Which generation has it worst revealed

Queues at a rental property highlight the cost of living stresses facing 30-year-olds. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Flavio Brancaleone

A viral video has ignited a fierce debate about which generation is facing the greatest hardships – but not everyone agrees with the answer.

Media personality and businessman Russel Howcroft spoke on the divisive issue while appearing as a guest panellist on the ABC’s Gruen Transfer program.

“It’s the hardest it’s ever been for a 30-year-old in Australia’s history,” he said.

“It’s true that 30-year-olds are going to be less well off than their parents are. It’s a fact.”

At that age, the 58-year-old radio host revealed he paid three times his salary to buy a house.

Now, 30-year-olds would expect to pay more than eight times their salary to get a foot in the door of the increasingly expensive housing market.

When Mr Howcroft was 30 in 1995, the national median house price was $129,800 – or 3.8 times the average full time salary.

Last year, the national median house price hit a new high of $1,005,242, which equates to more than 15.4 times the median full time salary.

Mr Howcroft also noted HECS indexation has doubled over the last 15 years.

He is a member of the GenX generation who were lucky enough to grow up during a time when Australia had abolished tertiary education fees.

The privileged period ended in 1989 when the government began gradually reintroducing fees and established the HECS scheme.

Young people now can expect to pay six figures for degrees in professions like medicine and law, while their HECS debts increase annually.

Finally, Mr Howcroft reminded viewers that 30-year-olds are paying higher taxes than their predecessors.

Russel Howcroft has weighed in on the fiery debate on intergenerational inequality.
Russel Howcroft has weighed in on the fiery debate on intergenerational inequality.

“It’s true that a baby boomer paid half the tax that a 30-year-old pays now when they were 30 years of age,” he said.

“The reality is, it is extremely difficult to be a 30-year-old in Australia right now.”

The video has sparked a heated debate about generational inequality, and attracted more than 60,000 likes at the time of writing.

“The Boomers climbed the ladder, but kicked it away as soon as they reached the top,” one TikTok user commented.

Another pointed to the crippling effect of repeated interest rate rises amid a cost of living crisis.

“Once you get your house, it’s not smooth sailing,” the commenter wrote.

“We are struggling to keep our homes, which NEVER happened to older people.”

A third said they had crunched the numbers on their HECS debt and discovered they had put $8,000 towards their loan but it had only lessened by $423.

Several commenters pointed to the detrimental effect of rising costs on both older and younger generations.

Recent data compiled by political research organisation RedBridge Group shows more than half of 18 to 24 year old Australians are delaying starting a family because of rising costs.

“We can’t even afford to keep our parents looked after when they retire, let alone ourselves or our children,” one social media user wrote.

“If it’s hard for 30 year olds now, imagine what it’s like and is GOING to be like for Gen Z and Alpha,” another agreed.

However, other social media users argued Millennials weren’t worse off than those who have come before.

“Every generation faces new challenges. This generation is no different (than) any other generation,” one said.

The fierce debate comes after the Reserve Bank of Australia decided to keep interest rates steady at 4.35 per cent but left the door open for the possibility of another rise later in the year.