The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - - NEWS - DARYL PASSMORE

IT WAS 1988, Christo­pher Skase and Alan Bond were still do­ing busi­ness, Kylie Minogue was rid­ing high in the charts with I Should Be So Lucky and it took the av­er­age worker more than two weeks to earn enough to buy a video recorder.

Turns out we are the lucky ones to­day, ac­cord­ing to lead­ing de­mog­ra­pher and so­cial re­searcher Mark McCrindle, who has done a cost-of-liv­ing com­par­i­son that shows a whole range of es­sen­tials, house­hold goods and lux­u­ries are much more af­ford­able for to­day’s Aus­tralians than they were 30 years ago.

“This gen­er­a­tion does not know how good they have got it,” he said. “Things are not as dire as we some­times think.”

Three decades ago, when Aus­tralians were cel­e­brat­ing the bi­cen­te­nary of the ar­rival of the First Fleet and Bris­bane was pre­par­ing to host World Expo 88, the av­er­age weekly in­come was $465. To­day it is $1544. It was harder to find a job in the af­ter­math of the 1987 stock mar­ket crash, with un­em­ploy­ment run­ning at 9.2 per cent then, com­pared with 6 per cent now.

A new Holden Com­modore cost $20,014 – 43 weeks of av­er­age earn­ings. To­day, the equiv­a­lent will set you back $33,690, tak­ing just 21.8 weeks to earn.

It’s even cheaper in real terms to fill the car with fuel. The price of petrol has risen 2.3 times over the pe­riod, while wages are up 3.3 times.

A Com­modore 64 com­puter was priced at $786 – eight days of in­come – com­pared with the nine hours it takes to earn the $379 needed to buy a Len­ovo note­book now.

The price of a re­turn air­fare to Lon­don has dropped from $1300 in 1988 to $1188, tak­ing four days’ pay now in­stead of 14.

“We of­ten talk about the cost of liv­ing and how ex­pen­sive it is now. But the sta­ples of life, elec­tronic and house­hold goods are far lower to­day than ever be­fore,” Mr McCrindle said.


1988 price

The ma­jor ex­cep­tion to the trend is the soar­ing cost of hous­ing. The av­er­age house price in Bris­bane is now $531,248 – 7.5 times the $71,000 in 1988 – as the pop­u­la­tion dou­bled to 2.4 mil­lion over the three decades. How­ever, a trip- Time to earn 2018 price ling of wages, lower taxes and record-low in­ter­est rates mean Queenslanders are still bet­ter off over­all.

Mort­gage re­pay­ments on the av­er­age-priced Bris­bane house are equiv­a­lent to half the av­er­age an­nual in­come – Timeme to earn slightly be­low the 54 per cent in 1988.

Gene Tunny of Adept Eco­nomics said: “It is much harder to save up a de­posit than it once was. While a typ­i­cal de­posit was once 40 per cent of af­ter-tax in­come, it is now around 85 per cent. House prices have grown much faster than in­comes since 1988, so young peo­ple are def­i­nitely right to com­plain about hous­ing af­ford­abil­ity. We can’t ex­pect in­ter­est rates to re­main this low for ever and home­buy- ers should con­sider whether they could af­ford mort­gage re­pay­ments at higher in­ter­est rates,” Mr Tunny said.

Mr McCrindle said the biggest win­ners are those who got into the prop­erty mar­ket be­fore the price boom.

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