“No one wants to move to Australia” : Tech Giant

In his victory speech, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the Australia of the future has to be a nation that is agile, innovative and creative.

But founder of Australia’s largest tech company, Mike Cannon-Brookes, claims Australia is too expensive.

Mike Cannon-Brookes, a founder of Nasdaq listed software company Atlassian, headquartered in Sydney, is having trouble attracting good staff to its Sydney offices. Australia’s high cost of housing, transport and education was a significant obstacle in attracting software engineers and senior developers.

Cannon-Brookes explained to the Australian Financial Review Business Summit, “We’re trying to pull the best talent out of [Silicon] Valley. A lot of those guys and girls have four other options down the street, so how am I going to convince them to move to Sydney?”

Junior staff were easier to attract as they were young, single and adventurous. But for senior staff, Sydney was too expensive to establish a family and settle down.

“So, whatever we can do to change that cost of living would make a big difference,” claimed Cannon-Brookes.

Sydney house prices have surged 50 per cent in just three years, sending Australia’s total real estate assets to GDP upwards to 3.8 times. This is higher than experienced at the peak of the Ireland and Japan housing bubbles. Australia now have the highest level of household debt to household disposable income in the world.

Australia is expected to lose more jobs and opportunities as it prices itself out of the global market.

» ‘Nobody wants to move to Australia’: Tech billionaire founder of Atlassian says he can’t attract foreign talent because housing, transport and education are all too expensive – Daily Mail, 16th March 2016.


  1. Exactly , where is the insentive for professionally qualified people , experienced and qualified up to the hilt . They are not going go there when there is other places they can go to cheaper and actually earn more money .

  2. Yep that’s why people are leaving for overseas. Remember the brain drain? Whilst these clowns are concentrating on propping up the price of an unproductive asset and bringing our dollar down to help with exports that only goes into the pockets of fat-cats who don’t pay tax we’re squandering our future on short-term greed.

    Buzz words ain’t gonna do it Turnball. Our government is like a bad reality TV show.

  3. Looking at the for lease signs out the front of just about every unit block on Sydney’s Northern beaches my brain finally worked out its not a renters game of musical chairs seeking cheaper rents…they are simply leaving.

  4. Hang on here, they seamlessly interchange Sydney and Australia but the fact is Atlassian themselves don’t want to open an office outside of Sydney. The statement that houses in Australia are too expensive is simply not true when you look at other cities like Brisbane.

    So on one hand they have a strong desire to live in Australias most popular city and run an office in a CBD, at the same time they are critisising the prices that are at least in part contributed by their own attitude, which is incredible and popular demand to live in Sydney.

  5. Pass me the Kleenex, my heart bleeds for these multinationals who pay little or no taxes here.(Easy to do in IT) then use the NBN and other infrastructure provided by the taxpayer to generate enormous profits. The article is about blackmailing the Government into giving their specialised workers tax breaks. Anyway why do they have to be in Sydney? Why not Adelaide where there will be lots of cheap commercial space when the heavily subsidised car industry leaves.

  6. Australia has become a giant rip off….

    sure you can live frugally by choice but its time homes went back to being simply expensive instead of unaffordable.


  7. Speaking to a guy last night, he’d bought a 3 br house a 40 minute train ride out of Sydney for 1.2 million. No backyard, gutters almost touching the neighbour’s. He admits it was a mistake, but did it anyway.


  8. Just try to recall what GM said when announced they will be closing Holden’s production in Australia stating the cost as main reason “Costs at Australian plants were up about 60% over the past decade, Mike Devereux, Holden managing director, told a media conference in Adelaide on 8 April 2013”.

    On personal note though, I don’t think a senior software engineer would feel very comfortable at Atlassian anyway. Here is a hint, if Scott Farquhar, (co- founder) considers himself (age 35) a dinosaur in his own game what do you call a senior engineer then?
    Check this video

  9. I understand that Atlassian have R&D sites at Sydney, and in San Francisco, California and Austin, Texas.

    Surely, with their collaboration software, you could start shifting R&D from Sydney to San Francisco and Austin. They could transition over a year or two, rather than having to uproot overnight.

    I think expecting the government to do something is wishful thinking. They need to take action and make decisions in the best interest of the company.

  10. Looks like comment 4 by Duncan is the only comment on the money. Its a bit rich of Atlassian to claim no one wants to move here when plenty of people are doing just that.

    The fact that Atlassian cant get anyone really means they are tightwads not offering enough, which is pretty common in the Australian IT sector. Furthermore if they want good developers there are plenty here waiting to be poached for the right money. Again, Atlassian are too tight. Its run by Gen Yers, and that generation generally dont understand the value of a dollar.

