According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 5 per cent of
first-home buyers under 35 were single women in 1998, up from 3 per cent 10 years earlier.
Single men stayed at 4 per cent.
"It totally makes sense to me," says 34-year-old Deloitte
Touche Tohmatsu partner Ms Naomi Edwards. "Women are more conservative than men and
they have a strong urge to create a nice environment for themselves.
While couples remain the great proportion of buyers, property
researcher Mr Michael Matusik says the trend to single women is so strong they would now
represent 6 to 7 per cent of buyers - double the proportion of a decade ago.
"Women are delaying marriage and having children, and focusing
on careers," Mr Matusik said. "With divorce rates also rising there are large
numbers of females starting over. Together these women are becoming a powerful buying
In the real estate industry, 54 per cent of employees are now women,
an ABS survey shows. While men still dominate sales jobs three-to-one, they are heavily
outnumbered as property managers and office staff.
A story published today by the Sydney Morning
Herald reports that the federal government in Australia has proposed a bill that would
allow state governments to deny "de facto couples" access to fertility
treatments until they have lived together for at least five years, despite its commitment
on Friday to allow discrimination only against single women.
The spokeswoman for the Attorney-General, Mr. Williams, said
yesterday that amendments to the Sex Discrimination Act would ensure that West Australian
and South Australian legislation requiring a five-year live-in relationship for de factos
as a condition of accessing fertility treatments could no longer be overturned as
West Australian and South Australian laws allow married women access
to fertility treatments no matter how long they have been married, and do not require them
to prove they have ever lived together or intend to do so.
Under the Sex Discrimination Act, couples who live on "a bona
fide domestic basis" but are unmarried are protected from marital status
discrimination, and legal experts believe that the West Australian and South Australian
laws would be struck out under the act if challenged in the courts.
Senior lecturer in law at the University of Melbourne, Ms Chris
Walker, said that "the WA and SA laws clearly discriminate against unmarried couples,
and are therefore invalid because they conflict with the SDA".
The new amendment is is being drafted after the Government on Friday
backed away from its plan to allow the States to discriminate at will on the grounds of
marital status, which would have allowed the States to restrict fertility treatments to
married women only.
The shadow attorney-general, Mr. Robert McClelland, said Mr.
Williams's latest admission proved that "the Government is discriminating against de
facto couples, pure and simple".
"A five-year rule could be time critical in terms of the
mother's age," he said.
On Friday, Mr. Howard strongly denied that he intended to allow
discrimination against de facto couples, saying, "it is not the desire of the
Government to to say that these procedures should be unavailable to people living in a de
But it has since emerged that the reason for the original blanket
exemption from the act's ban on marital status discrimination for fertility treatments was
to validate West Australian and South Australian discrimination against de factos.
This flies in the face of Mr. Howard's stated intention - to ensure
that an IVF child had the right to a mother and father, and will also allow other States
to impose a five-year condition on de factos.
Asked if the South Australian and West Australian laws were invalid
under present law, Mr. Williams's spokeswoman said that the new amendments "will
ensure that the WA, SA and Victorian legislation continue to operate".
This could be done by allowing discrimination against de factos who
had lived together for five years or less, or by allowing the States to define "de
facto relationship" in any way they wanted, allowing even more onerous requirements.
The amendments are yet to be finalized, but could be presented to
the Coalition party room next week. They are expected to attract criticism from several
female Liberal MPs who were angered at Mr. Williams's first plan to amend the Sex