Dick Smith blames his generation for housing crisis, calls for reduced immigration in new book


9 August 2017
Robbie Patterson for The Manly Daily

MILLIONAIRE businessman Dick Smith has taken aim at his own generation, saying its greed has crippled young people’s ability to own their first home.

He launched a scathing attack on Australia’s politicians, accusing them of being too scared to make tax changes that would be unpopular with the generation already on the “homeownership gravy train”.

“These people may be aware that the system that has skewed the game so heavily in their favour is locking the next generation out,” he wrote in Dick Smith Fair Go released this week.

Dick Smith at his Terrey Hills home. Picture: David Swift.

“But, along with property developers, they want to hold on to their investment properties and milk younger Australians for all they’re worth.”

The former Australian of the Year’s manifesto calls on the Federal Government to reduce immigration and make changes to tax breaks such as negative gearing and capital gains laws.

He also argued for a land tax to replace stamp duty so that people with multiple houses pay a percentage of their land’s worth annually to even out the playing field.

In the book, Mr Smith points out that older Australians who had benefited from tax exemptions, made up 68 per cent of the electorate so politicians were unwilling to change tax laws.

“Why would a turkey vote for an early Christmas?” he wrote, citing that investment properties had risen on average about 70 per cent since 2012.

It follows the former retailer’s public support of controversial One Nation Senator Pauline Hanson last year, in which he described her zero-net immigration policy as “spot on”.

One Nation leader Senator Pauline Hanson’s policy has gained support from Dick Smith. Picture: Mick Tsikas.

Zero net immigration means Australia takes in only the same amount of immigrants that leave.

Yesterday, the 73-year-old from Terrey Hills highlighted population growth as the single biggest issue impacting housing affordability.

“Every Australian family has a population policy, they don’t have 20 kids, they have the number of children they can give a good life to,” he told the Manly Daily.

“But our politicians have no equivalent plan — you must have an appropriate plan. We need to bring immigration down to the long-term average which it was at in Paul Keating’s time as prime minister — about 70,000 people a year.”

He argues most of the — roughly 4000 — immigrants coming to Australia per week, were picked for high-level skills meaning they could immediately compete with Australian first-home buyers, particularly in Sydney and Melbourne.

“Land and house prices depend on supply and demand. Australia’s housing supply clearly has difficulty keeping up with our breakneck population growth,” Mr Smith wrote.

Mr Smith denied that his sentiments were racist.

“The reason I wrote the book is to talk about what no one talks about,” he said.

Dick Smith published a 64-page book on housing affordability.

“If you mention population growth they say you are racist … it has nothing to do with racism, we need to live in balance. You can’t have endless population.”

He said the book was a warning to politicians that they will “destroy Australia” if they do not take heed.

“You need to get immigration down to that level so young people will be able to afford houses,” he said.

He added there would be 100 million people in Australia by the end of the century and 30 per cent of people will be unemployed if things don’t change.

In the book he also takes aim at “turbocharged bank lending”; overseas investors; and tax benefits as causing an “almost impossible-to-fix” situation of housing affordability.

Mr Smith pointed out that in just two generations, the price of a house had increased eightfold from 1.5 times the average annual income to 12 times the average annual income.

“A dramatically increasing population, a tax regime that unfairly subsidises the wealthy and overseas investors are the key drivers of the crisis,” the book, says.

The book can be downloaded for free at: dicksmithfairgo.com.au

Read the original article HERE.

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41 Comments

  • I’m not sure the high price of houses is due to a greedy generation. The governments immigration policies mean there is a lot of competition for housing and jobs. This means the house prices increase and wages fall. This is exactly what we are seeing and is wonderful for big business. Those involved in the property industry make large fortunes and most other businesses have more customers plus cheaper employment costs.

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  • Still Inspiring me Dick ,all these years since watching you as a kid ,I spent 14 years away from Oz and Brisbane on arriving back saddened me and angered at ungrateful grubs whom seem to think Thanks for holding the fort but we will be taking over now,,

  • Good onya Dick for putting your money where your mouth is. There is something terribly wrong with how affairs have been managed in this great country of ours for such a long long time, and I do hope you have success with your push for change against the entrenched and dangerous views within our media and Government.