    This article isnt about the housing market, its about a company clueless about recruiting.

  11. True, not many want to move here from western europe and north america. Who wants to spend 70 years of total income to buy a 2 bed unit in Sydney suburbia. This has been a fact for nearly two decades. As for the CCP influence it’s a totally different situation. In the suburb I live, Lane Cove, the established real estate agents are closing down. At this same time, 6 or 7 new agencies have been opened selling only new apartments. If you can”t see this you need to open your eyes and look around. All will be revealed.

  12. In 1974 one could by a 2 bed unit in Randwick for $18,000.In those days the average wage was around $300 per week. Unemployment benefits were close to $100 per week. That means, with total savings(if the other partner was working) from the dole, that unit could be bought in 5 years including interest. Very sad how this country has changed.We are living on a prison island where the experiment of debt slavery has been completely institutionalised. Unless one is very wealthy , it is insane to come and live here. It’s a private club and we the 99% are not in it. Like I’ve said before great country even better people.But FIRE has screwed us. When our children realise that they are homeless in a land their grandparents pioneered it will be to late. It is to late.

  13. The best investment you could own in Australia is not Real Estate,it’s a second passport.

  14. As Australians we’ve shot ourselves in the foot (well not most of the readers of this blog) by taking on debt to the point of being two pays away from bankruptcy, borrowing for holidays and living on the smell of an oily rag. Our millionaires look like vagabonds in their cheap shorts and sandals, wearing shirts for three days in a row and having an empty fridge whilst spruiking how great their frugal lifestyle is. The knowing smile of oneupmanship when you mention you didn’t buy into debt, you sleep peacefully at night etc is just annoying and ignorant.

    I once had the neighbours’ kids around and one asked why we didn’t have a bigger TV (it’s a large flat screen not small but not cinema size either) and the other kid said “That’s because they can’t afford a bigger one as their renting.” WTF? So that’s what the parents tell themselves and their kids. Ignoring the Persian rugs, Christopher Guy vases, bespoke couches at $4000 each, $5000 chest of draws by Theodore Alexander etc etc this is what our Ikea-ridden neighbours say about us because we “rent”. And therein lies the problem: Oneupmanship and tying ones ego to property. We like interiors and haven’t bought a house to put them in because “houses are a ponzi scheme rip-off” at the moment.

    We chose a life over a ball and chain and this is the kind of BS that all renters have to put up with, being treated as second class citizens by what are essentially our gullible lower-class millionaires. The Audacity just drives me nuts.

  15. @14

    Thanks to my new upstairs neighbours that paid $913,000 for a 3br unit in Sydney, I’ve had to deal with the harassment and attempted intimidation of them having me banned from smoking on my own balcony. Together with their committee mates they have broken numerous laws trying to enforce it. Upstairs will also beat on my door complaining about music noise at midday on a Monday. Saying she’s trying to work? F-me! So my home is not, it’s your uninsured workplace?

    Why? Cause I’m the riff-raff renter, having being here for 12 years stands for nothing. My only saving grace is its a family owned property. So when I become a second-class citizen in a classless society due to a cashed up South African using their corporate bully tactics all I can say is I’m over this place. Its investment over people without no doubt.

  16. Mike Cannon-Brookes you are a cheap skate, just pay more…

  17. Comment 12, unemployment benefits in 1974 for a single person were less than $35, not $100.

    Comment 16, you have a choice not to be a riff raff renter. Respect other peoples right to to not breath smoke in their home, and have peace and quiet. Unit living is more restrictive than a house. Neighbours are sharing walls.

  18. It’s disgusting, the cost of housing here. If anyone is to blame, you can blame our politicians and this country’s policies on negative gearing, capital gains tax, stamp duties and allowing foreigners from china, india, taiwan and singapore to come over here and pay utter ridiculous prices for houses. this just fuels the greed of agents and artifically inflates the prices of all other properties because everyone expects to sell their house and make 300k to 500k above the reserve price.
    this then creates artificial value that is more than 10 times the average income of the Australian household. the banks are also into this greedy boat of housing scams, allowing millions of investors in the last 10 years to borrow to the hilt thanks to negative gearing. this means your average investor can potentially own up to 14 properties, hence pricing families who need affordable dwelling out. this is why only the uninformed and irrational chinese, indian, taiwanese and singaporean buyers are willing to pay ultra premium prices for property that is actually not worth the money.
    just on the weekend, some idiot paid $1.5m for a tiny unrenovated 15 year old townhouse with just 180m2 of living in a suburb that is 15kms from Melbourne CBD. the quote was $1.2m. plus stamp duty and some renovations, this will be a $1.7m property. if you take $1.7m to US, Italy, Spain, France and the UK, you will be very pleasantly rewarded with a beautiful home, in a good neighbourhood and still have cash left to purchase a porsche or ferrari.
    wtf is going on in Melbourne and Sydney and why isn’t turnbull or abbot or shorten doing anything? well, for startes, turnbull is a huge property investor himself and he knows, buying and selling of property in Australian earns the Gov’t billions in stamp duty revenue every year. he needs property to keep going so that he can purchase his nuke submarines. wtf again!

