Drop the word “bloodbath” into your media release and you can pretty much guarantee headlines across the land. But is it true? Is a 27 per cent step-down from the biggest building boom in Sydney’s boom-bust history really a bloodbath? Or is it a long-needed correction, an opportunity to take stock and rethink?
Admittedly, from the Busselton Mail to the Boorowa News, most of the papers that ran this week’s "Builders warn of looming housing bloodbath" headline hail from a single stable with a discernible agenda. But their shared premise, which governments routinely support, makes the construction industry some beneficent overlord whose current jitters constitute such imminent danger to us all as to justify billions of dollars in public up-prop.
But why? The Australian construction industry is surely among the most ruthless, arrogant and self-concerned industries anywhere this side of the law (a line it has been known to straddle). Public benefit? Pah. Developers have to be dragged to it kicking and screaming and, usually, they’re not, which is why our public realm has all the delight and variety of a prison exercise yard. Yet at first sight of their own blood these same schoolyard bullies drop into self-pity, demanding a head pat from nanny and a kiss better. Billions, please, boo hoo.