    IMHO, there are many reasons contributing to our dilemma, and I can’t help feeling a sense of helplessness as we are silently being ushered down this path of conformity by an obscure world order, and their disciples in our midst.

    All Governments State and Federal are broke, and they’re constantly tearing their hair out dreaming up ways to raise revenue without spooking the natives. It all gets back to good and responsible planning and management of our resources, as well as realistic sustainable expenditure. The problem is there are too many politicians who allow their often misplaced agenda’s and ideologies to get in the way, and end up wasting billions not to mention the opportunities.

    It’s not just Governments either, big business, trade unions and a desire by a minority of ordinary and able Aussies to basically dodge it, is who must share the blame for the spiral this country is currently entering. We’ve actually been hovering at the edge of the whirl pool since the seventies, and have slowly become a nation of service providers who don’t really produce anything too much of worth that the rest of the world wants apart from minerals, agricultural products, health and some education. At the same time we’ve become addicted to cheap imports and through a combination of greed and incompetence have just about lost our secondary industry.

    Panic abounds whenever unfavourable news arrives from the stock markets, all because we’ve put our eggs in the one basket. God help us if anyone ever comes up with free energy, but even if a new technology like that did come from within this country we’d be too stupid to develop it ourselves, just look at the opposition renewables have attracted in the past, and the growing pains continue. You only have to look at the array of ideas that go off shore, and the public assets sold to foreign interests over the years, yes we’re broke and the dumb clowns we put in place to look after the farm have their heads up their proverbial.

    We just sell houses to each other and hope the stock market is doing well enough to give the superannuation a boost, and this is exactly what governments of all persuasions are after. They love nothing better than to have a significant section of the community, made up of the many who have been successful, those who have a good job as well as the very happy self funded grey army who are all doing quite well thanks very much. And why would that be hmmm, because that’s whom in ALL our Governments eyes will vote the bastards back in.

    Then these schemers, aided by their naive hand wringing disciples at the left fringes of Government, will be able to happily continue on with their main agenda of filling the country with millions of unskilled migrants whom they hope will provide a nice substantial labour pool for the future. It’s never been about humanitarianism, it’s all about selling toilet rolls, motor cars and houses to the masses, as well as keeping a foot on the throat of average incomes as living costs soar.

    The problem with bringing in so many unskilled migrants is that they live on centrelink payments for years, putting further strain on the economy, before they or their offspring are starting to think about being productive and able to enter the workforce, where they will be used to work for less, and generally make life tougher for those who are already under pressure. So where do we find the money for that? Oh that’s right, bung on a mining tax whoops, increase taxes etc etc.

    If all else fails just dream up some fancy scheme that allows low paid so called skilled workers with an equally fancifully named work visa to fly in from all far flung third world corners of the earth to get our wheels of industry turning.

    And just when all appears lost after further decades of incompetence, and we’re about to complete our spiral to oblivion, guess what, our fearless leaders will do what they’ve always wanted but never had the guts, they’ll finally pluck up the courage to dip their grubby hands into the superannuation billions and that should just about complete the debacle.

    Sadly, it’s no point in looking to either main political party for change, as both left and right of politics will get you the same result. But there is a glimmer of hope, remembering what occurred in the recent French elections, where the historically main contenders ran a poor second. Over to You Dick!!

  • I agree with much of what Dick is saying here with one major exception – immigration. As a christian I am against moderating immigration. The preface to moderating immigration; “were picked for high-level skills meaning they could immediately compete with Australian first-home buyers, particularly in Sydney and Melbourne”, is the problem, not the broad concept of immigration. I would rather see the debate turned back onto the politicians where the policy is changed to accept those in greatest need (i.e. refugees). Those in greatest need are unlikely to fit the model of ‘competing for Australian first home buyers’ and by accepting them we perform a vital and much needed global role – compassion for the vulnerable.

    We should seek to increase our refugee intake at the expense of high skilled immigrants. In executing this measure, I foresee a step towards equality. These people are selected not on their ability to contribute through predefined selection criteria, rather, on their need. In so many ways it is incumbent on Australia to act in this manner as we have the wealth and resources to meet this challenge.

    Turning to affordable housing, that is a question of Government policy alone. Sprawling west into greenfield is not the, rather, urban consolidation and high rise. Government should enter the development market and directly compete with developers with the ‘affordable housing’ hat on. This was a policy of sorts in the immediate post Global financial crisis period when the then Prime Minister instigated the building of affordable housing in the suburbs, but not in the style of the 60-80s (i.e. housing commission).