  19. @20, Marvel – spot on as to some of the causes of our housing bubble. There are others too, like the death of industry and manufacturing, making it far more profitable to invest in houses than businesses, the fact that Australia is one of the most urbanised countries in the world with a huge percentage of the population crowding into the biggest cities, and many other causes.

    You ask why the pollies aren’t doing anything. The reason is the same that no government has done anything to curtail this bubble for at least the past 20 years – on the contrary, all their policies have been to grow this bubble as big as possible.

    I’ve said this many times recently – our bubble is now too big to allow to pop. It has swallowed everything in its wake, it has a soul-destroying effect for those locked out of housing and it has widened the gap between the haves and the have-nots. Anyone in government is a “have”. Their high wages facilitate negative gearing and they can amass property huge portfolios. Why would they want the cost of housing to fall?

    And so, there is no choice but to keep pumping the cost of housing. There doesn’t seem to be much protest from the younger generation who not only have HECS debts but now have to subject themselves to a lifetime of mortgage slavery if they want to get on the housing ladder.

    I’ll tell you when the bubble will pop. The current younger generation will inherit massive wealth in the form of property. Those who miss out will become increasingly angry, but their voices won’t be heard loudly until the boomer generation has mostly died out. The government will finally have to do something then.

    But until that day, unless we are lucky enough for some external influence causes this bubble to pop, it’s only going to grow bigger. It’s hard to believe that costs can rise higher than they already are. It seemed that they couldn’t get any higher in 2007 just before the GFC but they’ve doubled in many places since then. Who are the ones buying and paying ridiculous amounts? The foreign buyers of course. But it’s also people upgrading to their second or third home, having made a killing from their first or second property. Or inheriting a fortune.

    I’m sorry it’s all bad news. I wish it were different. But unless there is pressure on the govt to pop the bubble, it will only grow, and at the moment there are too many people who are very happy with their tattslotto-like winnings.

  20. When gov’t, real-estate industry, investors, etc. are all working against the interests of the average citizen who just wants a house to live in, the way to get ahead is to beat the system. We’re smarter than the people who created this ludicrous system. Let’s beat the system. How? Well, partly by doing what we’re doing: disseminating information and exposing the hypocrisy and insanity of it all, as well as informing uninformed people of the unavoidable crash that is coming up, so it potentially happens sooner. Also: saving. Also: thinking outside the box. Finding other ways to obtain a house without handing over half a million dollars to banks, gov’t, and rich people.

  21. @22 Half a million? If only! Try getting anything liveable within 20km of Melbourne or Sydney for less than $1.5 million. I’m talking about houses that would have sold for less than $200K 20 years ago. Many of them have gone up at least ten times in price while wages have probably doubled.

  22. So we should try the first strategy of disseminating information and exposing the insanity of this “housing/investors get rich” industry to bring on the inevitable crash sooner. In fact, the sooner the crash happens, the better it is for everyone, because the higher something is, the harder it falls. So we have a moral imperative to inform people.

  23. A very sad interview last night with Leigh Sales and the PM as she asks him why would you not eliminate Negative Gearing which distorts the housing market making it impossible for our children to ever buy a house. He of course weasels out of any sensible answer and states the reason why houses are expensive is because of under supply.(LOL) Good to see Leigh get very terse with him over 6 months of inaction and the possibility of the budget reducing company tax. This bankers’ PM has to be the all time poster boy for Crony Capitalism.


  24. There was a story on CH 10 news tonight about auctions around the country. Showed some people in Sydney buying a house and saying they were concerned with the price but were also concerned that if they didn’t buy now that prices will continue to get more expensive.

    Sounds like the fear of missing out is well and truly kicking in for those in Sydney. This is going to end in tears for so many people.

  25. If property hoarding is the result of a few banking propert as a result of money laundering then this is a serious issue. If however, someone has worked hard to own a property and simply doesn’t want to rent it out, fair enough. To date, we still do not have sufficient anti money laundering rules for propert in Australia. They were supposed to have been implemented in 2007. Here we are, several years later and still no proper rules in place…

  26. @26
    I just watched C9 news and become confused….
    The major banks are toughening up lending in suburbs with high density new unit blocks such as: Waterloo, Zetland, Homebush and a few others, but then we get told ( by professional people I’m assuming) Sydney is 40,000 dwellings short in relation to the population and if will get worse if construction companies decide not to build in these particular suburbs!!
    Am I missing something, I know we live in a society of no accountability, greed, fraud and over the last 15 or more years we lost any great direction and leadership, (let’s not get into political correctness and been silenced), but I can’t understand the open Bull@&$T that is thrown at people to keep this housing boom/ bust alive……
    Maybe I’m just part of the silent majority waiting for something to change??

