Sustainable Population Australia (SPA) has questioned the claim by the Business Council of Australia (BCA) that ‘two thirds of Australians believe that properly planned and well managed migration is good for Australia’. BCA has asked a loaded question, to get the answer they wanted. Their result is directly contradicted by the more reliable Australia Population Research Institute survey. Here, 70% want net migration at somewhat or much lower levels than the pre-COVID 240,000.
“Merely adding more people isn’t a sustainable economic strategy. We can’t pretend that high immigration comes without a cost and growth should not impose an unfair burden on those who are already here. Excessively rapid growth puts downward pressure on wages and upward pressure on housing prices, both of which have sorely stung workers and aspiring home-owners in Sydney and other parts of NSW for a decade. When you look at the numbers, it’s no surprise communities in Sydney are feeling the pressure. In 2006, annual net overseas migration to Australia increased to roughly double its pace across the preceding 25 years.” (Dominique Perrottet as Treasurer in 2018)
To the horror of many Australians, Perrottet has recently called for 'explosive immigration' to Australia, purportedly as an economic fix. In this interview we see how shockingly cynical this call really is, in the light of Perrottet's own history.
Dominic Perrottet’s ‘explosive immigration surge’ will be a disaster
Kelvin Thomson, after quoting Dominique Perrottet above, added, “He told your colleague Michael Mclaren, in an interview in 2018, that simply because the treasury bureaucrats might tell you that putting in more people drives economic growth, that is lazy economics. That’s what he should have told your bureaucrats now, instead of apparently falling hook line and sinker for what he was able to recognize as rubbish three years ago.”
Candobetter Editorial comment: It is obvious that immigration adds pressure on politicians too. Was giving the growth lobby 'explosive immigration' the price Perrottet paid to be NSW Premier, causing him to eat his 2018 words? NSW people and the rest of Australia will also pay for this if it goes ahead.
In the podcast we link to above, Luke Grant is joined by The Hon. Kelvin Thomson, Former Federal Member for Wills & spokesman for the Sustainable Australia Party, who advises that NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet rule out proposals for an “explosive” immigration surge which would bring in 2 million extra migrants over the next five years.
Mr Thomson says, “Not only will 2 million extra people be an environmental disaster, it will be a disaster for young Sydney-siders.”
“For the first time in years the Reserve Bank and leading economists have seen signs of wages growth and increasing job opportunities for young people.”
“The “explosive” two million extra people would detonate those opportunities, blowing the chances of young people to have secure full time jobs right out of the water.”
“The “explosive” surge would also be bad for Sydney’s housing affordability, traffic congestion, greenhouse gas emissions, open space and tree canopy cover.”
Larry Schlesinger, in the Financial Review (May 26, 2020) wrote a article entitled “Rental market rocked by insane student exodus.” It pertained to the “grave” concerns that a clique of high-profile property developers in Melbourne have with the cessation of massive international student migration, due to COVID 19. Property sector denizens mentioned in it were, third on the Fin Review’s “Young Rich List”, Tim Gurner; Caroline Viney, previously of Grocon, currently the chief development officer of Vicinity Centres; and Shane Quinn, a partner with the commercial property group, Quintessential Equity. The Lord Mayor of Melbourne, Sally Capp, who was until recently the Victorian Executive Direct for the Property Council of Australia, added her angst.
Tim Gurner apparently described the treatment of foreign students as, “The most insane thing,” he had ever seen in his career.
The article reports that:
“An exodus of students drove a tripling of residential vacancy rates in the inner city of Melbourne in April.”
Tim Gurner is quoted, saying,
“The rental market has taken a massive hit. It’s my biggest concern.”
We are also informed that these circumstances have led to rents falling between 10 to 30 per cent which, if sustained, would affect residential values.
Gurner related that his firm just completed a building with 140 apartments with 100 of them in the letting pool.
“We normally lease them all in two hours with one inspection. Tragically we’ve leased only half of them in six weeks. Clearly, that is a gross disparity.”
The Lord Mayor of Melbourne then gets a run, saying,
“The city is the place where people come together. Our economy is based upon the city being a meeting and gathering place.”
Such partisans of ‘growth’ have cooperated over the past decade, but particularly so since 2014, with making the international student sector a prime aspect of Victoria’s economy. The foreign student population has ballooned in the CBD of Melbourne, in recent years, as part of the supposed $40 billion bonanza to Australia’s economy.
Quite simply, these increasing numbers of international students, flooding into the CBD over the past few years, haven’t, as some like to imagine, created a cultural and material nirvana. Foreign students and Australians have all suffered from the resulting rise in rents and associated costs. And now COVID-19 has placed students in shocking situations, without employment, not qualifying for welfare payments, and often unable to return home to their families.
Maybe the property development sector should give them all free accommodation, since it has been the primary driver and beneficiary of the situation that led to this disaster.
The covert cooperation of politicians and property developers has culminated in a mass migration program that has enriched a small group of focused beneficiaries, but, in the process, has caused the world’s highest property and rental prices, with utilities, energy, and education, following suit. These skyrocketing basic costs affect employees and employers, reducing profit margins and placing pressure on salaries, whilst enriching corporate mortgage-lenders. Furthermore, this situation has made COVID-19 so much more costly than it ever needed to be. Government has had to provide income support to cover extortionate property prices, often costing the taxpayer-funded welfare sector more in rental support than in income payments, ironically whilst compensating the property industry that caused the problem in the first place.
It would be fitting if the property development sector were required to give free accommodation to Australia's homeless and unemployed.
Developer desire to profit, combined with population pressure, has also compromised planning laws and courts, permitting high rise slum prototypes in the urban areas, and mean little lots in new rural slums, as people accept ever lower standards of accommodation.
