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If it weren’t for the fact that most of our leaders appear to be duel citizens on the verge of being expelled from the national parliament, it would have been a very depressing week.

Parliament provided the only lighter moment in seven days of relentlessly downbeat news.

According to Lucy Cormack in Fairfax Media, health expenses, electricity and groceries are the top three issues worrying more than half of all Australian consumers.

“Add to that; fuel, car insurance, mortgage or rent, gas, home insurance and water, and the nation is pretty much worried about everything”, she wrote.

She was reporting Choice’s latest quarterly Consumer Pulse Survey, which also found concerns about interest rates and superannuation consumed 56 per cent of Australians.

‘‘I think cost-of-living concerns for consumers across the board are very high and we are in an environment now where wages are very flat,’’ said Choice spokesman Tom Godfrey.

‘‘Yet things like electricity and medical expenses are really putting pressure on the family budget. Unfortunately it looks like this pattern is here to stay.’’


Over at the ABC, Four Corners maintained we now have the second highest housing debt in the world after Switzerland – almost twice that of the US.

The housing market is ripe for a crash that “could be as bad as Ireland or the US”, Digital Finance Analytics’ Martin North claimed during the program.

“I’ve been studying the market here for a good number of years and I have never seen this perfect storm of issues coming together,” he told Fairfax Media, referring to a combination of record high house prices and larger mortgages.

A rise of 1 per cent in interest rates could push mortgage stressed borrowers up from 800,000 households to nearly one million, he said.

The same program revealed your friendly local bank manager could be “managed out” of big institutions like Westpac if they didn’t meet targets to persuade you to take out loans.

And new data from the University of Sydney’s Urban Housing Lab suggested the home-sharing website Airbnb may be worsening housing affordability. About 28 per cent of Airbnb listings were entire properties, while 70 per cent were rooms and shared rooms.

‘‘This equates to around 6000 homes taken out of the permanent rental market and 17,000 Sydney households using their homes, rooms or beds for extra income,’’ said the university.


The Australian Financial Review quoted NAB predicting health insurance would rise five per cent every year for the next 20 years.


Ok, there was one ray of sunshine.  In what we feel may be an important sign of the times, a company called Unlocked is prepared to pay 1,000 flybuy points for simply watching advertisements on your phone.

If you sign up for their app, and are prepared to watch an ad every third time you unlock your phone for a month, the points are yours.

We feel this may be the start of a whole new profession.

Have a good weekend.