    A complex debate for sure and what I have said above is yet another opinion on this topic. The idea of sustainability is the key, not population growth per sae. We need to address the question ‘how do we participate in the solving of population growth’ not ‘how do we avoid it’.

  • It is not all about investors driving up prices. Only 32% or thereabouts of houses are rented, and of those 75% have an owner with a negative geared loan. Therefore only about 24% of homes have any sort of negative gearing. Approx 30% of all homes are owner occupied with no loan ( i.e they own the home outright), and about 40% are owner occupied with a mortgage. So negative gearing on less than 1/3 of all properties cannot be pushing up prices. Capital gains tax benefits can’t be responsible either because most homes are only held for approx. 7 years and increase approx. 50% in value over that 7 years. So the gains tax relief only accounts for approx. 25% of the home’s value (not all of it like some people argue). Also many people do not want to buy a home, such as defence force people who get moved around and contractors who might move from town to town, and young people moving around and travelling etc… If there is no incentive for people to invest in rental homes, rental prices will go up as supply slows.
    I personally believe cashed up investors are driving up prices somewhat, especially overseas ones. Stop that first and see what the impact is. Then, the only way to see if removing negative gearing and capital gains tax concessions will help housing affordability is to remove those concessions for all new property investments from a certain date (leave it in place for existing rentals), and observe what happens. If the theory is correct price growth should slow and then prices should drop.
    The main thing that ever pushes up prices is demand vs supply. Our demand is too high, therefore prices will continue to rise.
    Also, a small fact to consider. In 1975 the average Aussie house was 122 square metres, 3 bedrooms, no ensuite. Today the average new home is at least 180 sq metres, 4 bedrooms, ensuite, garage with remote, 5 or 6 star energy rating, and made from more expensive materials. It costs more to build it.

  • Thank God we finally have someone in this country who is prepared to speak out and who has the financial resources to keep up the pressure. My brother, an Economist has said for some years that Australian are living in a fools paradise and unfortunately he is right.
    I was fortunate to grow up through the 50’s, 60’s and seventies and on reflection I realise that those were the halcyon days for Australia. I saw a dramatic change for the worse in the country after Gough Whitlam became Prime Minister. One area was the failure of the apprenticeship system, a system that guaranteed Australia with an artisan class who through history have been the builders of civilisations. After Gough being a Tradesperson was seen as a lowly occupation and the schools promoted that fact.
    Additionally the costs in health system seemed to blow out enormously. When growing up it was normal for families to have private health, which at the time was relatively cheap. For many years now I have not been able to afford that insurance.
    We have lost our manufacturing base also which was traditionally a large employer. Companies are now bottom line driven with no thought to the future or the society they live in and where the owners and managers enjoy the privileges.
    Dick Smith has explained the housing crisis succinctly so I don’t need to add anything other than my unreserved support.
    He has also dealt with the population crisis which to anyone but a moron would understand the negative ramifications for our country.
    Unfortunately most Australian are apathetic about politics and understandably so. We have had a succession of weak politicians bent upon self agrandissement and pandering to the United Nations in an attempt to gain some form of personal recognition. It is time to think of and look after our own country regardless of what other nations think of us. I now spend time as a writer and in my Book of Thoughts created a piece of prose that starts with “I weep for thee my Country, Now governed by the weak”. It certainly time for all Australians to take a more active role in bringing our Country back to the values of our earlier years. We need to support Dick Smith and Pauline Hanson as true Australian who are seeking a better outcome for our children and grandchildren before it is too late.
    I would like to help, but am limited with resources so somehow we should formulate a plan to support what Dick Smith has commenced. I am happy to be contacted in this endeavour.

    • I fully agree with this comment we need to wake up and stop being so empathic, speak up and be counted the polies are too weak to open their mouths in the fee of being called a redneck or racist, as Dick said we don’t have the recourses to sustain our population, there is no industry left in Aus.
      I watched land line on the weekend and the farmer said that he couldn’t get Australian’s to work on his farm and had to import workers from over seas, this is totally wrong and the government need to make them take up jobs instead of letting them sit at home and collect the DOLE.

