What does the 20 December 2020 Chat with HT mean for Australia?

CAAN has selected and highlighted some of Harry’s comments from this interview … it might be a good idea to reflect on how this influence has impacted our lives … where we live … and particularly the living standards and losses for our families …

HT said:

‘Years ago we were very scared of having shops under the apartments because there was no demand for shops, but now shops are in high demand. …’

CAAN:  Why is this so?  Who created this demand for shops included in apartment developments?

Until the Pandemic in 2020 up to 100% residential apartments (including those of HT) were sold to overseas buyers … particularly from China …

Meanwhile we have shops closing down in the Westfield and other like shopping centres … why?

These mixed-use high-rise residential apartment precincts can only be described as a blight on what were Sydney’s beautiful bushland landscapes … think of North Ryde … Epping … Wahroonga … Macquarie Park …

Q:  ‘ Reflecting on Job Keeper and Home Builder, the two government grants, do you think they should have been extended to apartment developers rather than just land developers?

A. ‘Definitely yeah they should be, but they helped us a bit; not enough.  The big problem is that the stamp duty is paid on the whole unit with the land, but the stamp duty is paid only on the land for the cottage. 

And our (Meriton) particular problem is that we depend a lot upon overseas people

.we need migrants

.migrants coming to the city

.students coming to the city

.these are the two that don’t arrive so that’s why our section of the market has suffered more.’

CAAN:  There you have it from Harry, a recipient of an Order of Australia.  Other recipients may have given meritorious service to this Nation, but it would seem here it is a case of personal ‘achievement’ … even self-interest $Billions perhaps?

A developer of highrise precincts constructed specifically for the foreign buyer market … and hence high immigration

Q.  ‘Since the start of the Pandemic you made a point of ensuring that you were a visible presence here in the Meriton Head Office and your staff were coming in as well.

How important do you think that was that you were here and that your staff were here rather than working from home?’

A. ‘Working from home is nonsense, and I am very disappointed that it has been done. I don’t think Australians were ever too keen on working.*  

I don’t mean it as an insult. 

I mean that’s the way they are, and once you show them that they can work from home you mix them up, and I hope that they will come back to work, and they will work as well as before, but we will see.’

CAAN:  Is this how Harry and his ilk spin the myth that Australians are not good workers?  Perhaps a useful tool to seek out Visa workers and pay them below Award wages with the lure of ‘Permanent Residency’?   To buy his apartments, as Gerry’s fridges and washing machines fly off the floor perhaps?

In fact there have been reports that productivity rose with people working from home. 

Q.  You mentioned immigration and tourism earlier.  How important is it that the Government open up the borders sooner rather than later, the international borders, do you think?

A.  ‘I like that everybody else I think is to have normal situation.  A normal situation in this country with migrants has been from the first day.  We are all migrants … now. 

When we stop it then it causes changes then we have to adjust so really the sooner we can have the migrants back, and the sooner we can have the students back the better.

But I’m not running the country.  They know what they’re doing.

My opinion on this is no stronger than anyone else I just say what I feel.’

CAAN:  Harry has already stated that with the borders being closed due to the Pandemic that the residential apartment market has suffered.  And that his market has suffered due to the migrants and students not coming.

It would appear that his opinions have held more sway with Governments than the constituents objecting for years now to high immigration because where they live has been destroyed by overdevelopment particularly with high rise precincts, and concurrently with the increased foreign competition for Australian housing, prices escalated locking Australian First Home Buyers out!

And the alleged ‘progress’ has meant the loss of many of our low-rise villages, heritage, bushland, thousands of trees chopped for the tentacles of toll roads and toxic tunnels and stacks, with schools, trains and buses all full-up!  The loss of playgrounds for demountable classrooms … FFS!

Q.  What effect do low interest rates having on the property market, and how are you finding sales and leasing activities across your portfolio?

A.   ‘Huge, huge effect because the problem was our main buyers were Chinese*, and they are now non-existent.  So I was very worried actually, but what happened was the low rates of interest came in and the Government was helping people besides that, and that overcame the problem of the Chinese.*

So we are very happy about that.  But we still didn’t overcome the problem of the investors.  We have to help them too if we want investors.’

CAAN:  Was the Morrison Government in 2020 now beginning to fulfill its role of enabling Australian citizens to buy a home? … Wow!  Rather than maintaining visa manipulation with foreigners buying our real estate and gaining permanent residency …

-however the real estate gatekeepers remain exempt from Anti-Money Laundering Laws

-it appears that the onshore ‘Proxy’ is still in attendance at house auctions …

Q.  What are your thoughts on the Build-to-Rent sector?

A.  ‘I think that the intention is very good, but it doesn’t seem to work out.  If I build I must keep it for 15 years, or I can find somebody who will buy the whole development, and then if I want to sell it after 15 years they have to approve my plans so I don’t think that they would like it.

If they want to do it I say we should only keep it say for five years, and we don’t have to get any approvals afterwards.  They have to approve it before I build quickly and that’s I think then it will work

But the main thing is not how they legislate, the main problem is that the rents have not gone up, and so the investor is not as keen to buy as he would have been if the rents were going up.’

CAAN:  Our understanding is that ‘Build-to-Rent’ is going ahead.  From the perspective of our youth seeking housing we hope that the rents will continue to be more affordable allowing the tenant to save a deposit for a home down the track. 

Perhaps it is time the investor sector looked at the lowest wages growth for 60 years in Australia?

Then rent increases if proportional could be justified?

Currently the rental market in Australia is largely owned by those like Meriton and family landlords with tenants having little or no security of tenure.  It would seem that with such landlords that is the way they like it …

Q.  Now you were born in China.  How do you evaluate the Australia/China relationship at the moment?

A.  ‘We must remember one thing that Chinese people love Australia.  They love Australia probably more than we do.  Very important to know that.  Not the government – I’m not talking about them.  They play politics that’s a different story.

I don’t know if they love or hate, that’s just politics ….

Don’t worry about it but the people love it because they went to a lot of trouble to buy apartments here, and they did it even when there was no profit they just want to have some property, something here so that’s why I know that they believe in this country.  In my opinion that’s the main thing the rest is detail.’

CAAN:  Why wouldn’t the Chinese love Australia?  With so many special benefits dating back to the Howard Years! 

‘Middle Class’ Chinese were lured by the prospect of investing in Australian homes and/or education to gain ‘Flexible Citizenship’

Then in the early 2000s there was a Housing Boom in Australia …

By the time of the 2007 Election the Howard Government had doubled the permanent migrant intake … 

Migration Agents, visa manipulation, and highrise precincts too have become a growth industry

This high immigration largely from China in fact facilitated, it would appear, the spread of the CCP

onshore … with high-rise precincts Sydney-wide on all major transport routes, and into our regions … they even own some of our regional airports and pilot schools!

Q.  What would you say  is the biggest challenge facing the Meriton business today?

A.  ‘The biggest challenge is the changes now I always like apartments so why I like apartments against cottages because apartments lend themselves to leasing, cottages don’t lend.  You have a cottage and the upkeep is great, and the people are by themselves and they don’t know what to do, and all that.

Generally, I like housing because the Government cannot allow housing to collapse.  So I have a very good partner, the Government, can’t get a better partner than that, and then I have a second partner, the Banks.  The Banks can’t allow property, the residential property to drop so with these two partners I can face the World.’

The Interview – Harry Triguboff AO

Posted by Development Ready on Dec 20, 2020



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