So, predictably, we have Tim Gurner, Caroline Viney, Shane Quinn, and Sally Capp, along with the collective of property groups (like the Australia Israel Chamber of Commerce and the Australian Business Council), vigorously attempting to re-establish affairs as they were, prior to COVID 19 undermining their game. They want the rental demand in the CBD of Melbourne once more from foreign students; who will occupy the real estate that they control.
How in the world did Victoria end up with being dependent upon selling education and renting property to foreigners as its most important revenue source?
Why have all of the State governments colluded with the Federal government to implement this agenda to make educating foreigners, not just Victoria’s largest export industry, but the country’s too?
The international student sector is touted as a great economic boon for Australia, when, in reality, it has put Australians in competition with high-fee-paying foreign students, for higher education - a precious national resource, with limited capacity. The crass monetisation of this sector has depressed academic standards in order to lower the admission bar, and more and more of us, foreign and locally-born, are becoming slum-dwellers. How much lower can the property sector drag us?
*This article was developed around an edited comment from "Mary" - who did not leave her contact details, so we could not get in touch with her. We now know her as Mary Defoe.
The Victorian Government’s master planning document, Plan Melbourne— which drives high density development throughout our suburbs—assumes continuing rapid population growth over the next decade. The coronavirus pandemic, and the Federal response to it, means this assumption has been overtaken by events, and that Plan Melbourne is out of date. The Morrison Government expects a fall of up to 300,000 people moving to Australia over the next 2 years. The Federal Government expects net overseas migration to fall by 30% in the current financial year, and to crash by 85% in 2020-21 to around 40,000.
Some of the drivers of this fall are outside Australia’s control, such as lockdowns in other countries and a collapse in international air travel. However the Federal Labor Opposition has also signalled a reduction in migration, calling for Australia’s immigration to be overhauled and curtailed in the wake of the pandemic. Opposition
spokesperson, Senator Keneally, has written,
“Do we want migrants to return to Australia in the same numbers and in the same composition as before the crisis? The answer is no”.
Against this background, the Victorian Government needs to quickly reassess Plan Melbourne—which makes high rise and high density housing a planning priority at the cost of any other considerations. Otherwise we risk being caught living in the past. It is likely that businesses that have developed a dependence on rapid population growth will struggle, and the Victorian Government needs to plan for this.
It would also be wrong for the Government to continue to impose rules enforcing denser populations on communities that don’t want them. Plan Melbourne has been a vehicle for Councils to be told they have to accommodate “their share” of Melbourne’s population growth. The Government should revisit its population projections, and not be caught out by a potentially fast changing population landscape.
It certainly should not continue to impose high-rise coronavirus traps, forcing people to live on top of each other, on unwilling communities.
The evidence around the world is clear –a dense population is a vulnerable one. The Victorian Government needs to understand that the game has changed, and move with the times.
Daniel Ziffer's journalistic effort for the ABC Saturday May 9th, "Calls to cut immigration often ignore Australia's economic and social reality," was sparked off by Shadow Minister for Immigration and Home Affairs, Senator Kristina Keneally's week old article, calling for a review of the numbers of skilled temporary workers. The purpose of the review she was calling for was to give Australians who have lost their jobs due to coronavirus lock-down, first preference in the job market when "normality" returns. This mild and reasonable suggestion has met with a frenzy of opposing articles in the mainstream media, and this ABC concoction is yet another of these.
In summary, the article is making the points that our social reality is multi-ethnic, as indicated in a photograph; and that senator Keneally, because she is an immigrant, has no moral right to suggest lowering the numbers of skilled temporary overseas workers following the Covid 19 crisis. Ziffer wrote (in the article) that Australia's important money-earners include "opportunity and growth". He uses the example of a successful migrant who is making money from population growth, which in turn is meant to illustrate the need for ongoing immigration and population growth (!).
Ziffer also notes that GDP per capita is actually falling, wages are "stagnant", and that people feel they are going backwards. Yet he later says that "We've become vastly rich — economically as well as a society — because of our diverse make-up." (!) Which is it? Are we feeling left behind or are we vastly rich? Does it depend who we are?
His closing comments relate to his earlier criticism of Senator Keneally for having the temerity, as a migrant, to make a public statement on immigration settings, even though she is the Opposition spokesperson on Immigration and Home Affairs!
He finishes up lurching to the extreme of calling this, "closing the door" to immigration (which was not suggested by Ms Keneally nor any other published commentator in the news this week), saying this cannot be done, because it would mean all of us - apart from the just over 3% of us who are of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander heritage - would be denying our ancestors, since they were all migrants.
So, from the Ziffer perspective, Australia is locked into perpetual immigration, at a rate that cannot be questioned, by those who live here, those who come here, and even by the the Shadow Minster for Immigration and Home Affairs!
Labor MP, Anne Aly, has been widely publicised objecting to immigration and population being mentioned together by Kristina Keneally, Shadow minister for immigration and citizenship, and NSW Premier from 2009 to 2011. Aly's tired cliches have predictably summoned up a dog-pack of growthists claiming to hear dog-whistles and to see Pauline Hanson look-a-likes. The growth lobby and its spokespeople are panicking, because the chickens of their land-speculation are coming home to roost, as COVID-19 dries up immigration. The more Anne Aly supports them, the more publicity she will get - always useful for an aspiring politician - and damn the consequences for Australians.
Kenneally's 'offending words':
"As a result of COVID-19, Australia will soon have an opportunity to do something we have never done before: restart a migration program. When we do, we must understand that migration is a key economic policy lever that can help or harm Australian workers during the economic recovery and beyond.
We must make sure that Australians get a fair go and a first go at jobs. Our post-COVID-19 economic recovery must ensure that Australia shifts away from its increasing reliance on a cheap supply of overseas, temporary labour that undercuts wages for Australian workers and takes jobs Australians could do." (Kristina Keneally, "Advancing Australia," Sunday Age, 3 May 2020.)
