(Image: Mitchell Squire/Private Media)
(Image: Mitchell Squire/Private Media)

Scott Morrison’s legacy — even if he says he doesn’t want to leave one — will be a material degradation in the economic lives of young Australians for decades to come. And yesterday, with his proposal to allow people to raid their super to buy housing, he’s seeking to entrench and extend that.

Climate policy. Fiscal policy. Wages. Housing. Education. At every turn, young Australians have been dudded by this government. And now, as if in reward for having their lives placed on hold for two years to protect older Australians from a pandemic, they’re now told they need to sacrifice their retirement savings not for a better opportunity to buy a first home, but for an opportunity to bid the prices of housing owned by wealthy seniors up, so the latter can push the proceeds into their super, where they’ll enjoy tax concessions funded by taxpayers and an ever-expanding burden of public debt.

And who are the taxpayers on the hook for that? Oh yeah, younger Australians.

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You have to at least acknowledge the sheer, staggering genius of working out how to fuck an entire generation coming, going and on the way through. Young people have a lifetime ahead of paying for the privilege of handing their own wealth over to older Australians.

On every key issue, young Australians will wear the cost of the Morrison government for much of their working lives. Our climate inaction, and the related failure to provide global leadership for international climate action, will make Australians hotter, poorer and more exposed to disasters for the rest of the century and beyond.

Paying down Morrison and Frydenberg’s trillion dollar debt, funded by a permanent increase in the size of government spending without a similar increase in taxation, will be a fiscal burden borne by taxpayers for decades to come.

Wages growth, especially for young people and low-income earners, already stagnant for 10 years, is now falling in real terms and will continue to do so — indeed, Morrison’s policy is that real wages should fall.

Buying a house for young people is a competition with government-subsidised investors. The higher education system has been deliberately targeted and crippled, with young people carrying debt decades into the future for the privilege of accessing it.

As the election campaign shows, there’s never a point when the exploitation of young people becomes so egregious that someone calls time and declares they’ve suffered enough; for those in on the giggle, there’s always another rort. Until yesterday it was rats and mice stuff — like Morrison expanding access to the much-rorted seniors’ health card to wealthy seniors. But transferring the small super balances of young people trying to buy a home to the pockets of homeowning seniors is a whole new level.

For Morrison and the Liberals, the real targets aren’t young people. This is a policy designed to reward the Liberal base while attacking the Great Satan of Liberal theology: industry super funds. Once upon a time, unions occupied a senior place in the Liberal demonology, but industry funds have, for the ideological zealots of the right, arisen from the ashes of the union movement and become more dangerous than unions ever were. If the Morrison government is defeated, it will be wholly apt that it goes out desperately lashing at its great enemy, trying to drag it to hell along with the Morrison-era Liberal Party.

But who knows — perhaps enough young voters will fall for the nonsense about helping them buy homes (despite Jane Hume admitting this morning that the measure will push house prices up) and enough disaffected older traditional Liberal voters will see the dollar signs from higher property prices, enough to save some seats, stop a teal or two, and enable Morrison to cling to minority government.

The deep irony is that Morrison loves traditional, wealthy home-owning Liberal voters right up until they have to go into aged care. At that point, they’re on their own — literally, in so many cases. Ask the families of the more than 1350 aged care residents who’ve died of COVID this year alone.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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