  27. Here is another reason not to move to Oz. Your Bank accounts are not guaranteed against bank failure if the bank in question proceeds with bail-in provisions and makes you a shareholder (creditor) As most western governments have agreed not to put the taxpayer on the hook for the future debts of the Too Big To Fail institutions it seems likely all cash in accounts will be confiscated. Not hard to decide which is safer. Banks riding a housing bubble which will collapse or your mattress.

  28. @ 31

    Apartment prices are not the canary in the coal mine for price falls, that sector had its own cycle distinct from the remainder of the property market. They are built and marketed using a particular strategy, and prices can rise and fall quite dramatically irregardless of what the rest of the market is doing.

  29. If however, someone has worked hard to own a property and simply doesn’t want to rent it out, fair enough.

    You know when you were a child and you refused to each your vegetables, your parents would tell you that there were children starving in Africa.

    Well, do we need to point out to the property speculators (when they announce how much capital gain they’ve made) that there are 100 000 people homeless in Australia. Australians really are selfish jerks.

    Of course they’ll angrily state that they worked hard to make that gain, ignoring how the tax system skewed the economy to their advantage.

    FFS we have a shortage of housing in this country and hoarders are making the problem worse not better. If the tax system was working the supply of housing would be meeting demand. The politicians keep telling us that is what the tax system is designed to do.

    If you can afford to hold a property without generating any income from it you can afford to take on a tenant at low rent. We need a broad based land tax to sort these f#@kers out.

  30. @ 33

    Housing shortage? lol ABS stats for many years have shown the new building approvals have exceeded the increases in population. There might be high demand in inner Melb and Syd, but there is no housing shortage overall in Australia..

  31. Yeah, the housing shortage myth is a joke. One only needs to look at the number of residents per dwelling….If there was a housing shortage we would see that statistic rising…. Oh come on REI, tell me truth on that????

    Just like there was a housing shortage in USA. Anyone watch foreign correspondent would have seen them bulldozing house after house. 10,000 in Cleveland alone….. … Housing shortage???? Nah.

    It’s a big scam, something many of us have shone the light on. It’s all about giving hard earned dollars to the banks as interest payments on money they ‘created’. Without mega debt their scam collapses..

    Oh hang on, were nearly there now! Hang on.

  32. I’ve read books written just before the GFC hit the US around 2008. Then, there were people that believed that they were too big an economy to fail. The few and the brave that warned people by looking at familiar patterns and risky lending were largely ignored until it was too late.

  33. Many apartments in expensive suburbs are deliberately left empty. “”Leaving housing empty is both profitable and subsidised by government,” researchers Bill Randolph and Laurence Troy said. “This is taxation lunacy and a national scandal.” Rich property investors are basically welfare-bludging parasites.

    SMH ARTICLE: “Thousands of empty homes adding to Sydney’s housing crisis, experts say”

  34. Here’s some irony for you, below is a documentary regarding the slow down of China’s economy, in particular its manufacturing that the west outsourced to because of China’s cheap labour. Now China wants outsource its manufacturing to South East nations such as Vietnam (because of increased labour costs.

    You really have to feel for the average Chinese worker, the poor buggers are worked into the ground and paid peanuts, with holiday pay, sick leave, super, pensions etc.


  35. Titty,

    But apparently not enough to house 100,000 people. And that was my point. For those 100,000 people it definitely looks like a housing shortage.

    So yes on paper we don’t have a housing shortage, but the reality for a lot of people is we do. It is an artificial shortage created by a tax system that rewards speculation (and hoarding).

  36. Everyone commenting on how that tech companies can just move to Adelaide clearly don’t work in the tech industry. These companies all rely on each other for services (ie, security, backups, server farms, etc). This is all easier when there is a pre-existing infrastructure in place like Sydney. And also, most of the flights end up going to Sydney or Melbourne with a stopover instead of direct (in the case of Adelaide).

    When I first moved to Australia I had upper end IT certs. There was no work outside Sydney and Melbourne. Part of this was because Aus has always been behind in this aspect but from what I understand it is still behind 15 years later. Now that I am a citizen and have friends occasionally visit from overseas, the comments are that A) it is too expensive here
    and B) it takes too long to travel here. And that is without even considering real estate costs.

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