Anne Aly's 'indignant' response:
Showing woeful or feigned ignorance of the components of population growth in Australia, to the acclaim of the big end of town, Labor MP Anne Aly has objected to immigration and population being mentioned together by Kristina Keneally.
In fact immigration has, until a recent pause due to COVID-19, composed more than 60 per cent of Australia's shockingly rapid population growth for nigh on a decade. So, what's Anne Aly's problem with the truth, that she thinks gives her licence to attack Kristina Keneally (or by implication anyone else) for voicing it? Worse, Aly, who is supposed to be representing Australians, has criticised Keneally for wanting to put Australians first. If not Australians first, then who, Ms Aly?
Aly is not the only one doing service for the growth lobby in the ALP, which is known for its massive investments in property finance and development. (See, for instance, /node/1781.)
The ABC's The Drum ran an item on this on Monday 4 May 2020. The clip starts around the 30 min mark on the ABC podcast. Geoff Gallop and the rest of the panel, including Abdul Rizvi (ex immigration public servant from 1990s to 2007), uncritically recited the usual propaganda about how immigration creates jobs, Australians don't want to do some jobs, Australia needs it to cope with ageing (they must be pleased with COVID-19's lethal effect on the elderly), falling natural increase, etc. A union representative did mention the problem of exploitation through the short-term work visa system. Rizvi acknowledged this is a problem. As an incorrigible immigration advocate, however, he claimed it is solvable. Whilst it might theoretically be solvable, like world hunger, it has actually been getting much worse, due to legal and constitutional changes. As we have come to expect from the ABC, unfortunately, there was no sign of an articulate representative of an opposing view.
Kristina Keneally was interviewed by Fran Kelly on Tuesday morning (5 May 2020) on ABC RN. Kelly basically accused Keneally of dog whistling and undertones of racism in her weekend article. (This was also articulated by Australian Director at Human Rights Watch, Elaine Pearson, in a punishing tone last night on Q and A, egged on by the presenter of course.) I thought Keneally held her position very well in the face of Fran Kelly's interrogation, and came across as coherent and reasonable. She also put her position in a human context, with her call for temporary migrants who are stuck here due to Covid 19, being given government assistance, as are Australian workers. The part of what Keneally wrote, that Kelly latched onto, was that Keneally advocated Australians being catered for first in the post COVID-19 job market before importing workers from overseas.
This was supposedly sounding like Pauline Hanson and that is bad because Pauline Hanson said it (!). Furthermore Pauline Hanson has thrown the spotlight on it as something she's been saying for years.
Seems we are still stuck in a closed circuit where anyone who raises the issue of immigration in any form will be hammered back in the media with accusations of racism. It has worked so well that those who benefit from it will never tire of it.
Jobs and growth
The Financial Review editorial for 4 May 2020 would have the reader think that Australia and Australians have been prospering over the last three decades. Ordinary Australians have lost heavily and continue to.
Jobs and growth have not brought prosperity. In fact "jobs" has meant overwork for some and underemployment stress for others. "Growth" has meant overcrowding, housing stress and reduced quality of life, including destruction of the environment. What's growing is just the number of people partaking in this!
The Financial Review editorial criticises the need to even talk about immigration numbers policy in Australia, since the numbers have dropped with the closing of our borders due to COVID-19. But this is precisely when we should talk about it, because, to a certain extent, the pressure from the growth lobby has to relent during this pause. Or you would think so, however, they are coming out in force, as we can see from the above.
Sometimes you hear the other side, as in this SBS article:
But if you read the whole article, Professor Hogan is outnumbered, two to one, by pro-immigration 'experts', with their mass-produced cliches.
"University of Sydney Associate Professor Anna Boucher agreed it was an opportunity to examine Australia's migration program, she said it was important to acknowledge migrants have an important role to play in the recovery."
The real problem is that greedy land-speculators who have been running the country for years and who have borrowed to build apartments to sell to new migrants, are now looking at financial collapse, while the rest of us are looking at a lower cost of living as population-pressure on housing-prices finally falls.
But the growth lobby knows how to put the wind up the powerful, and the Australian Prime Minister knows which side his bread is buttered on:
"Cutting immigration would hurt the economy and communities: Morrison." Sydney Morning Herald, 5 May 2020.)
Hallelujah! It didn't take him long. But what about COVID-19? It hasn't gone away. The Prime Minister also said he was going to a football match despite the pandemic, then backed down, shortly before we all went into lock-down.
Panic among the growthists
The growth lobby and its spokespeople are panicking. Maybe because they don't want Australians or those living here to realise they enjoy aspects of their lives now, not tearing around, having some time for themselves off the work-commute treadmill. They (the growth lobby) are saying, "Don't get used to it. You must take The Economy's medicine, even though you don't like it. You all understand why chickens are raised in crowded conditions. It's good for the bottom line. Likewise, when you are more crowded in, it is better for the bottom line - not yours exactly, but that of your owners - just like the chickens. You just have to believe that what is good for someone else's bottom line is good for yours. It takes a certain way of thinking. You have to believe.
 "Coronavirus: Aussies-first rhetoric must stop in immigration debate, says Anne Aly," The Australian, 4 May 2020.
On 27 March 2020, the AWU and Master Builders Australia jointly called on governments to ensure the continued operation of the building and construction industry, claiming that without it the economic knock-on effects would be devastating on a scale that would dwarf what we have seen to date.
There is no question that many dependencies on this very costly and demanding industry would cause more economic disruption, but what about safety with regard to COVID-19? Although the industry argues that it can be safe, we will argue that the industry is not suited to workers keeping safe distances. On the principle that a stitch in time saves nine, it would be better to shut down sooner rather than later because the later action is taken, the worse the grip of COVID-19 will be on the economy. Since the virus has caused the government to cease the mass migration that has driven huge expansion in the construction industry, demand has dropped, and now is the perfect time to massively curtail construction industry activity. In the meantime, will the industry take responsibility for the return home of the many temporary migrant construction workers from China and Indonesia who, unlike international cruise-ship passengers, are already onshore, virtually invisible, but numerous? And an industry worker argues that the industry is not capable of adapting to safe distance practice.
