty, wealthy country and they believe it. That's the power of authority; the authority imbued in the press. People believe what the media tells them more than they trust their own eyes.

Yes, you are right. People were taught to fear the consequences of expressing unfashionable opinions about multiculturalism. In fact they were terrified. It does seem that probably a majority of people do dislike multiculturalism and a high immigration flow particularly if it is from very varied origins, however they have been taught not to express this.

How were they taught? Well, the treatment meted out to AAFI was pretty awful, but what happened to Pauline Hanson was frankly terrifying. As she gained in popularity, the major parties treated her as a serious threat and they don't treat serious threats with kid-gloves. Wedge politics came out in force and people simply did not dare to attend her meetings for fear of being outed. Those who did attend her meetings (arguably very brave people with the courage of their convictions) were physically attacked by thugs from the Socialist Alliance etc. The photographs of people attending the meetings were also published in the press, which meant their neighbours and employers would recognise them.

Middle class people and intellectuals do not get involved in that kind of thing and, besides, they were sympathetic to multiculturalism; they held, as Katharine Betts argued in her Immigration Ideology, 'cosmopolitan values'. There was a great divide between them and the majority of Australians, it seems.

Despite this a lot of people continued to attend those meetings. Finally, John Howard made noises as if he was quite sympathetic to the reasons that people supported Hanson. This probably caused a lot of Hanson supporters to direct their preferences to him over the ALP. Then, in the wake of the Port Arthur Massacre, he banned guns. This endeared him to the middle classes and fashionable intellectuals who had formerly hated him because he seemed not of their class and because he had been sent into the political wilderness years before for expressing anti-Asian immigration ideas. Correct me if I am wrong, but I think that he managed to bott quite a large portion of Hanson's support base for a while.

I can't remember if he massively upped immigration before or after Hanson was imprisoned, but it must have been very convenient to have her locked away, along with one of her political associates. They were both exonerated after several months in prison but, their political opportunities had come and gone whilst they were locked up.

Perhaps more important, what did people seeing what happened to Pauline Hanson learn? They learned that, not only could you be embarassed and even beaten up if you tried to fight high immigration because of your social values, but that the Australian Government would have no qualms about throwing you into prison for it.

But, infinitely worse, infinitely shocking, so bizarre and unthinkable that people may wonder if they imagined this, our current Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, raised the money to prosecute Pauline Hanson which permitted her to be prosecuted and sent to prison.[6]

"And speaking of "racism", the term which any anti-growth advocate is deathly afraid of, was it not demanded that racism not be tolerated? That xenophobia has no place in Australia? Wasn't one of the BIG "achievements" of the boomer generation 'breaking down barriers'? So now the property lobby can use it and scare the population away from our cause. Nice."

I was not aware that this was a 'baby-boomer' achievement. I thought it was a cultural change engineered by successive governments. I always thought that racism in Australia was grossly exaggerated, and used as a label to gloss over other more acceptable objections - like wanting to protect your job, or wanting to stop more housing developments. Certainly calling people racist has been used often to try to shut people up who objected to overdevelopment. These days they even intimidate people into saying, "We're not against 'development', just 'poorly designed developments' etc. as if it were somehow unreasonable to be against having everything covered by infrastructure.

I think that the property lobby was in on this from the beginning. They have funded a ton of pro-big population and multiculturalism literature from academics for years now. There has been no-one to fund the counter-arguments. The property development and business lobby have done this in Australia and in Britain for centuries. The Liberal Party was founded by immigrationist forces around the time of Federation.[5]

No-one knew about this except the people who benefited directly from it. Even Neville Hicks in This Sin and Scandal, Australia's Population Debate 1891-1911, Australian National University Press, Canberra, ACT, 1978 (a history of the anti-birthcontrol movement in Australia) misinterpreted the valuable data he accumulated, which showed me that property speculation united the powerful to prevent contraception and to promote mass immigration in order to save their investments in property and to prop up the banks. Maybe also he misinterpreted it because of the times he wrote in. His interpretation was to take seriously the rhetoric of the businessmen and politicians who tried to suppress abortion and contraception. This led him to believe that they were motivated entirely by religious convictions and prurient obsessions. Somehow he overlooked the fact that they were all on boards of organisations that faced bankruptcy if the land they had invested in did not regain value in the 1890s depression.

What has happened recently is that the internet has permitted a huge globalisation of the property market at the same time as we have lost almost all protection via the National Foreign Investment Board. In a country like Australia where there is no decoupling of work permits from immigration and where permanent immigration means real-time permanent, rather than just a year as it does in most of Western Europe, this means disastrous loss of control.

"Both partners having to work. Feminists were rallying against the "patriarchy" and insisting women should have the same opportunities as men. Now, like men, they can enjoy having to work to keep the family going. I grew up being told that suggesting that women perhaps would be better of at home instead of working was sexist and bigoted."

