Homing in on asylum seekers

The Bug’s financial and investment adviser considers a seemingly intractable problem or two.

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Dear Morrie

My boyfriend and I have been working two jobs each and saving as hard as we can to build a deposit to buy our own home. But we never seem to get ahead, and prices are still way out of our reach despite stories about values falling. Just what is the answer? I hope you can help.

Would-Be Home Owner

Dear Would-Be Home Owner

I know the problem you face and I reckon I have a solution.

You see, for most of the years I’ve been running my various business and investment ventures I’ve always looked for opportunities to use one problem to solve another for my potential customers.

This has helped me on many occasions to overcome what the eggheads in textbooks on consumer behaviour call “buyer resistance”.

It goes way back to the early 1960s when I was trudging door to door trying to sell aluminium siding to householders (main picture above).

I’ve gotta tell you I almost gave the game away because I could never seal the deal.

Sure, the aluminium siding might have cost six times the price of repainting over the life of the house and its owner, but it did save you getting up a ladder balancing a can of Berger or Dulux and baking in the hot sun while you undercoated and then gave two top coats to the weatherboards.

Yet not many were buying that argument, despite it being the days before the widespread availability of acrylic paints. Even the thought of having to get turps and a rag out to scrub thick, oil-based enamel off yourself from forehead to freckle didn’t change people’s minds.

I didn’t know what to do to change that. Then an idea dropped in my lap, or letterbox to be precise. I arrived home one day to find a letter to me in an envelope marked OHMS. It was an invoice from the PMG for my TV and radio licence.

Young kiddies today may never have heard of it and may think it’s just a tale I’m telling, but back then those of us who could afford a TV set and a radio or two had to pay a licence fee to the Post Master General’s Department  — the old agency that consisted of what is now Australia Post and what used to be the publicly owned Telstra which in turn before that was called Telecom.

The money from the licence fees went to support the national broadcaster, the ABC. Now, don’t get me wrong. The old Morrie is not a palestinian, and I’ve always enjoyed the odd arty farty show on the ABC. It’s just not always my cup of tea, that’s all.

But the key point is that those who tried to avoid paying the licence fee were caught by narks in PMG vans that roamed the streets with special aerials that could detect a radio or TV switched on inside a house. They then checked a list to see if the householder had paid up, and if they hadn’t, they’d pounce and issue a hefty fine.

When I was staring at the payment request for my TV and radio reception licence, an idea struck me.

From the very next day, and right up until the Commission of Inquiry, my sales of aluminium siding started to go through the roof.

I began telling home owners that the aluminium siding deflected the rays from the sneaky PMG detector van and they could save paying a licence fee as well as saving the cost of painting.

Well, they couldn’t wait to open their cheque books and stampeded towards me like a Catholic priest at a primary school.

A few years later I upped the ante and started telling would-be customers that when colour TV eventually arrived it would come with much more powerful airwaves, but luckily the aluminium siding would protect anyone inside the house from exposure. That idea alone was worth squillions to me.

It was this experience that ran through my mind when reading the paper the other day about the problems supposedly being caused by those asylum seekers the PM is always banging on about.

Now your old mate Morrie isn’t exactly a radical when it comes to politics, but I am  a realist and don’t see an asylum seeker as a problem but as a potential customer. The more the merrier, I say.

But I know that most Aussies don’t exactly welcome foreign types moving in next door to them, despite what the bleeding heart lefties might say. There’s a real fear among home owners that anyone who’s a bit different who moves into their street might just cause property values to drop.

So, Would-Be Home Owner, why shouldn’t we use this fact to help people like you get a home of your own?

I have a plan to thumb my nose at the big political parties who now both never want any asylum seeker to set foot permanently on Australian soil.

Well, I reckon they should all come here instead of being cooped up in detention centres offshore.

Sure, initially we’ll need to take a softly, softly approach so we don’t scare the dutton out of everyone.

So I propose to run a nationwide campaign to convince the major parties to allow asylum seekers in to Australia but keep them detained for a while, then let them out into the community and let them weave their magic on house prices.

Now time is tight. We have only a matter of weeks to try to run this campaign if we are to influence the next government and it’s going to cost a motza, what with all the promotion and advertising that’ll be needed.

So if you want to help — think of it as an investment in your future home — send me a few Ks at a bare minimum.

Post me a cheque made out to Corral Asylum Seekers Here and I’ll soon get things moving at my end.

Bugger it, to save your time and mine, just make it out to CASH.

I’ll be in touch.


Morrie Bezzle is chair of On Water Operations Maritime Surgical Services Pty Ltd, CEO of Nah Roo Indigenous Vegetarian Foods Pty Ltd, and director of Manners Island Etiquette Training Resort.


Disclaimer: The Bug accepts no responsibility for the advice or comments contained in Mr Bezzle’s column.