The PM has launched a bold new strategyat ASIO headquarters aimed at combatting rising house prices by identifying some areas of Western Sydney and Melbourne as“terrorism recruitment zones”.
“Properties in these areas are hot, hot, hot,” Tony Abbott said, pointing to key destinations of Middle-Eastern migrants such as Lakemba, Lidcombe, Punchbowl, Cragieburn, and Camberfield.
The government has shrugged off criticism from the Labor opposition that they have politicised ASIO, and that spruiking these areas was likely to contribute further to the housing bubble in Australia’s two largest cities.
“The suggestion that I was putting Australian property investors at risk by showing these maps is just ludicrous,” the Prime Minister said, “and if Bill Shorten has a better idea for tackling housing affordability, then I’d like to hear it!”
There are suggestions from some members of the shadow cabinet, however, that Shorten has been cursing the political genius of combining anxieties about housing affordability and terrorism. “He’s worried that this concoction may prove to be explosive at the ballot box,” one source has said.
While the ASIO director-general has confirmed that maps shown at the media conference were not subject to national security classification, the Real Estate Institute of Australia (REIA) has expressed concern about the move, suggesting that there was plenty of room for growth of property prices before letting this information out of the bag.
“Lidcombe is just a sweet 18 kilometres from the city centre, and these houses must go, go, go,” the secretary of REIA exclaimed, before correcting himself “no, there’s really nothing of significance to see here.”
The media event controversially excluded Treasurer Joe Hockey, whose recent comments about the Sydney housing market have drawn criticism.
When pushed on the topic, the treasurer, and former member of REIA, pointed out that even those on modest incomes can afford to live in these areas. “A week’s rent costs more or less the same as one night’s accommodation for a front-bench Canberra politician,” he said.