If you’ve spent any time on this blog, you’ll be well familiar with my attitude towards this bloody Boom and the ways it has changed Perth.
While the mainstream media was blasting headlines at us week in, week out, about the explosion in real estate prices and hyping up Perth as the new glamour capital of Australia, some of us were recoiling in despair.
One of my primary motivations for beginning The Boomtown Rap was to vent at the changes and distortions I perceived the Boom was wreaking in my home city: infrastructure groaning under the strain of a sudden, massive influx of national and international migrants seeking a piece of the Boom action, rocketing house prices pushing the dream of home ownership out of reach of average income earners, then rents following suit as demand outstripped supply.
Then there’s the mass yuppification that’s filleted the already shrivelled soul out of the place (and worse, turned previously affordable holiday retreats down south into the exclusive provinces of the well-heeled). A plethora of cashed-up wankers in shiny new 4WDs. Full car parks at the best metro beaches from 9.30 on ripe summer mornings. Buses at peak hours leaving commuters stranded as they whoosh pass full to capacity. A vacuum of unskilled and semi-skilled labour as the young – understandably – flood north, spurning the traditional tertiary education route through to qualifications that were once a ticket to employment security and good income.
And why wouldn’t they, when the mining companies stoking China’s rabid iron ore smelters are handing out big bucks to virtually anyone in the right age bracket willing to fly in/fly out and skill ’emselves up in company-paid courses of mere weeks in duration?
My sense has long been that the Boom was bestowing rewards on its beneficiaries far out of proportion to their worth, while the rest of us, whose incomes remained unchanged while living costs soared, went backwards. Result? A growing underclass that makes a mockery of our cherished myths of egalitarianism and a fair go. Not to mention the disintegration of the Australian Dream of home ownership for far too many of us. The chasm between haves and have-nots has widened too far to bridge. The Boom has handed us a city divided as never before, with future implications that are national and potentially dire.
I note that the mainstream media is finally starting to acknowledge the dangers and negative fallout from the Boom that the few party-poopers like me have been harping on about for many months. What can ya say but DUH!
But there’s no place for arrogance here. I’d rather be proven wrong in my predictions of a bad moon rising over Boomtown’s tomorrow.
Actually, I’ve been criticised for my unrelenting bleakness. A couple of particularly stupid and hateful types have labelled me stupid and hateful, and indeed, I may call half-empty where sunnier souls cry half-full…so let me make amends this instant.
In the interests of balance, I present for you a positive perspective on the Boom. No, not mine (gimme a break!). I refer to the podcast below, which features my recent interview of an employee of one of the mining companies, to whom I shall refer by his Christian name, Hilton.
Hilton is one of those boomers (boom boomer, not baby boomer) who is doing very nicely. In his thirties, he is drawing a triple figure income as a senior employee with one of the big mining companies – and without sweating a drop in the dusty open cut treasure troves of the big bad north. Hilton works in the air-conditioned comfort of an office block in St George’s Terrace.
A seafront abode in the northern corridor, lawyer wife and two “lovely kids”, investment properties and a sizeable share portfolio, a holiday home in Yallingup, a wine collection in a temperature-regulated cellar – this bloke’s struck gold without so much as picking up a shovel. Yet, as you’ll hear, he claims his lux life is not without its trials.
I must acknowledge Hilton’s generosity in agreeing to this interview. Highly valued as his time is, after initially attempting to negotiate a fee, he agreed to give this insight into his boomer world gratis once he accepted my tragically authentic assurance that I was a busted arse battler and not being paid for my blogging.
Further, when the interview was cut short due to an urgent work call to duty, Hilton granted me additional time later in the week to complete the interview, providing I paid for coffees.
The content of the interviews will appear as a series of podcasts, each focusing on different aspects of life at the top of the financial tree (well, not the top…but Hilton is a damned sight further into the sky than those like me staring up that alien trunk in bemusement, rooted in terra firma – and I mean rooted).
So, here we go with Podcast 1, in which Hilton discusses his job and the level of commitment that his triple-figure income demands – as you will discover, he is not nicknamed ‘The Whirrer’ for nothing. The last stage of the podcast is noteworthy for his surprising comments on new suburban architecture and its fit with Perth’s harsh summer environment. Prepare to have your expectations confounded.
- Hilton Interview Part 1: Job and Home (duration 10 minutes)
(Intro music from song When Surfin’ Was #1 © Ross Buncle 1993;
All rights reserved)