Real Estate 4 Ransom
Considering the intensity of interest in real estate in this country — not to mention the amount of money that gets spent on it — we should be exposed to a steady stream of relevant, informative and investigative TV shows and docos about the way the industry operates.
Think about how much airtime is devoted to dissecting the financial markets or commodities trade.
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So along comes CLICK ME Real Estate 4 Ransom, the first home-grown doco about the property market in, well, too long to remember.
Made by Prosper Australia — the tax reform group that called the ‘‘buyers strike’’ earlier this year — Real Estate 4 Ransom is the culmination of about five years worth of research, filming and post-production.
But unless you’re in some way aligned with the group it’s a safe bet you’ve not only never seen the doco but don’t even know it exists. To date, there’s only been one public screening.
And that’s a shame.
There’s a lot to commend about the doco, not least that it was made at all. (On what can only be imagined was a shoe-string budget as well, although it doesn’t look that way).
Here’s the blurb on the press release:
‘‘Real Estate 4 Ransom is...about global property speculation and its impact on the economy. (It) considers changing motivations behind property investment and challenges the notion that the Global Financial Crisis was caused by bank lending.’’
‘‘The film investigates the inefficiencies of economic systems and their impact on potential home owners and small businesses. Real Estate 4 Ransom argues that with a simpler tax system, entrepreneurs have a better chance to succeed and the average Australian has a better chance of owning their own home.’’
Four times I’ve watched my media copy and I still can't decide whether to like it, hate it, agree or disagree with it...but I keep on watching it.
Real Estate 4 Ransom isn’t a documentary in the David Attenborough sense of the word, but nor is it a Michael Moore sarcasm-and-stunts polemic.
There’s no mistaking that it argues from a specific perspective — that we’re in a property bubble — or that its makers at Prosper have a very specific remedy in mind for the problem — a land tax.
But it does deliver them in a persuasive and (mostly) balanced way, which is exactly what Prosper’s caustic and schadenfreude-laden ‘‘buyers strike’’ campaign so badly failed to do before.
It’s central point that the current property system allows investors and speculators to profit from low land taxes and negative gearing, while simultaneously reaping capital gains growth through infrastructure upgrades paid for by taxpayers, is arguably spot on. It’s also hard to argue the point that so much of the boom economy is based on perceptions of scarcity rather than reality.
Where the doco falls down is its use of hyperbolic analogies to make points, a tiresome and off-putting tactic that has become so much the standard arsenal in arguments delivered from the left and/or right these days.
‘‘The fight against slavery was based on justice. Today, instead of whips and chains we have high rents and low wages,’’ the narrator tells us, flashing up a graphic of aboriginals chained together with neck collars.
Come on, really?
A few economists (and derivative traders) might also be surprised to learn that ‘‘bad tax laws were the catalyst for the global financial crisis’’.
Still, regardless of whether you’re sceptical about the ideas or motives of the group, anyone who is interested in property really should take the time to have a look at this doco.
And there will be more chances, with these screening dates just announced:
- Sydney – Tuesday Sept 27th, 7pm, Chauvel Cinema, Q & A with Co-Director Karl Fitzgerald
- Hobart – Wednesday Sept 28th, 6pm, State Cinema, Q & A with David Collyer
- Melbourne – Sunday Oct 9th, 3.30pm, ACMI Cinemas