      • I always find it hard to believe the farmer can’t get Australians to work on his farm. This statement is repeated so often. What are the pay and conditions being offered. It is well known overseas workers are being exploited in Australia. The government sits back and lets it happen. This is exactly what happens in the US where illegal immigrants work for very little money on farms.

  • As a Baby Boomer, whilst I agree with Dick Smith that Australia cannot sustain its current trajectory, I find such blanket statements that our generation are to blame to be misleading, at best. Certainly those who are driven by greed and exploitation are culpable, however they are in every generation. The real drivers towards humanity’s destruction are consumerism, advertising, relentless increased production of unnecessary goods and technology, and the unchallenged legitimacy given to profit being more important than people.

  • Politicians are the same as every other human being on the planet called earth. They are driven by selfishness and greed. Ausaid and any other government departments that get paid by aussie taxpayer, to give away other peoples money should be closed. Imagine having to borrow money, then someone wants you to borrow more so they can have some. I cant afford to send money overseas nor do I want to. This should be left to the individual and they can donate as much as they like.

  • I am a lady in my late 70’s and would like to leave Australia the way i remembered growing up. I remember having parks and backyards to play in. I would dearly love to leave Australia not being surrounded by high-rise unit building. I wish you all the best in your endeavours.

  • Well done Dick Smith. Finally someone has the courage to speak up about the insane policy of never ending growth within the boundaries of a finite planet. Our society and environment are both spiralling out of control.
    Our political leaders are failing to act on climate change, the most critical and challenging issue mankind has ever faced. We are fast running out of time to break free of our fossil fuel addiction and transition to an era of clean renewable energy if we want our civilisation to survive. We need strong leadership in these dark times to facilitate this transition and our Federal government is failing dismally.
    I see the media is hysterically screaming racism to your proposal of reducing immigration. The proposal you have put forward has nothing to do with people’s ethnicity and everything to do with a sustainable population. You only have to look at places like India to realize that increasing the population exponentially only leads to millions of people being forced to live in poverty, despair and misery. Humanity needs to understand this concept and we need more courageous people like you to stand up and be counted.
    Humanity is at a crossroads where thoughtful people everywhere are realising that our current economic model is doomed to failure and will only lead to the dire consequences you predict. Bring on the New Age of living gently in our beautiful world rather than plundering the only earth we have as we barrel blindly towards our own oblivion.

    • India as an example is groaning under 1.3B growing at an exponential rate! …..and they’re all scrambling to get over here, the US and UK. That is the problem. Had they controlled that like Singapore did, despite do-gooder world criticism, they would be in better shape at 400M.

  • I just read your fantastic book on Housing Affordability with great facts & charts.

    I have 4 adult children who can’t afford to live in Sydney due to the high demand from immigration and investors with tax breaks. Is it fair that we subsidise investors with multiple properties when our children can’t even afford a home to live in.

    Congestion is the other major issue from high immigration. We all cram into Sydney & Melbourne with no plans from government to decentralise or house the extra population.

    The Federal Government could easily reduce demand from immigration and investors; improve housing affordability and the budget all in one go. They do nothing but argue over marriage equality & their citizenship.

    Thank you so much Dick for bringing this up with concrete facts. You have a lot of support

  • I agree with all intelligent comments above and support Dick Smith with this crusade. We know and understand that those belonging to that famous 1% won’t be very happy and it is because they are so greedy that cannot see the impact these policies and lack of good policies are creating around the majority. If the resources are distributed more reasonably, we would have a better world and all individuals in our society would be more happy and there would be less problems or no problems at all. Greediness is dominating all corners of this wonderful planet and it will be the main cause of destruction. Words of Wisdom as shared by our brothers Native Americans:
    “When the last tree has been cut down, the last fish caught, the last river poisoned, only then will we realize that one cannot eat money.”

  • It beggars belief how the so-called professional politicians remain blind to this issue; looks like there is too much sand in Canberra with too many heads stuck in it. This is why parties like One Nation get votes because, despite their obvious lackings in many areas, they are the only ones who listen to real people and not just pressure groups, professional lobbyists, etc.

    This is not a matter of Left Vs Right, or Rich Vs Poor, or Educated Vs Unskilled; its pure numbers and the numbers of people on the planet as a whole are too large. So, we can either deal with this in an ordered, thought out manner, or let war, famine, and disease do the job for us.

