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Cost-of-Living Challenges: Time for More Creative Use of Leisure Time Near Home?

By Denis Bright

The upsurge on post-COVID air fares to exotic holiday destinations in Australia and overseas justifies a closer look at creative activities closer to home. Frequent wet weathers spells during the summer have been an inhibiting factor up here in the Deep North of Australia.

With the approach of the Australia Day holiday, readers should not fret about which flags are flapping that day. More readers are likely to be interested in weather conditions on this late-summer public holiday. AccuWeather Brisbane has a reasonable record of immediate and medium-term weather forecasts. As with political forecasts, there is still a big margin for error in the interpretations.

The onset of Australia Day can bring out unexpected political storms. The Byron Echo (17 January 2024) reminded everyone that the jingoism once associated with the celebration of the public holiday on 26 January has been toned down since the events of the Cronulla Riots on 11 December 2005. An angry crowd assembled to reclaim Cronulla Beach in the name of Aussie Pride (Image: Australian Museum):

 

 

If there is a social concern this year, it should be about cost-of-living increases. Using a term made popular by Sir Robert Menzies in his radio address on 22 May 1942, today’s Forgotten People are likely to be living in outer metropolitan and regional areas. Robert Menzies leadership time had not yet arrived at the time of this political broadcast. Japanese midget submarines attacked vessels in Sydney Harbour on the night of 31 May 1942 with a large death toll on the RAN depot ship Kuttabul.

 

When the Pacific War Came to Australia in 1942 (Image: RAN)

 

As in the past, the political equivalents of the federal LNP miss the mark in their perceptions of forgotten marginalized people whom Sir Robert Menzies identified as the middle classes who could not identify with the struggles of the broader Labor Movement. This sector of society has been well rewarded in the post-1996 era with compromises like Stage 3 Tax Cuts and offsets for investment in rental properties.

However, today’s financially stressed households live in comparative wealth when compared with the new legions of homeless and displaced Australians. Their plight was documented by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

A contemporary style of terraced housing has emerged with compact surrounding like this example in Dakabin, thirty kilometres from Brisbane’s CBD (Image: realestate.com.au).

 

 

The asking price is affordable by today’s standards. The property has a negotiable price of just over $500,000. It offers a well-appointed interior décor, access to a nearby train station, shopping complexes and schools. A family could expect to be paying $750 a week in loan repayments until 2054 with the added risk of a variable rate loan option. The possibilities of capital gains in an inflated housing market facilitated relocations to more spacious surroundings before 2054 when payments on a thirty-year loan were finalized.

The nearby Northlakes Shopping Complex provides no shortage of retail outlets. Its spacious shopping malls compensate for the limited extent of backyard living spaces. The Scentro Group acquired this asset in 2014. Unlike the financially challenged householders, both Scentro and Westfield are multinational companies on the no tax list provided by ABC News despite their revenue flow of $203.6 million in the latest available year of 2021-22.

 

The Sprawling Northlakes Shopping Complex

 

Relief from such built-up surroundings is available at lakeside locations and pleasant coastal locations like Bribie Island. The access roads are toll-free road. Concessional public transport is also available to Bribie Island from connecting buses at Caboolture Station (Translink 640 Bus). Thanks to initiatives by the Queensland Government the connection is provided by an hourly service with an affordable two-zone fare. This is quite a remarkable service for an outer metro area.

 

By Translink Bus Connections to Bribie Island

 

In Brisbane, the City Council has reduced the cost of swimming to just two dollars a day. For seniors, there is also access to free bus and even Citycat travel at most off-peak periods.

State government subsidies and payments to the Brisbane City Council (BCC) are so generous that this arm of local government can pass these concessions onto the public in its $2.6 billion budget for 2023-24. BCC has a surplus approaching $600 million. Parts of outer northside Brisbane are in the adjacent Moreton Bay Council area. These options do not extend beyond the BCC city limits. Within Brisbane, the decade-long hold of the LNP will be tested on 16 March 2024 by Labor’s Lord Mayoral candidate Tracey Price and Johathan Sriranganathan from the Greens. Both opposition candidates promise more services for residents and visitors to Brisbane.

