The throttling of V6 engines, driven incompetently, vibrate tirelessly through the single-layer sliding windows of my rented flat, the seals of which gave out alongside the value of the formerly Australian-made bogan boxes. They’re tearing away against every will of their four-speed automatic transmissions, whose soul actions flood the engine with fuel that’s striding far past the income of the accelerator at $2 per litre.
The time? Pay it no mind, as the occupants have transcended mere linearity. By my count, this is simply their sixth, seventh, or even eighth daily six-minute roundtrip to (presumably) 7-Eleven down the road. The occupants know not of future planning and avoiding the unnecessary effort (and noise) of repeated journeys.
The disturbances? Pay it no mind, as the recalcitrant frequent flying alcohol-abusing pest is untouchable. He abuses relatives, next door neighbours, far away neighbours, and police – yet he remains. Years of all-hours yelling, fights with all comers, loud pumping music, revving cars, driving like a fuckwit and unlicenced, all apparently outside the realms of any kind of punishment. Such is the power of an individual who completely understands the absolute limits of the systems and structures designed to protect people who need them more than he does.
Emergency services? Pay them no mind, as you’ll be calling in various flavours of assistance at least once a month to clean up a violent mess, break up out of control parties, or because you can hear someone going berserk destroying the very house they’re living in.
The music? Pay it no mind, Deafcon 1 can be reached through tactical application of benzos and earplugs, here to save my Tuesday night’s sleep before an early start at work on Wednesday morning. The echo of endless triplet flows, booming basslines, mumble raps and fucking horrific amateur DJ remixes of The Notorious BIG on YouTube ripple off my walls and floors before they reach my ear drum – soon enough I might literally be ready to die.
The perpetual garbage tip on the nature strip? Pay it no mind, with rubbish accumulating faster than the local government can remove it – sometimes returning mere hours after collection – my privately rented palatial accommodation adjoining the perpetual pile may as well be in New Delhi. And the rent is going up anyway.
From my rented bogan amphitheatre high above the shrubbery and crumbling adjoining fence, though unfortunately less than 10m away from all of the shit I just outlined, I see it all and have seen it all. And I’m trapped here now just as much as they are there, however better my lot might be by outright comparison.
Neglected due diligence aside, with all of the real estate agents back in their boxes – steel-cap boots firmly pressing down on the other foot – what remains of the housing boom has been whittled away by a wily coyote at the Reserve Bank of Australia whose single salary is twice that of the Prime Minister, and is enough to purchase a medium-tier two-bed apartment in Brisbane CBD with cash each year.
Possible first home buyers, busted by heavily reduced lending ability and facing off greedy owners expecting March money in a December environment, are trapped in rentals with no viable available alternative or facing eviction into a tent as the market struggles to readjust. Having descended into geomagnetic chaos, the moral compasses of landlords and property managers seeing dollar signs off the back of record-low vacancy rates means many peasant tenants are facing rent increases north of 25% year-on-year.
They’re considered the “lucky ones” – housed, but trapped in a cycle propped up by decades of government inaction (or action, depending on your point of view) and concreted in by former Prime Minister John Howard. His moves on tax while in government cemented the treatment of housing in Australia as an investment instead of somewhere to live for all subsequent generations. Some would argue it started well before that, which puts it in the league of ‘literally before I was born’ – and I’m not that young anymore.
Imagine paying some Howard voter for somewhere to live in 2022. Imagine having your future written for you before you were even born. That bushy-browed mutt cemented a windfall for Liberal-sympathetic demographics which has slimy tentacles reaching so far overboard that they could even be within the boundaries of the property you’re reading this from right now. But the outlook isn’t great for homeowners in my age bracket either.
The dumbest of cunts who managed to really embrace and soak in their fear of missing out were able and willing to pay premiums more than 25% above market rates to secure some walls and a roof. Now they’re facing “high” interest rates, or will do eventually moving into 2023. I just wasted a bunch of Saturday mornings.
What happens to the people that were stretching to get in in the first place? What happens when they default or have a fire sale and need a rental to move into while vacancy rates are at or below 2% nationwide? Folks imprisoned in mortgages or top dollar rented-out mortgages are in for a shitload more pain yet.
As the COVID waves continued to peak and peter, the Pringles got smaller, and the mortgages got larger. All the while, what you earn is flat as a tack and falling. You’re probably also still saddled with thousands in student debt needed to get a job in the first place, which acts as a further severe anchor to your ability to borrow and further contribute to the cycle. Add to all that a skyrocketing cost of existing generally and you’re pretty well fucked on the spot. Why even get up in the morning?
All subsequent governments have been too scared to touch the fucked housing bubble in any meaningful way, lest they shit on The Australian-reading, News Corp columnist-inhaling demographics which are still needed to win elections. We might be stuck in their neglected premium prisons for now, but the passage of time will take care of them soon enough.
Howard helped to create a generation of mini-Gerry Harvey’s that can just whip out some equity from under a bedroom pillow to solve problems for themselves and create some for others. The rest of us, and especially those at the bottom of the food chain, have lower prospects and are generally worse off across the board right from the time we pop(ped) out. Surely that is an advanced and fair Australia we can all be proud of.
Factors outside of my control mean there is almost literally nowhere else to go. I should be happy to pay more for it too, I’m told, despite its proximity to the atrociously managed bullshit I didn’t know about before I moved in.
In any case, I’ll be sure to consider my immensely privileged imprisonment in a rattling Howard hovel the next time I’m kept awake on a work night.