Decentralisation should be a key home affordability response by government

Decentralisation should be a key home affordability response by government
Decentralisation should be a key home affordability response by government

The recent slowing in price growth, and even sizeable price declines, provides some Sydney first time buyers with opportunist purchasing prospects.

But while intense competition from investors has dropped off, there has been renewed demand arising from the overseas migration into Sydney.

Accordingly decentralisation should be more seriously on the agenda of all government as a means of addressing the affordability and liveability issues that young Sydneysiders confront.

We need to develop regional hubs where people can live, own, work and play without being expected to endure undue mortgage stress.

I'm old enough to recall the beginnings of what became the failed Albury-Wodonga decentralisation experiment. 

It was the 1973 vision of Premiers Sir Robert Askin and Sir Rupert Hamer overseen by Prime Minister Gough Whitlam.

“Whitlamabad” as the soon-gone Prime Minister often jested.

Divided by more than a river, the scheme tried to undo state borders with the ensuing rivalry a recipe for disaster.

I was thinking of the failure when I veered off the Hume Highway for a quick lunch while recently driving between Sydney and Melbourne.

My prawns, crisp lettuce and avocado with a squeeze of farm gate lemon was superb. 

Here I was five hours inland on a stinking hot day over the Christmas break. Nothing that I couldn't have had at the seriously overcrowded Westfield Bondi Junction.

Lunch was doable because there's no tyranny of distance with food anymore, so why not our lifes.

What is so unpalatable to our smart youthful generations about living outside the big smoke?

Our entrenched public service bureacracies have a mindset which holds back the embrace of decentralisation.

Indeed it was public servants in Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne who were horrified at the prospect of any forced move to Albury-Wodonga decades ago.

That self interest ensured the current crushing commutes are the daily outcome for much of the Sydney population.

But there are now bigger influences at work through globalisation. The emerging gig economy will certainly enable the great shift out - and cheaper travel and accomodation from the distruptive economy will assist those who have to occasionally come back into the rat race.

While the forces of disruption make their way through most industries, the antiquated public service mentality remains intact.

The recently unveiled vision of the Greater Sydney Commission of a ‘metropolis of three cities’ – Eastern Harbour City (the current CBD), the Central City (Parramatta and surrounds) and the ‘Western Parkland City’ (clustered around the Badgerys Creek Airport, Penrith and Campbelltown) - didn't inspire me.

The need is for increased housing supply incentives outside our key centres.

Decentralising will also assist in making urban life better for those who remain, not just the smashed avocado generation who really do aspire to home ownership, and a lifestyle somewhere, without too much stress.

This article first appeared in the Daily Telegraph. 

Jonathan Chancellor

Jonathan Chancellor

Jonathan Chancellor is one of our authors. Jonathan has been writing about property since the early 1980s and is editor-at-large of Property Observer.

Housing Affordability Planning Policy


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