“The shutdown of the construction industry would jeopardise not just those employed directly, but the whole livelihoods of millions of Australians employed in precarious sectors like manufacturing. It would devastate nationally important industries in the building supply chain, like the $30 billion steel industry,” say the AWU and MBA.
This shows that we have become too dependent on this industry. It has an unhealthy hold on our economy, our political system, our politicians and political parties. This hold has destroyed business, industry and employment diversity in Australia, because agriculture and ordinary manufacturing cannot compete with the inflated profits of the rapidly metastasizing property development sector, which attracts finance away from other sectors.
The same industry has successfully lobbied decades for faster and faster population growth, via mass immigration, to drive demand for its product. Now the demand will dry up as immigration has been stopped, finally providing an interruption to property-development’s hold on our economy.
As well as importing customers, the industry has also exploited many temporary migrants, undermining immigration rules, safety, wages and other employment conditions. The industry may have profited, but prices have risen and standards have dropped, to the extent that buildings over three stories are now uninsurable.
The AWU and MBA argue that, “Forcing the industry’s closure would also blunt the impact of federal, state and territory government stimulus packages as infrastructure projects would immediately grind to a halt. Civil construction, in particular, must continue to build the nation and can do so safely given the nature of its sites.”
The cry of ‘nation-building’ has led to overdevelopment with disastrous drops in building standards and environmental amenity. Australians have suffered from constant upheaval and loss of democracy as government outsourced planning to developers. In the name of catering to unprecedented population growth, Australian cities, suburbs and regions have been taken out of the control of their residents, subjected to constant infrastructure expansion, road-building, traffic diversions, and destruction of loved environment.
The AWU and MBA’s line is: ”Indeed, the catastrophic threat of a construction shutdown means the whole construction industry has a civic duty to impress upon authorities it can operate while ensuring compliance with social distancing and hygiene requirements.”
How could anyone have confidence in an industry known for corrupting government at all levels, bullying, unaccountability, uninsurability, and lawlessness? This industry has seen thousands of Australians bankrupted and homeless. Multiple inquiries into its dysfunctionality have failed to reform it. It is time to stop dancing to the demands of this industry. Australia has been living beyond its means in an artificially and unreasonably accelerated growth period.
The AWU and MBA try to present a picture of reform and responsibility:
“That means everyone in the industry has to step up and be accountable. Construction companies and project managers must ensure that protocols at their site are enforced. Construction workers owe it to each other and their families to be responsible and do the right thing. This is only the only way the industry can continue working while reducing the risk of COVID-19 transmission.”
Unsafe: Safe distance mostly impossible in Construction industry
An industry worker, who prefers to remain anonymous, says:
“Practising safe distance at building sites for most activities is impossible.
It is generally not safe for one person to work alone in the industry. Usually construction sites involve many people in many activities simultaneously, crisscrossing each other in small and often confined spaces, sharing narrow temporary paths and causeways.
In multi-storey building construction, hoists are used to bring people to various floors. These hoists are always crammed with people. It is not affordable to take people (or loads) one at a time.
Concreters work closely together when they lay concrete, frequently in small areas. You might have one worker using a scrider, and two others using a shovel or a vibrator, not even half a meter from each other. You will often get four or five people a couple of meters square, due to the need to act together to carry out the work. It would be hard or impossible for one person to do such work alone. It would be uneconomical for less than four or five.
High-rise work employs huge crowds of skilled and unskilled workers. It is common in the construction of a multi-storey building to have 40 steel-fixers and 40 form-workers operating simultaneously on one floor.
The nature of the industry entails very basic conditions of hygiene and shelter. Disinfection and maintenance of disinfection in such areas, where many workers are coming and going, would require a large-scale dedicated team of cleaners and supervisors with the authority to stop and start work. It would be dangerous to have such teams present on building sites.
Construction sites are scenes of intense activity, with many people interacting on many processes, helping each other. The cost of construction means that things are done as quickly as possible.
When trucks are unloaded, you often have many labourers unloading next to each other.
It is rare for one person to work alone. Generally speaking, in this industry, safety requires workers to work in pairs or in larger groups.
People are often required to work in confined space and they then need another person to assist with tools and equipment, physically handing these from one person to the next.
Transport is often shared. People habitually organise to come and go to work in one vehicle because many jobs are not accessible by public transport.
Many temporary migrants are moved in and out of construction sites in busloads from densely shared accommodation. A large proportion are Chinese and Indonesian. They often do not speak or read any English, and certainly not enough to know how to protect themselves. They tend to be insecure in their employment and visa status and are not likely to exercise their rights to safety, if they know them. These workers are like a separate population on construction sites, with whom only basic communication is possible, usually via their own foreman.
Will the industry now take steps to finance these workers’ return home?”
The AWU and the MBA say in their press release:
”In times of crisis people look to unions, industry, and government to work together. We have to show we can not only slow the spread of COIVID-19 but ensure there's an economy left when the crisis is over.”
The problem is that unions and government have been working for industry and against democracy for too long. Let’s hope the AWU and the MBA, the Property Council of Australia and all the other corporate coercers who have been calling our tune start to adapt to reality for a change.
The Canberra Times mentioned the Regional Australia institute on 11 August 2019 in Regional Australia is ready to grow so let's be ambitious. You may be curious about this Regional Australia Institute, what it is, who runs it, who finances it, what are its aims, and what it has to say about the environment and water.
What is it ?
It is a vehicle for promoting population driven economic growth throughout regional Australia. Its stated vision includes a "Big Australia" fuelled by immigration.
