The most thought-provoking contribution I’ve heard so far in this utterly dumbed-down election campaign is from barrister Gray Connolly, saying the big issue we should be debating is housing and intergenerational wealth.
Connolly was speaking as a self-proclaimed Red Tory, on ABC Radio National’s Religion and Ethics Report. Red Tories, he says, are people on the political Right who have a more traditional view of what we’re trying to achieve. They are true conservatives, trying to conserve the institutions and practices that have given us the way of life we value.
Red Tories believe in communitarianism – much more about “we” than “me”. They highlight the virtues of home and family. They emphasise the boring virtues, like duty, perseverance and loyalty, not just people’s rights.
That so few Australians under 40 have any form of home ownership or wealth of any kind is a ticking timebomb socially, Connolly says. It’s this that could split the country demographically.
“I cannot believe how little work either side of politics has done on the housing issue. It’s an absolute disgrace that the Coalition, on the Right of politics, for whom home ownership is usually something very important, has done so little to promote home ownership among young people.
“You cannot have a stable country where so many people do not have security in their homes, do not have security in their work, don’t feel they’re getting ahead, and do not feel they have a stake in society that causes them to want to preserve it.
“I cannot believe that so many people on the Right of politics do not get this,” he says.
How do the economic policies of recent decades adversely affect traditional conservative values?
“For the better part of 20 years, nothing has been done other than pour fuel on the housing-price fire,” he says. This has continued even to the point of not looking after renters, not looking after people with insecure work.