What happened was that the market charged whatever it could get and it went after both salaries. In other words the market profited from a social change that was clamoured for as a benefit. Of course, it wasn't really the "market" it was a government of land-speculators making rules whereby they helped to inflate the price of property. But you are talking to a land-tenure sociologist here and I know that women all once had land, just as female bears do. We lost it in many cultures, but not all, along the way, and overpopulation was part of the reason. In a socio-economic system where most citizens don't own much property, being able to earn a wage is a means to some freedom, and why would women not want to be free? However real freedom is owning land and assets and having a home to stay home in, IMHO. I personally would like fifty per cent of seats in parliament to be for women (not for 'women's issues' but for women's bums on seats) and I personally want our inheritance system to be reformed so that male and female children cannot be disinherited by their parents in favour of the spouse; so that male and female children all have the possibility of inheriting assets, preferably land; so that there would be no need to compensate a widower or widow for their partner's decease because the widow or widower would have their independent fortune. (This is the Napoleonic or Roman system that is in almost all European countries and similar systems prevail in many places. The Anglophone systems are very disempowering.)

I don't think people saw this coming, any more than they saw most things coming, because of their ignorance of how big business and government work together, because of their naive faith in an entirely false belief that they lived in a democracy and were empowered, and because they emotionally followed fashions as they humanly sought identity and political engagement. It was easy to mislead a bunch of disorganised, poorly educated, disaggregated, statistical cohorts who suffered from cultural cringe and an absence of historical knowledge.

"Bill Clinton in the 90's, said that white people would be a minority by 2040 in the USA and that this was good, and the crowd went wild, not with anger! I remember, and it still happens now, many people saying how great the world would be when "we" are not the majority, or mixed out, or whatever. That "we", these idiots didn't realise, that were being displaced were their children and grandchildren. Now they are complaining about their children and grandchildren not having a place after fighting people trying to secure it!"

I think our system will dispossess anyone, white or brown. I believe that what is happening to Australia is the same thing that happened to Africa and India, the Solomans and Easter Island - disorganisation, dispossession, loss of self-government through colonisation by superior numbers and or forces. I don't believe that changing colours will make all that much difference, but you probably don't either. What really changes is one's social organisation; one's real empowerment through clan and territorial connections. See Demography Territory and Law, The Rules of Animal and Human Population, Countershock Press, Australia, 2013. (Kindle) Also available as paperback here: Paperback edition. My book is all about this.
The fact that I think the British-inherited system we live under is totally wrong means that I am not a person who believes that a solution for us lies in British immigration (as Pauline Hanson did, I believe). I think we need to allow our population to decrease, but I have already written a lot about that.

"I'm not leveling this at you personally, as I will give you the benefit of the doubt."

I was personally always shocked by the injustice and judgementalness and the sheer disregard for democracy meted out to people who tried to stand up for their rights as they perceived them. I was disgusted and dismayed at the impact of wedge politics which seemed to use these differences of opinion to corral people into very narrow associations and to demonise people who, at time of Federation, would all have talked civilly together. I saw what was happening as the destruction of democracy. I made a decision that the message I wanted to get out was ecological; it was the disappearance of green spaces and freedom to move, of biodiverse surroundings. To get that message out I could not afford to get involved in defending specific peoples' rights, however I did get to expose what was happening, as I am doing now. I also received a lot of poor treatment myself by people who mistakenly thought that I was fighting for discriminatory immigration policies.

"In ALL those examples, there were plenty of warnings. In all those examples, honest appraisal would have hinted at this outcome. But this wasn't allowed, because it didn't fit with the ideology. Because any opinion that didn't fit the morality was just wrong. It COULDN'T be right. There is this thinking that something which sound offensive must be wrong. Not just morally wrong, but scientifically wrong and logically wrong."

Yes, you are right; it did not fit with the ideology that the middle classes and fashionable intellectuals casually absorbed or that was taught to them from kindergarten through primary school and secondary school. As to why people did not imagine what could happen further down the track in terms of huge populations, skyrocketing prices and loss of human rights - it seems to me that most people responded to herding. They were afraid of what would happen to them if they resisted going in the direction they were being pushed and they accepted with more or less relief any rationale that the dogs herding them gave for forcing them into ever-narrowing choices, rationales that suggested that Australia was a big rich land, that we would all get cleverer, that sacrifices must be made for 'progress' and that 'progress' was an evolutionary pathway of a chronologically forward nature which always led to more and better stuff and to freedom and power in the end.

"Now, so it doesn't appear that I'm just attacking boomers, I'll use a Gen X example, because I acknowledge its not a unique generation thing, its just most VISIBLE in that generation."