Who runs it ?
The Chair is Mal Peters, NSW farmer and former President of the NSW Farmers Federation. Apart from him, included on its 6 person Board are Ian Sinclair, Christian Zahra, and Grahame Morris, all former Coalition political identities.
Who finances it ?
From its Annual Report it seems its revenue comes from governments - in 2018 it received from them (no details of individual contributors) $2,008,829. Given the pro growth policies of all Australian governments that perhaps isn't surprising.
"Not only is Geelong now effectively subsumed into the greater growth orbit of the Melbourne conurbation, but there are surprise population surges in some of the state’s remoter provincial cities and communities. I am so excited about this.” (Bernard Salt, "Victoria reimagined from basket case beginnings," The Australian 8 August 2019.)
In a News Limited piece whose title fails to take into account the original careful planning by Robert Hoddle for natural open space and avenues rather than choked alleys for Melbourne, Bernard Salt somewhat maniacally promotes the Federal and Victorian State Government's planned immigration innundation on disenfranchised Victorians.
“The previous set of state projections released in 2016 had Victoria rising to 7.7 million by 2031 whereas the latest iteration has upped this outlook to 8.1 million. That’s another 400,000 Victorians and another 200,000 houses or apartments that must be delivered during the 2020s. That’s important if you’re in the property game.”
Salt lists 15 local government areas with the biggest absolute increase in their 2021 populations according to the 2016 to 2019 projections, and says,
“This is important for big property players. It shows a significant shift in the demand for housing.”
Here’s the line I’d run: “Minister, we need to rezone more land to accommodate the population projections released by your own department.”
“The 2031 outlook for ¬Monash has been upped by 19,000 while for Whitehorse the upward revision is 14,000. More units, I would imagine. And maybe even a touch of high rise or perhaps a more vigorous application of the principles of suburban densification.”
The article also dooms Melton, Whittlesea and Hume to severe growth and Salt predicts that the ‘urban growth boundary’ will need to be pushed out: .
“I can only imagine that all this net additional growth is taking Melbourne’s footprint closer to the edge of the urban growth boundary.
He asks himself:
“I wonder if the really big property players are thinking about where this boundary might next be “adjusted” to accommodate a city not of the five million we have today, but of the eight million projected by mid-century?”
Of course Bernard Salt with KPMG has been a major driver and promoter of such population growth, frequently seen at the various confabs of the ‘big property players’, so this wondering seems very rhetorical.
He discloses the nature of population growth as a ‘burden’. Indeed, it is costing all of us more than money, although the “big property players” probably consider themselves adequately compensated and possibly above suffering from the destruction of community networks, natural spaces and freedom.
“I do think it’s important that the population burden being added to Victoria needs to be fairly distributed, with the inner city taking a higher proportion. It’s a bit like the progressive tax system where the rich pay a higher tax rate. In demographic planning, greater growth should be attached to localities culturally aligned to higher density, and that offer access to jobs and public transport.”
He describes the metastasies of the ghastly tumour that Melbourne is becoming with a pathogist’s delight:
“It’s in rural Victoria where the demographers have done their most riveting work. Yes, riveting. Not only is Geelong now effectively subsumed into the greater growth orbit of the Melbourne conurbation, but there are surprise population surges in some of the state’s remoter provincial cities and communities. I am so excited about this.”
Excited at the loss of control by residents of their city and citizens of their democracy? Excited at the rising costs of living, at water shortages, at pollution, at wildlife extinction?
I think that growthism is an addiction with consequences that cause enormous harm. Like war, which some also consider exciting, it needs to be recognized for the all consuming ill that it is, for the vast majority, with only a tiny few reaping the questionable benefits of cash and power over their increasingly beggared fellows.
Article by Sheila Newman, Demographer and Evolutionary Sociologist.
I'm developing an unreasonable sense of proprietorship over Australia's island state,Tasmania. One could call it a "Tasmania mania", I suppose. How did this seemingly irrational neurosis arise? Am I alone?
About 15 years ago I realised that Victoria, where I live, was doomed to never-ending development, due to government insistence that we have incessant population growth, heavily supplemented from overseas immigration. You would wonder how an ordinary citizen could actually notice that the population was growing. Surely the changes would be happening in places where the people have not yet settled and would be out of sight and out of mind? To an extent, this was true for a while, and you had to go to the outskirts of Melbourne to see the sea of new rooftops on the side of highways trying to hide behind high walls. Those living in the "growth corridors" would complain of the massive changes in their local areas. They would moan in agony at the farmland and treasured bush land they could see being sacrificed for yet more suburbs. They tried to make us hear about what was happening and we listened but 15 years ago our established suburbs remained intact and our lives were relatively undisturbed so we were complacent.
In more recent years, a heavy foot has trodden on the accelerator of population growth and development. There seemed to be a spark of recognition from governments that Melbourne needed to be contained in some manner. The established suburbs were told they had to take their share of the population growth load. In came the bulldozers and, at a faster and faster rate, we all noticed empty blocks in our streets, and we struggled the very next day, post demolition, to remember what had been there the day before. Some of the demolitions got publicity. The gracious Victorian or Edwardian large houses or mansions, giving way to the wrecking ball after unsuccessful but valiant struggles by locals to preserve heritage and amenity, were and continue to be soon just large cavities. All vegetation is invariably removed, except for perhaps a token tree if not in the way of the giant yet to be constructed. Noise and the disruption of continual roadworks and infrastructure upgrades are now part our lives in Melbourne's suburbs. We live with short term uncertainty but long term resignation that our home environment will continue to be heavily degraded.
I think of not only the residents who are being inconvenienced and disadvantaged, but of the suburban wildlife - especially birds who will all but disappear. Once a large garden is excavated and transformed into a basement car park, that land is no longer a home for underground insects or flowering plants or trees. Habitat, in other words, is wiped out in an instant. "Birds can go somewhere else," they say. Well they can do this if there is somewhere else to go, but that means nevertheless that they are gone from the area. You will no longer get to hear them or see them. That is a huge loss that impoverishes your soul and those of your children, possibly before you can even put it into words.