    How do we deal with it:

    1 – no foreign aid to any nation that does not have a human population program
    2 – bring immigration down to ZERO until our infrastructure is brought up to scratch
    3 – education
    4 – political pressure

    Its no point taxing people out of having children, because its the children who will suffer and they didn’t decide to be born. Its up to us, the people, to demand our so-called representatives represent us and so I implore all readers of this, irrespective of their political leanings, to demand action from their local representatives at all level of government. If you found this web site, you can find the email address of your local MP!

  • I have always known that excessive immigration has been a problem to our country.Eg. the welfare system. the health system is paying for thousands of immigrants that have not contributed to the economy of the country and the cost to each citizen has been spread far too thinly, eg taking more money from pensioners and low-income earners to pay the burden of excessive immigration.eg …outcome–poverty… Why do we allow people to pay no tax at all. Primary income should always be taxed and if you want a second source of income, the second business should not be offset against the primary income to reduce tax…outcome …lower tax receipts for the Government.
    Our country has been sold off to foreign investment. only Australian citizens should be allowed to own property.
    ..outcome …higher housing prices for young people…

  • Yes i totally agree with you all.It is just that everywhere i look there are more ISLANDERS ,KIWIS around that are taking up everything they can,JOBS FOR US,AUSTRALIANS, health care HOUSING,NEED I GO ON. I am NOT a racist but it is about time we AUSTRALIANS looked out for AUSTRALIANS FIRST. I just had my eyes opened again when i went to centrelink to fix some paperwork and i was so bloody angry at what i saw,it is not pick the immigrants any more,it is pick the AUSSIE.
    It used to be ASIANS that we were worried about,they are still taking over everything WE NEED. But the problem is more than that, we need to stop immigration now,full stop.Why is it that now instead of flyers,information leaflets stating you must be AN AUSTRALIAN CITIZEN to apply, they now also say you MUST be a New Zealander as well.I didn’t know we were new zealanders now,when did that happen,where will it all end.
    There is a lot of problems happening in Australia that are not our doing and we need to do something about it all. Pauline Hansons one nation has been very quiet lately,i wonder why.
    We need people with a BACKBONE to run this country,any suggestions?Keep on going Dick ,you are one of a rare breed.

      • myself and another australian were recently replaced by two kiwis for no other reason than that they are big guys, with a gung-ho attitude, and willing to forgo lunch breaks etc, rather than being average sized australians who consider the longterm effects of being rough on machinery and have the nerve to expect entitlements such as lunch breaks. Many employers in the mining and construction industries have this attitude, anyone in these industries can immediately notice the disproportionate amount of these guys employed in these industries while australians are struggling to get a look-in… or is this another area that is off-limits to discussion?

  • What Dick says is common sense and many of us have had this view for a long, long time.

    It’s just not Australia but much of the world. But it’s just not people who will suffer. Imagine being a tree, river or wild animal in this world? People have become the cane toads of our world. Sad but true.

    • It’s sobering when you think of the resources needed to provide a decent existence for a human being. The person must be provided with food, clothing, shelter, education and medical services. But that’s just the elementary needs of the human being. We all have hopes, dreams and aspirations that we expect to realise too. That’s a lot of pressure placed on a society. And then, of course, we make waste – lot’s of it.

      • To “People are Cane Toads”: I think we are much worse than cane toads, as the human species is the most destructive, cruel and perverted life form on this planet. Earth is the ONLY planet with an abundance of life, yet we create extinction, and other horrific and cruel events to each other & every other living entity on this planet. We poison our air & water & cause massive destruction to mother Earth so that Homo sapiens, the insane species, can exist in an unnatural environment.

        • We all need to take a good long hard look at ourselves.

          We whinge about jobs yet we buy product from china that used to be made here. We buy cheap furniture knowing it comes from illegal logging…. you know where I’m going with this.
          The next time you buy something, stop and ask yourself ” what am I really buying”.
          Together a difference can be made. Easier said than done.

          Go hard Dickie Smith. I’m with you.

