‘Great moral crisis’ in Australia is hurting pensioners

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Australia is in the midst of “a great moral crisis”, according to Brotherhood of St Laurence Executive Director Conny Lenneberg.

“We are one of the wealthiest countries in the world, we have had 26 years of growth,” she said on the release of the May Rental Affordability Index (RAI), which measures rental affordability relative to household income,

“If Australia cannot afford to provide housing for all of its people, then I don’t know which other country in the world can.”

She said Australia needed a national housing strategy where all levels of government were investing in social housing.

The index – a biannual study published by National Shelter Community Sector Banking and SGS Economics and Planning – found that Hobart was the least affordable capital city in which to rent, in terms of the proportion of wages required to pay leases, followed by Sydney and Adelaide.

The latest report showed tenants in Hobart were spending 29 per cent of their wages on rent with Sydney renters close behind with 27 per cent, followed by Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Canberra and Perth.

Housing economist Andrew Wilson said it costs an average of $420 a week to rent in Hobart.

“Sydney has been joined by Canberra as the most expensive capital city, asking rents for housing of $550 per week,” he said.

“Next highest is Darwin at $530 per week, Brisbane at $400, with Adelaide the second most affordable capital city, next to Perth at $375 per week.”

The report found that people on welfare simply could no longer afford to rent in most capital cities.

“With over 8000 low-income households already in housing stress, rental unaffordability is now rising up the income ladder,” the report said.

Ms Lenneberg said people on middle and low incomes around the country were being pushed to the outskirts of the cities.

Rising rents put even more pressure on retirees on the Age Pension who don’t own their own homes and the Federal Budget 2018 offered no respite.

Cash-Strapped Singles and Couples have been doing it tough, according to recent editions of YourLifeChoices Retirement Affordability Index™, with those tribes spending 36 per cent and 29 per cent respectively on housing.

Centrelink’s Rent Allowance in the past year has increased by 1.62 per cent for couples (from $191 per fortnight in March 2017 to $194.10 in March 2018) and by 2.04 per cent for singles ($117.80 to $120.20).

As one YourLifeChoices member said after the March announcement: “So it looks like I will be getting 90 cents per week increase in Rent Allowance (the increase compared with the September 2017 rates) and I have just received a letter notifying me that my rent will increase by $10 pw from 1 May. Definitely going backwards.”

Mission Australia has long sought a review of retirement incomes to ensure that older people can meet the cost of living. Chief Executive Catherine Yeomans is lobbying for a commitment from governments to build 60,000 extra public housing dwellings specifically for older people.

“If funding was made available to build one new supported aged care facility in each state each year, that would have a meaningful impact on addressing the current shortfall,” she said. 

Have you had to move because of rising rental costs? Should the allowance be increased?

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Increasing rent prices may break our pension system

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Written by Janelle Ward


Total Comments: 34
  1. 0

    In the overall picture, dire predictions are that Earth Planet Thereof will be overrun by people in a few years… generally nature has ways of culling over-population, and where the greatest concentrations of population are, is where this happens in the main.

    Ergo – it is not in the long term best interests of this nation to continue to bring in masses of people and to continue to populate the major centres.

    This is one area that is a cause of rising prices……. immigration (with all due respect to the individuals taken in and involved).

    In one way, rather than taking in people from war-torn etc areas, in the long term for Planet Earth Inc it would be better to leave them in their culling ground, rather than seeking to procure for them a longer and better life. Sadly – that is true.

    The L.C (Lucky Country) Australia could be viewed as a lifeboat in a raging sea…… who will you have on board? Your own or anyone ‘equally’? What is equality on a lifeboat in a raging sea?

    Another cause of rising housing costs is fifty shades of greed going the rounds these days… and the hoarding of houses, along with the government direct aid to people who do so…. which is frankly ridiculous, since no business venture should be subsidised by government and must stand on its own two feet or perish, and the claimed benefits of this enduring misuse of public funds and public policy, of propping up house hoarders, are simply not there. There are NO greater number of houses available, and all that is happening is that developers of vertical sums are taking over the whole metro areas and turning them into neo Hong Kongs… all we need is the high rise near Mascot to scrape the wheels of incoming aircraft, and the sheets hanging on the balconies……

    Aged care facilities are, overall, a basket case, with many real issues including exploitation, abuse and neglect, and profit before people as the first motivation.

    • 0

      Harsh but true, Bob. I don’t agree with your proposition that there is a “hoarding of houses” as the ABS has identified that the majority of those who invest in housing have only one other property. I also disagree that government subsidies should be cut to those investors who are actually providing the housing that state governments won’t. If governments make available sufficient low income housing then that is when subsidies should cease.

    • 0

      Can’t see State governments generating ‘public housing’ again due to the long entrenched problems with it… they need a better approach, which is why I advocate a ‘rent/buy’ system to give householders a stake in the property and thus (hopefully) generate some self-respect over its appearance and such.

      Not a finished idea, just one thought along the way.