I can't comment on where it is most prevalent. I was counselling a 30 year old mentally ill man recently who lived in utter precarity. He had a one room flat in public housing that he was too afraid to sleep in because someone had died in it before he moved in and their imprint was still on the carpet and the level of violence in those flats was terrifying. He said, "I'm tormented by my racist thoughts of resentment towards all the refugees that have public housing and contribute to the difficulties and violence." This was the first time I had thought about the impact that refugees (including accepted asylum seekers) might have on public housing demand. Until then I had thought that the number of refugees is so tiny that they pale into insignificance next to economic immigrants. However if there is an accumulated concentration of several thousand refugees over a few years in a limited quantity of public housing, it is obvious that there will be an impact. It's a fact that a lot of poor refugees do finish up in the public housing system and that it is full of violence. This guy did not feel that he could speak up because to him his resentments seemed to have a racist basis. So he could not formulate a statement that he had a right to decent housing as a citizen and if that right was being negatively affected by numbers of immigrants, then he had a right to demand a reduction in immigration. His solution was to couch-surf and sleep on benches, as he slid towards suicide. You will not be surprised to hear that he felt entirely worthless.

"Gen X still want tolerance, no hate, for a diverse society of all races to live peacefully. As a result, we've had to limit free speech and begin policing people who's thoughts might upset this. NSA have a massive surveillance program in place. I'm sure Australia has the same. The UK do too, they used it to arrest people who threaten 'tolerance'. They use it AGGRESSIVELY, but none of these people who object to a growing police state protested this."

As I have written, if they saw it coming, they were afraid, or, if they fought it, they were made to suffer. It helps that generations now have lived in cities and have no idea of how all the other creatures depend on their local ecology remaining intact. And that we do ultimately as well, and that you cannot self-govern via the global market.

Now, in the future when my daughter finds out that she's living in a 1984 style world (maybe), she's going to blame Gen X/Y, RIGHTFULLY. We'll say (not me, we), "Oh, we fought AGAINST that. WE didn't ASK for surveillance, for video cameras everywhere". But its NOT true. We lauded those who used surveillance to dob in 'racists' on public transport. We demanded that hate speech not be tolerance. We said, time and time again, there are LIMITS to free speech. To make this happen, you need surveillance. We overlooked when police arrested someone for something they said in private.

I guess you bring me back to reality here. I do not believe that I ever did this. However I have seen groups revel in righteous indignation and the pursuit of people they thought were political outlaws. Once people did this to the tribe down the track when they had a bone to pick. Now our 'tribes' are temporary alliances, like brands, formed through identification with marketed values etc; and our loyalties and controls are easily manipulated; there are very few real sources of orientation. In an industry where I work, I have seen over 20 years, a degrading of trust and work conditions, a kind of dog-eat-dog ethos, a psychopathic pursuit of power and the reduction of normal people into cowards and tell-tales. This seems to me to be the result of bureaucracy and the abolition of the seniority system, which at least gave a lot of organic social structure to industry before, tempered the naked ambition and brought stability and safety. The majority of people, as far as I can see, don't want this, but they don't know how to get out of it. I think the way out is to talk about it, as we are doing here.


[1] "[...] opinion polls on immigration found widespread disapproval of the source countries that contributed the most to ethnic and cultural diversity. An Age Poll of July 1971 produced close to a majority for severely restricting Italian and Greek migrants, with only three to four per cent believing that the government should recruit them." Mark Lopez, "The Politics of the origins of multiculturalism: Lobbying and the power of influence, Paper at 10th Biennial Conference of the Australian Population Association, Year 2000.

[2] "A history of politics and population in Australia: Thomas Malthus in Australian thought"

[3] "Overpopulation, immigration, multiculturalism and the White Australia policy"

[4]Leone Sandercock, The Land Racket (1979) and Property, Politics and Urban Planning (1990).

[5] Chapter 6 of Sheila Newman, The Growth Lobby and its Absence, RMIT Thesis, 2000.

[6] "Yes it is true. In 1998, Tony Abbott, John Wheeldon (former ALP Senator) and William "Peter" Coleman (a former NSW Liberal Opposition Leader and father-in-law to Peter Costello) established a trust fund (aka slush fund) titled "Australians for Honest Politics" with the express purpose of raising funds to fight against Pauline Hanson and One Nation, who were at the time drawing traditional Coalition voters away from the Coalition.

The slush fund raised around $100,000.

Tony Abbott has always refused to reveal who was behind the funding of this slush fund, although in 2003, ABC's Lateline revealed that Western Australian businessman Harold Clough was believed to be one of those who contributed funds.

You can view a copy of Abbott's trust fund here.

It should be noted that this was a particularly grubby chapter of Tony Abbott's political life, and has been partially covered here.

If you are interested, there is an excellent timeline of events relating to Tony Abbott and his slush fund covered here." Source: "Tony Abbott FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)"