“Generation Selfish” have themselves to blame

Following some terribly misguided comments published recently by Malcolm Gunning (former President of the Real Estate Institute of NSW and Principal of Gunning Real Estate), I called for an interview and had hoped this might set a few things straight and even give his comments a chance at redemption.

Well, it sure did set the record straight and it's worse than I expected...

On July 25, 2016 there were a number of media outlets reporting on comments that Malcolm Gunning had made in relation to renters, labelling them "Generation Selfish" and said they have themselves to blame.

Let's not forget that this is the former President of the Real Estate Institute of NSW making these comments. Not just a small time real estate agency owner.

Mr. Gunning was quoted as saying that 'generation selfish' were missing out (on home ownership), as they were not prepared to make sacrifices.

"More and more we are seeing a victim mentality associated with the high cost of property, yet this 'generation selfish' sees wide screen TVs, designer clothes, international holidays and eating out as every day essentials. They simply won't do what is necessary to cut their lifestyle in order to save a deposit," he said.

Needless to say, this attitude is part of the problem. It's an attitude that demonstrates naivety and close-mindedness and is what is getting in the way of any real progress. It is this kind of arrogance that is putting more than half the population into forced renting and into having to accept they may very well rent for life.

As I read the articles, I thought to myself, "surely this isn't something that someone so well-regarded in the real estate industry would be silly enough to be quoted as saying!!". They also rely on tenants to fill their rentals and might like those renters to be property buyers or sellers someday too. Am I right?

Well, you be the judge. Here is what Mr. Gunning had to say during our interview.

Mr. Gunning confirmed that his findings recently published in media were based upon opinion and discussion with his employees within 'generation selfish' - described as someone who does not yet own their own home.

Mr. Gunning argued that, "25-year-olds in regional Australia are completely different in attitude to those who live in the city. We employ many of those people within that age bracket, so we have a fair indication and we often discuss and debate about priorities between my generation (I'm 66) and that generation."

Mr. Gunning says, "The hipster movement of living in the city and the purchasing of flat-screen TVs, fashion clothing, international holidays and eating out every day (instead of buying a house) is mostly driven by girls, as they are 'must haves' and that 'generation selfish' were only interested in buying new, not used".

Mr. Gunning also said that, "'Generation selfish' felt home buying was expected as a right, and not necessarily earned, and that 'generation selfish' had not been through any hardship that prior generations had," also quipping, "renting is just a life-style choice." Mr. Gunning suggested that, "If renters really wanted to buy, Wollongong is cheap and a good place to live and that renters don't want to catch public transport because they see it as a second-class transport."

I asked Mr. Gunning if his comments were representative of the opinion of all real estate agents, to which Mr. Gunning replied, "No, I think it is a perception shared by the baby boomer generation."

When quizzed if Mr. Gunning agreed that our Housing Affordability policy might help see an increase in newly constructed dwellings, he replied, "Yes I do, I think that will assist" and had also added, "Federal, state and council government are to blame, as they have their head in the trough too."

I guess we can agree on that one.

What can we do to end the stereotyping and discriminatory comments in the media?

Before media will agree to publish any information and opinion we produce, we are asked to back it with statistics and data. This is to ensure the information has integrity and basis.

I find it appalling that the media publish these sorts of comments, which are based upon no fact and research or contain any alternative perspective and comment. These sorts of stereotypes make issues in Anti Discrimination grow more and more ugly. It's wrong on so many levels, but it seems the real estate industry are the darlings of some media companies - no doubt because they pay a lot in advertising.

These comments also demonstrate why we must stand united, so that one day there can be real change. We cannot allow these kinds of comments to continue to weigh us down and ruin any prospect we have for our future.

Help put an end to this by showing as a united front. The media cannot ignore over half the population of Australia, if we speak as one!

Please read about our National Tenancy Body, Anti Discrimination and Housing Affordability campaigns. We need you to join the fight for tenant rights!

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