  • I am a Geography teacher and also make Geography video programs (Pro Doco/Kanopy) looking at environments and the effects of people, as Dick Smith did some years ago in “Population Puzzle.” My students wonder why the term “sustainable development” does not seem to enter the population discussion as they study the World’s most rapid population growth, highest housing prices and increasing congestion in Australian capital cities. They do see why a billionaire apartment developer openly says that we should have 100 million people(to make more money from sales) and therefore supports high levels of immigration. Dick and others including myself know this is unsustainable as would the projected 36 million plus by 2050 on current trends . Geography students know much of Australia is arid and there is rising youth unemployment and casualisation of jobs yet the politicians have no plan for sustainable population growth to stop the pressure on infrastructure, jobs, housing,the environment and society. Clearly they see every migrant as a taxpayer, and if they are young, no pension to pay. Never mind the resulting issues including lack of classrooms, hospital beds, parking spaces, traffic congestion.

    • 100% correct! Even intelligent Indian Dr Sam Pitroda understands this. Simple common sense. Australia is 85% blazing desert. Send the 100M migrants to live there (greedy apartment builders take note)

    • Steve, You’re spot on. “sustainable development” must be the issue here. How often do we hear that none of our infrastructure or agriculture or welfare, etc etc can cope or keep up with demand, yet we continually increase the population with less ability to pay for the increased needs. The classic case of ostrich head in the sand.

  • I am 49yrs old married with 3 children .I want to be able to help in any way possible. i feel the country is heading into a train wreck.It makes me sick to the core that as i am writing this these bastards in charge and labour and the greens are being paid with tax payer money concerning them selves with gay marriage and recently parliament citizenenship rules.There has been nothing meaningful done in this country since they oust Tony Abbott. I think you are a true hero Dick smith,you are saying what myself and way too many Australians in my age group have been thinking for a long time.We must help and educate our young to see how they are being conned by the selfish,powerful and greedy.

    ,

    • Agreed. Canberra is wasting our $$$ pandering to the lunatic fringe (gay votes), than focussing on migration control.

  • My family and I totally agree with Dick,who by the way would make a great prime minister,you cannot keep exchanging one family dwelling for oversized apartment blocks containing forty families,at my place of employment with a staff of around three hundred ,our lunchroom discussions are always the same but nothing ever changes,its time for change,we support Dick all the way,lead on mate.

    • Well said Rick i also think that he would be the best and most decent prime minister this country has ever had. Furthermore when i see the existing & previous bunch of goons that are running this country, it makes me ashamed of being an Australian.

  • I have just sold my house as part of down sizing in the northwest of Sydney. In the last 3 months there have been 5 sales in my cul de sac. All in the 1.5-2M range and all to Chinese buyers. A friend of the family works for one of the largest property valuers in Sydney. He suggested anecdotally that “over 50%” of the valuations being carried out appeared to be for Chinese names. The anecdotal evidence is that the suggested 7% of Chinese purchases in the market the government quotes is way too low. It would appear that mainland Chinese purchase through local resident proxies.

    Agree with dick on
    – Reduce immigration to long term average. Allow the infrastructure to catch up and young to have a chance to purchase a house
    – Remove negative gearing. It gives my generation far too much of an advantage.
    – Dial capital gains tax back on property. We dont need need these incentives to invest in property. It encourages far too much money into residential property
    – Broad based land tax. Discourage land banking and unproductive use of capital
    – Tax foreign nationals significantly when purchasing residential property. 15% is not probably not enough. This is not a level playing field.

    I cannot see sensible policy happening until we have a recession. Given the way that private debt is climbing this may be inevitable. As more capital is chewed by mortgage payments debtors will have less to spend elsewhere. Demand will fall off. China could sneeze. Trump could make a wrong move. The Euro could collapse. Having so much debt makes us more sensitive to many world events.

    The current generation of 35-45 year olds have not seen a recession in Australia. They are the ones making the biggest financial commitments at that point in their lives and have only known a growing economy and low interest rates. If these last two elements change this cohort with their average 600K sydney mortgages are going to feel a world of pain.

  • Dick Smith is spot on. Australia is being sold off by traitors and is being run for greedy, already wealthy oldies who disgust me no end. I welcome the coming recession and housing price crash because if it doesn’t happen, there will be a revolution on the streets.

    • Yes but Chodley, even if houses become more affordable, there’s still too much demand for them and building houses chews up land – farm land and, worse, bushland. There are too many people wanting housing.

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