I used to derive some comfort from the actual possibility that I can always move to Tasmania. I have visited Tasmania since my childhood as my grandparents and many cousins, uncles and aunts lived there. My family had a whole summer life-style there every year and so it was in a sense a second home. As a child I appreciated its quietness and beauty. Its sense of history, Hobart having been settled earlier than Melbourne, was reflected in many of its buildings. Tasmania, in reality, is not my home though. I have never lived there and I don't own any property there. But over the last 20 years it has been in the back of my mind as a possibility, an escape-hatch, as Melbourne's population surges towards 10 million (the same population of the whole of Australia when I was in primary school.)
For these reasons I feel a sense of alarm when I hear Tasmania mentioned in the news or on television or radio programs. I feel anxious, on the alert. What are they going to do? What are they going to change? I used to delight in the fact that whenever I returned to Tasmania, even in my adult years, it was always more or less the same; low key.
Yesterday I found my Tasmanian grandfather's 100+ year old scrap book. It provides an insight into life on that island at the time, through my grandfather's youthful passion for long-distance running. There are photos, newspaper clippings, and athletes programs about the many races and carnivals of the Hobart Harrier Club. The brown pages of the album are also filled out with images of relaxed beach goers and reunions of the old competitors 40 years later.
One album does not describe a whole lifestyle, but I could not help forming the impression that life was full and that those young men a century ago had made a life for themselves which was both physically and socially rewarding. This was in a small city in a state where the entire population of was only about 180,000"
My mother grew up in Hobart of the 1920s and 1930s. At that time her parents, as did many people in Hobart, owned a beach shack on the other side of the Derwent River to the city. She told me that she and her friends would catch a ferry to O'Possum Bay to stay on weekends. On arrival they would drop their bags at the house and proceed to the beach. If they saw anyone else on their chosen beach, they would move away around a point to another beach.
In the 1950s and 60s people in Hobart still had their beach shacks. My older cousins enjoyed sports such as surfing, water skiing, and sailing. I'm sure they worked hard at their weekday jobs or at school, but what I saw, was an easy accessibility to pastimes that would to most now seem like a luxury.
One of my cousins told me a few years ago that he would never move to Melbourne, as the 'lifestyle' wouldn't suit him. I found this amusing, as it seemed to me that no-one would actually choose the lifestyle on offer in Melbourne!
I wonder if the 'lifestyle' will suit him if the population of Hobart grows as the current premier intends it to.
Having spent the in Tasmania more than half a century ago, and hearing tales of the life there yet another 50 years before that, I feel I know the place a bit. I also know Melbourne very well and have watched it change from a rather quiet city, where you could get out easily into the country on the weekend just for an afternoon and where, if you could drive to a place, you could be pretty sure of being able to park your car there. You could be spontaneous about going places. All that has gone. Now, as often as not, I will hatch a plan involving travel in or around Melbourne, and then abandon the idea because of the uncertainties of traffic and parking.
I would like to keep alive the escape-hatch dream of simply moving to Hobart when Melbourne reaches complete bursting point. My anxiety levels rise when I hear of Hobart's fast growing population or when anyone puts it on the map for any reason. I heard this morning that MONA (Museum of Old and New Art, Hobart) was to be expanded further, and I felt sad. I like MONA but to me it is not Hobart, and why does it have to be bigger? Part of its attraction is the setting and, if it expands, more of the setting will be lost.
I would prefer not hear any news coming from Hobart. I want it to be quiet and unobtrusive and to just wait for me in case I need it.
ABC 7.30 Report last night aired part one of its three-part population special, which included me as the economist. While I will reserve judgement until the final two-parts have been aired, my initial gut reaction is disappointment. The main problem I see with it so far is the ABC has inferred that a population of more than 40-million mid-century is inevitable rather than a direct policy choice. Nowhere did The ABC clearly show how the federal government massively increased Australia’s immigration intake from the early-2000
ABC 7.30 Report last night aired part one of its three-part population special, which included me as the economist.
While I will reserve judgement until the final two-parts have been aired, my initial gut reaction is disappointing.
The main problem I see with it so far is the ABC has inferred that a population of more than 40-million mid-century is inevitable rather than a direct policy choice.
Nowhere did The ABC clearly show how the federal government massively increased Australia’s immigration intake from the early-2000s:
Nor how immigration is the defacto driver of Australia’s population increase – both directly as migrants step off the plane, as well as indirectly when they have children (then counted as ‘natural increase’). This was made explicit by the Productivity Commission’s 2016 Migrant Intake Australia report, which showed that Australia’s population would barely increase without immigration:
While the segment at least didn’t include spruiker ‘demographers’ like Liz Allen or Peter McDonald, it instead replaced them with another cookie-cutter demographer from ANU. One wonders why Bob Birrell wasn’t contacted, who has been a strong critique of Australia’s ‘Big Australia’ Program:
Finally, the spokesperson for Infrastructure Australia (IA) claimed that “population growth is an opportunity” – conveniently ignoring that IA has issued several recent stark warnings about infrastructure failing to keep pace with population growth, as well as ignoring IA’s own recent projections showing that living standards in both Sydney and Melbourne will be crushed as their populations surge to 7.4 million and 7.3 million by 2046:
Again, while I will reserve judgement until the final two parts are aired, I am not hopeful that The ABC will analyse this issue correctly and actually inform debate.