    • 0

      Might be a little elbow room for the single investment property owner… but we have the spectre of one of Slime Mehajer’s mates owning fifty or so under fifty different company names… that not only shows the serious deficiencies in company structures and bank lending policies, but also in the ability of any relevant authority to actually hold a person responsible and recover any losses to others.

      Such serial company things need to be brought under control, primarily by ensuring that the principals are directly and personally responsible for losses and debts.

      Been telling yez that company law and structure is 200 years behind everything else.

    • 0

      I tend to agree that there is something not quite right about the way migrants are distributed in the country. Actually they are not distributed in the country at all, they are distributed in the city.

      There must be some reason why the cost of accommodation in cities is soaring and part of it is because people want to live there. Ok the social life is good but its not that good.

      There must be a lot of overseas investment going in there and migrants coming to be with their relatives.
      It kind of begs the question what proportion of migrants come from rural areas and what proportion come from cities.

    • 0

      Yes, Bob, there are isolated cases of abuse of any system, one MP owns more than 30 rental properties, but I don’t think that those cases should be promoted as the norm. My cynicism kicks in when I read that any change to the negative gearing laws or capital gains will not affect existing owners. Do you want a link to the federal MP’s Register of Pecuniary Interests to see how many of them don’t own more than one property?

  2. 0


    And it is now in crisis for some people and also for pensioners its crunch time instead of easy time. We should be ashamed in this place as to how people have to crawl over broken glass to get a bit of help and a decent living. The last 20 plus years have been actually disastrous for our way of life here. Every one bar a few wealthy people struggle along, Rudd promised everything , and since then we’ve had bad ALP governance and now a lost LNP which does not know where it stands!
    And both parties flounder around in a pile of self satisfying nonsense , it is as I always have said , the fact that our politicians these days are just not up to it. When you see the garbage that goes into parliament. And there probably is no answer.

  3. 0

    Whats worrying me is that I am 53 and earn a good wage for a single person, am putting away extra super but since my divorce have not been able to afford to buy anywhere. I rent and have for 15 years post divorce. My lifestyle depends entirely on my ability to earn a living. I highly doubt there will be aged pension when I do eventually get to retire which is looking highly unlikely I will be able to. I have been working since I was 12 but super didn’t kick in until the 90’s and the jobs I had in the 90s paid rubbish super.

    What gets me is in Brisbane, we are now building all these multipurpose high rise buildings everywhere and many of them are now empty or only partially sold and some have renters in them. Yes they were all sold to Chinese investors and the few who can afford to purchase them. Its not rocket science we need to better use what it available. Surely its better for those empty units and the investors to have people paying lower rents. Its a steady income for the investor and better than nothing. However, as TREBOR and John have pointed out, greed is what is driving our rental and purchase markets and its only going to get worse as Brisbane continues to put up these high rise buildings. Some however that are planned sit there for months with nothing happening because people are not purchasing units off the plan. Surely this is a huge red flag that we have more than we need and that we need to use what we have better. Walk around Fortitude Valley and see all the new building with empty shops that have never been leased, empty units they have never sold or rented out. Yet we have homeless and pensioners of all walks of life struggling. There really is no need for this to occur. BBC are gleefully rubbing their hands together with all the money coming in from developers yet the reality is its causing so many issues for the public, and this is not even looking at the isolation and social issues these building cause.

    Its time council, government and developers got together and worked out what they can do about all these empty buildings.

    As for aged care, thanks to the Government its now a growth industry and profit is the focus. Thanks to soical media though the truth about the real conditions are coming out and people are speaking up. this country is in a mess and its not all the politicians fault, but just about all of it is. Bad policies, the money they waste changing areas to departments would be in the millions since 2013 alone, without one service ever being delivered. Then there’s the enquiries all now going on and all sort. The waste of tax payers money should also be investigated but ironically such an investigation would waste more tax payer money. The rot starts at the top and has been for quite some time.

    First thing we need to do is stop the wages and the life long perks the politicians get and like most of us, their wage needs to be tied to results or KPI’s. If they promise and don’t deliver, they don’t get paid. Imagine if that was the case, they would have no choice but to provide better leadership, be more responsible, and stop the rot with these ridiculous policies and schemes which although make it appear they are doing something, achieves very little indeed. They need to be more accountable all the time, making them pay at election time doesn’t solve anything, we just get another party in who does the same or worse.

  4. 0

    The current political outlook at the moment is a choice between Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dumb..and then we have compulsory voting. Around 45% will vote Tweedle Dee and 45% Tweedle Dumb, as they have done for years, so both parties go after the 10% who can’t decide and that’s why we have policies designed to appeal to a minority of voters.

    • 0

      I agree, every proposal gives part of the story, and the bad news is not included. I think we do need stronger, well run unions.

      We need to distance ourselves from the briefcases and suits from the USA, as looking over there, things are not looking that good for the average person. Big business has government by the pocketbook. It is a good bit like that here. The suits are coming for us, and we must defend ourselves. Liberals are in bed with these snakes.

    • 0

      Carpet baggers……..

  5. 0

    If I lived in Hobart and I had $420 I’d use it to buy a plane ticket. There are so many nice places to live in the country.