In the Moreton Bay Council area. residents can of course choose to miss a day at the beach to join the memorial to the Australian Light Horse at the Caboolture Troop and Military Museum on 26 January where the Australia Day Address will be delivered by the LNP’s Terry Young MP for Longman:

 

 

Late summer holidays are a precious time before the routine of work, school and family life establishes the character of 2024 in every household. Environmental education by parents and their schools can steer families towards lower cost activities as recommended by local travel promotion agencies (Image: Visit Moreton Bay):

 

 

Aspiring leaders seeking election in the forthcoming council and state elections might consider replacing some soggy leaflets to advertise partisan politics with hands-on activities for their heartland constituents in acknowledgment of the cost-of-living squeeze.

Readers might decide if reenactment of those charges of the Australian Light Horse in Palestine (1916-18) is a creative outlet for the public holiday on 26 January 2024. Surely, there is enough suffering in Palestine today to avoid dwelling on cavalry charges in places like Gaza. Over a century ago, France and Britain became the power brokers in redrawing the maps of the Middle East 1918. Britain gained temporary control of Palestine, Iraq and Egypt. France held sway in other parts of the Eastern Mediterranean in current trouble-spots like Syria and Lebanon.

Denis Bright (pictured) is a financial member of the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA). Denis is committed to consensus-building in these difficult times. Your feedback from readers advances the cause of citizens’ journalism. Full names are not required when making comments. However, a valid email must be submitted if you decide to hit the Replies Button.

 

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13 comments

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  1. John C Quiggin

    Hi Denis

    It was nice to run into you today, and I agree on the merits of holidaying near home. For me, it’s the Sunshine Coast.

  2. Clakka

    Well observed Denis,

    I’ll be here in the deep south, way west of Melb, hopefully raising a sweat, not a flag, whilst farnarkeling in my shed with a saw horse.

    Hopefully I too will be celebrating a successful farnarkel.

  3. Andrew Smith

    One struggles when hearing middle class or middle majority of Australians in oversized houses and cars complain about cost of living issues as opposed to low income who have permanent ‘cost of living’ crises…. but the latter often have some joie de vivre for simple pleasures in life, or how to get your two bob’s worth.

    For many of us in the middle can become quite out of touch victimhood, anecdotally a friend’s partner was complaining about energy costs (whatever Oz MSM were dog whistling), but did not realise a less wealthy nation they were visiting had relatively higher energy costs…..

    She at least had the wherewithal and powers of reflection to realise and say ‘listen to us, we sound like a bunch of losers complaining about Oz, while swanning around Europe’ nowadays complaining about cost of air fares…….. thanks to RW MSM we are all accountants now?

  4. Burleigh Waters

    Great article Denis!!!

    I love the photo of Currumbin cascades. Sadly acreage property in that area is unaffordable. Gold Coast prices have absolutely exploded which creates huge challenges.

  5. Leila

    A good reconstruction of our times with a historical perspective from Denis

  6. Shirley

    Let’s remain focused on living standards while Labor Governments retain control of all the mainland states and the Commonwealth.

  7. Heather

    Time to discover your own backyard – local community, state or country – and learn about your local environment, learn to take care of the land and it takes care of you.

  8. Even Stephen

    Pleased that the Q Premier has taken up price manipulations by major retail food outlets: Good work Steven Miles

  9. Ivy

    Denis, Thanks for a well-written article on an interesting topic.

  10. James Robo

    Well research as always Denis

  11. Even Stephen

    The big three retailing companies for household grocery items and other related supplies are also co-operating with the Q Government in its inquiry into price irregularities. Unlike many multinational companies, Woolworths paid a reasonable amount of taxation in 2022-23-$631 million on a net profit of $1.7 billion. Noone seems put off by the inquiry into the Big 3 household suppliers. This is good politics by a youthful premier who is able to welcome an inquiry into the redevelopment of the Brisbane Cricket Grounds. The byelection date has been selected for Inala on 16 March to coincide with the BCC election date. Margie Nightingale is an outstanding candidate to fill this spot on behalf of the people of Inala. I am expected a very good result after the hard work done for the people of Inala by the Palaszczuk family members since 1984.

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