The South Australian Liberal Government is preparing the ground for a cheap labour flood by axing labour hire laws targeting migrant worker exploitation. The question of whether or not South Australian’s actually want this people flood is far more problematic. Back in October last year, the lobby group representing migration agents warned that South Australia’s population growth could fall to zero, and economic problems would worsen, following visa reforms by the federal government. Thankfully, this false alarm was ridiculed by former South Australian Premier, Jay Weatherill, who rejected the Migration Institute’s special pleadings. Article by Leith van Onselen, first published at https://www.macrobusiness.com.au/2018/09/and-now-for-the-crush-loading-of-adelaide/ on September 21, 2018.
As Melbourne and Sydney rage builds, the answer for the living standards destroying growth lobby (property, banks, retail) is South Australia, via Domainfax:
Prime Minister Scott Morrison threatened to “pull levers” to get growth under control on Thursday, including sending international students to regional universities to relieve urban congestion as he puts together a formal population policy.
“Up in the north, they want more population, in Adelaide they want more population,” he said.
“I can tell you, in the outer suburbs of Sydney and Melbourne, they don’t.”
The South Australian Liberal Government is preparing the ground for a cheap labour flood by axing labour hire laws targeting migrant worker exploitation. From The ABC:
Attorney-General Vickie Chapman has announced the State Government will seek to repeal the Labour Hire Licensing Scheme which was put in place by the former state government.
The scheme, which came into effect earlier this year, includes stricter penalties for wrongdoers and a requirement for all labour hire companies to be licensed.
The amendments successfully passed SA Parliament in November 2017 and stemmed from a Four Corners investigation alleging the exploitation and underpayment of migrant workers at various companies.
“The whole regime will go,” Ms Chapman told the ABC.
“The labour hire laws were established on ideology and they’ll be repealed on common sense…
The move has been met with both support and outrage, with Business SA applauding the repeal but the Opposition and SA Unions vowing to fight against it.
Let’s recall what the parliamentary inquiry into establishing a modern slavery act said:
9.146 The Committee recognises that recent Commonwealth, state and territory inquiries have highlighted the role that unscrupulous labour hire companies play in contributing to the exploitation of migrant workers…
9.150 While the Committee acknowledges that a labour licensing scheme is no ‘silver bullet’ to stopping exploitation and modern slavery, it considers that taken together with the Australian Government’s existing measures and the recommendations of this report, it will assist to improve protections for migrant workers…
9.152 The Committee recommends that the Australian Government establish a uniform national labour hire licensing scheme, consistent with recommendations by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Law Enforcement, the Joint Standing Committee on Migration and the Senate Education and Employment References Committee. This licensing scheme should incorporate random audits and unannounced inspections of labour hire firms to ensure compliance.
We can’t have that! The horribly conflicted Migration Council wants less protections and it must have its way.
The question of whether or not South Australian’s actually want this people flood is far more problematic. Back in October last year, the lobby group representing migration agents warned that South Australia’s population growth could fall to zero, and economic problems would worsen, following visa reforms by the federal government. Thankfully, this false alarm was ridiculed by former South Australian Premier, Jay Weatherill, who rejected the Migration Institute’s special pleadings:
“In South Australia over the last five years, during the Census period 2011 to 2016, (we) grew at five per cent,” he said. “That’s faster than France, it’s faster than the UK, it’s faster than the US. So in international terms population growth has been quite robust.
“In international terms, (we are) growing like a chemistry experiment. We are growing at twice the rate of the growth of the OECD, three times the rate of the growth of many countries around the world.”
When challenged about the state’s decline in population growth relative to other Australian states, he said: “We’re not running a high population growth strategy.”
“Look if you want to spend an hour and a half in traffic or spend over a million dollars for a home and actually deal with the crime and the dysfunction and the disunity that occurs in some of those other fast-growing places you’re welcome to it, but we like it here.”
During a subsequent debate, South Australia’s then opposition leaders warned that the state’s population was growing too slowly, which earned another strong rebuke from former Premier Jay Weatherill. From News.com.au:
South Australian party leaders have butted heads over population growth at a debate hosted by the SA Press Club on Friday.
While SA Best leader Nick Xenophon and opposition leader Steven Marshall highlighted the state’s rate of growth as an area of concern, Premier Jay Weatherill said he was “not a high population growth person” and neither was his government.
“The notion that we’re a slow growing state is nonsense, it’s just that the rest of Australia is growing like a science experiment,” he said.
Here’s the chart of South Australia’s population growth:
Hardly looks like an “area of concern”, does it?
Then again, Jay Weatherill lost the election. So perhaps SA wants a new dose of falling living standards. Here’s the chart of South Australia’s labour underemployment and underutilisation rates (some of the highest in the land):
The irony is that the SA labour market has been hollowed out by manufacturing-destroying exchange rate lifting policies of the growth lobby. Now it will be internally deflated instead.
Get set for the crush-loading of Adelaide. Rising house prices, falling wages and reduced amenity for all.
The Australian Financial Review seems these days only to speak for the corporate land speculators and financiers. Bugger small or medium business which must pay the cost of mass immigration in high rents and reduced profit margins, making its products globally uncompetitive and underpinning the very high rate of business failure in Australia. Predictably, in its support of corporate business interests, the AFR is again trotting out the 'mass immigration keeps us young line' again. (See Jacob Greber,"Immigration supports ageing population, RBA says." June 19, 2018.) If we were to apply logic, however, immigration keeps us older. It's not just because, when immigrants arrive, they are always older than Australians who are born here, aged zero - although that is true. The fact is that Australia never had a big problem with an aging population and what problem anyone has with 'aging populations' is self-solving, through death - as long as we do not keep artificially adding new people. Even in Europe, the baby-boomer bump will pass away around 2050, giving Europe a more natural demographic. If you want to see real aging population problems before they happen in Australia, consider the 'developing world' as its swollen youth cohort ages.