  6. 0

    Lucky country indeed! We have been flushed down the toilet by our STUPID, self-seeking politicians of both major parties over several decades – especially since Fraser & Keating!

    Instead of asking for crumbs for renters, these organisations need to get a bit more out there to ask for a fair go for ALL Australians, e.g.
    a. Universal Pension for ALL without any tests, other than Age (65) and Residency (say 15 years),
    b. Ensure all Resources generate Income and Tax for the people, just like in the Middle East, and we could even be a tax-free country! We have SO MUCH resources of all kinds, and such a small population – the sell-outs by politicians have been nothing less than CRIMINAL!
    c, Ensure all Large companies and the rich pay their fair share of taxes – by having a Minimum Tax system without allowing shonky deductions.

    Unless serious action is taken urgently, and we don’t stop the sell-out of our Resources, and now also Agricultural land, Electricity and other Businesses – we will slowly become a basket-case – maybe owned by China in a few decades!

    • 0

      George, I will bet my bottom dollar we will not only be owned by the Chinese by 2050, but we will be run directly from Beijing. That horse has already bolted – glad I wont be around to see/suffer the consequences. However, on the other hand, things might actually be done! Heaven help our indigenous/feminists and conservasionists when this all comes to pass!

    • 0

      Oh – a little Sharia law on the front porch never hurt nobody… as some idiots in Sydney University are advocating right now…. that’ll fix the feminists and the gays and such…..

      Bring back the lash… the big sword for the head lopping….. fling a few off buildings with a few feet of rope around their necks….or just fling ’em off…..

  7. 0

    The article is comprehensive, however I can’t agree with the idea of a new nursing home facility every year in every state. These places are not run very well, low staffed, rip off policies and it creates an enclave that separates oldies from the rest of the community. Lots of folks want to be in their own homes. High density housing means lots of sound proofing and wise use of land or else folks will have other kinds of stress. The budget handed down avoids most of our biggest problems, and puts us more in debt with no meaningful support for their victims.

    • 0

      I’d like to see an answer to this problem, Linda. My ex (for whom I’m full time carer) came up with the idea that perhaps we could organise a non profit residential village concept…. those who buy there own their own property there and sell it on for themselves etc. She has a cousin in the Adelaide Hills who does that with a church run over-whatever living facility, and it works a charm with nobody being greased along the way.

      I can imagine the opposition in councils for such a proposal….. driven by the local interest groups….. they’d screech that if we took ten people out of their holding paddock, when they can only fit in fifty out of fifty thousand, we would be cutting their business throat…. and I know which way a ‘council’ would go.

  8. 0

    Nope – dont increase the allowance . Instead encourage retirees to downsize or move to cheaper rental suburbs or cities

    • 0


      You can lead the charge, try Orroroo.

    • 0

      No way, Jose` – pensioners and other retirees are entitled to live where they choose without all this needless pressure on them to sell up and downsize and use any residual to fund their own retirement, after a lifetime of paying taxes into social security.

      Double the allowance……………………

    • 0

      If i had to rent, I would definetly move to an affordable town and save more on my pension instead of whinging and moaning and demanding greater handouts from the taxpayer

    • 0

      But pensioners and retirees are taxpayers…….. they’re just getting their fair share……

    • 0

      Raphael, affordable towns do not necessarily have a good health care structure. my niece lives in Esperance, but had to drive to Kalgoolie or perth to get basic gyno treatment that every gyno in Melbourne could do. her life depended on this treatment as she has stage 2 cervical cancer. So moving for an older person away from medical facilities is not the answer for older people with health issues(and most old people do, my grandmother lived to 105 and she had issues towards the end)

  9. 0

    Greed or fairness. Which model? Greed every time. Certainly under the current government.
    If you want even the hope of fairness then vote appropriately or accept your future.

    • 0

      Mick, a bloke called G. Orwell wrote a book some time ago called Animal Farm – you should read it! There are characters in that book who remind me so much of you (Napoleon, Snowball). Do yourself a favour and have a read – I am sure you will get the drift within 50 pages or so!

    • 0

      Oh, come on, Al – if anyone is more equal than the rest – that has to be me and thee… and sometimes I wonder about thee.

    • 0

      Mick, please enlighten us – tell us how we should vote appropriately.

      Obviously your choice would not be the Libs, so is it Labor, or maybe the Greens?

  10. 0

    I don’t recall Centrelink having rent allowance, It was called rental assistance and was not meant to pay the full portion of rent. It was for people not having home ownership and not living with family. These days that accounts for a lot of people, as the expectation of home ownership doesn’t exist anymore.

    The amount is only enough to pay for the very poorest accommodation. Like $120 a fortnight might get a single person a tent in a caravan park.
    This sort of proposition for an age pensioner who has no work prospects, is a little ridiculous. So the other part of the pension must be intended to cover some rent expenses.

    It’s more than a little bit vague, what formula they use to determine rent assistance. One would need to look at rent assistance over the last 10 years compared to increases in average rent to see if they are proportional.

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