ROBERT’S REALITY CHECKReaders, when you think of a group that is maligned and vigorously attacked by the government, which one comes to mind? The ABC? Refugees? Centrelink recipients? NGOs? Bikies? I surmise none of you are think- ing of the building industry, an all-powerful parasite with interests represented by manipulative lob- byists and secured by large political donations.
Yet there is one man who believes the building industry is discriminated against by the gov- ernment, the banks, Lucy Turnbull, social housing occupants, and first-time home buyers, and as such, deserves our sympathy. That man is The Australian columnist, Robert Gottliebsen.
Pearl never reads The Australian – it is as unpalatable as a breakfast of bone broth with whisked eggs, filled with fear-mongering and hate for the common man. But with the Eastern Suburbs under constant threat from the development scourge, I suggest readers put aside any bias and take a seri- ous look at Gottliebsen’s article, “Home Building Fears Realised,” online. It reeks of pure despera- tion and hysteria, employing the same bully-boy tactics the building industry is known for. It is the ravings of someone either out of touch with reality or doing the lob- byists’ bidding. I relished picking it to pieces for its pure hypocrisy, and I hope readers do too.
In his article, Gottliebsen admonishes anyone – including the “meddling” Lucy Turnbull – ungrateful enough not to appreciate the land-grabbing greed of an extremely wealthy industry intent on covering every square metre of Australia with cheaply built crap for their own financial benefit.
Not only are Australians ungrateful, but Gottliebsen “can’t recall such a widespread, vigorous attack on any Australian industry.” Interest rate rises, lending rules, a glutted market, falling house prices, inefficient develop- ment approvals; all the evils of a free-market democratic society, out to destroy the poor property developer and create a crisis, and no one is intervening to help the industry out!
Even the “vandalism inflicted on the South Australian power supply” comes in for a hysterical serve. Where’s our gratitude to the Chinese developers who have created the boom in eyesore inner- city dwellings? Why aren’t the banks prepared to risk exposure and help them out? Why are state governments imposing taxes and charges on Chinese investors who “feel unwelcome”?
I recall Gottliebsen with some fondness from the early 1990s; I remember listening to his Business Review Weekly’s Business Essen- tials series on cassette. At the time, he had a cult following, and if he’d been imparting right-wing dribble, I certainly would not have bumped The Band’s Big Pink record for Gottliebsen’s economic wisdom.
Revisiting his work via The Australian, I feel nothing but disgust. The building industry represents all that is wrong with Australia: overt greed, destruction of habitat and heritage, cheap and nasty corner-cutting, not to forget corruption. Ask anyone who has bought an off-the-plan apartment that has been faced with legal loop holes, leaking shower recesses, and poor-quality fittings whether they think the building industry is dis- criminated against. Ask refugees and Indigenous Australians about feeling “unwelcome.” You need a reality check, Gottliebsen!