Artificial creation of large fertile cohorts creates huge problems
When you have a lot of young people, then you have a huge increased fertility. If those young people also live long lives, then both the population total and the population inertia are huge. You start to get problems of scale, scarcity and resource inflation (not to mention loss of natural spaces and increases in regulation and surveillance). You then get policy conflict between those who benefit from the resource inflation and those who have to pay for it. This is what we have now in Australia.
The 2nd world war baby boom followed mass access to cheap petroleum, which permitted the rise of the car and many marriages that would not have been possible without access to the new suburbia that cars serviced. This was a once-only event.
Trying to normalise the post war baby boom is demographically grotesque
Although the conditions of available land, and cheap petroleum and consumption per capita have changed, there has been a tendency, in governments that subscribe to growth economics, to try to prolong this situation by artificially extending the baby-boom as if it should or could be a demographic norm. They try to do this through mass immigration and by policies to stimulate fertility.
But, imagine if most people were young and only few people were old. That would require a continuous feed of babies, accelerating faster and faster, because the minute those babies were born, they would start aging! And, if you imported immigrants, well, all of those immigrants would be older than babies, since they would already be born, so you would have to import immigrants even faster in order to combat their higher age cohort.
Third world trajectory accompanies massive fertile cohorts
Impossible to imagine! Come to think of it, though, something like that has already happened in places like Africa, India and in some parts of Asia and the Pacific. And the same situation is being created in any country that has persistent mass immigration and or persistent high fertility - including in developed countries that are supposed to have had the ‘demographic transition’. (The demographic transition 'theory' never counts immigration.)
Real democracies tend to stabilise their populations
So, in my opinion, it is important to have only a small proportion of the population of fertile age. And I think that is what happens when you allow a population to self-govern, rather than imposing population growth somehow. After the 1789 French Revolution the French had a ‘demographic transition’ without any industrialisation (not supposed to happen). They did this by using contraception, even though there were more marriages and even though life expectancy increased and infant mortality decreased. This probably occurred, in part, because the power of the church waned and couples chose their family size according to what they wanted, rather than according to what the church had to say.
Today it is the power of the growth lobby over government that has replaced the church in 'developed countries' where mass immigration is imposed.
Growth lobby wants overpopulation
In Australia, America, and Canada, were it not for mass immigration, those populations would probably be a lot smaller, maybe close to stable numbers. In Continental Europe population growth has been much smaller than in the Anglosphere since the 1973 oil shocks - because immigration was greatly reduced in continental Europe whilst it was increased in the Anglosphere.
Continental Europe does not have the Anglosphere's growth lobby, although the European Union is trying to impose one by endorsing waves of informal migration from the countries where US-NATO bombing has destroyed large sectors of their economies.
I would like to add that the citizens of the European Union countries who are dealing with this influx should not be blamed for the wars that their governments maintain in the Middle East. It is the leaders of the European Union and the war industries who influence its policies who should be blamed and brought to trial.
These sociopathic policies appear to be the result of a gambling-like addiction to huge transactions in money and power in people of enormous wealth. If we the people do not bring these human behaviour abberations to heel, our suffering will be immense, as will the damage to our natural world and all things bright and beautiful.
Most people lack the basic education in arithmetic, geography and logistics to judge whether they are overpopulated, to compare population densities between regions, to factor in import and export, and, most importantly, to understand how waste-disposal requires natural 'services' or to understand that they are themselves, microbiologically, a part of nature, but that each one of us now is extended into a kind of per capita earth moving and processing factory for creating dead stuff. This article evolved from a response to a quora question and appears in its original form here: [https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-cause-of-illiteracy-on-overpopulation/answer/Astrid-Nova]
The importance of different land-tenure systems which do or do not promote growth lobbies
My research tells me that illiteracy on overpopulation is mainly due to the fact that the financial beneficiaries of overpopulation also control the mainstream/corporate press, which constantly tells people that population growth causes economic growth and that the problem is not ‘overpopulation’ but ‘lack of infrastructure’. This cause of illiteracy is most prevalent in the Anglosphere where the system does not penalise land-speculation and does not see population growth as a cost to the state, but as a way of profiting in the private sector - notably in the property development and upstream and downstream industries, including land-sales, mining for materials, construction materials sales, development and construction finance, real-estate, housing construction and sales, furnishing etc.
Non-Anglosphere systems (typically Roman Law ones with Napoleonic Civil Codes in continental Europe) tend to penalise this kind of ‘growth’ (really wealth transfer) because it represents a cost to the state, because there the state subsidises finance for and carries out most land development and construction, keeping prices relatively low in a smaller private sector. Therefore, in those Roman Law systems, you don’t have much of a ‘growth lobby’ because there is a lack of focused beneficiaries. In the 2008 financial crash, for instance, France suddenly got a big debt because its banks invested in the US subprime system, which did not exist in France itself due to the nature of France’s property development and housing system.
In the Anglosphere settler states with strong property development growth lobbies and mass immigration, the government members, public servants and the opposition members and political parties, tend themselves to have accumulated huge land-banks and property finance interests. Usually these are concealed in shell companies that donate to an intermediary company that donates to the political party. These beneficiaries of the growth lobby make laws to promote their investment interests. Corporations also invest in the property development and population growth lobby. The corporate press has property dot coms, so they promote these private interests and constantly tell the public that population growth is a great thing for the economy. Public broadcasting also promotes this. Although observant people can tell that the cost of living is going up all the time and that mortgages are out of reach for many wage earners and nature is being paved over, it is hard for those of us who pay for this population growth, rather than profiting from it, to organise. That is because the propaganda is so effective that people simply look away from the obvious, having been told that that is not the problem.
Education and information fail to provide necessary skills for charity or politicians to judge what is happening
Most people have come to accept the idea that population grows out of control everywhere because this has been taught to them at school, in the media, by churches, and by demographers, who are not really population theory experts, but just accept the numbers and calculate on trends. The growth lobby beneficiaries are so wealthy and organised that they are able to place people on charity and welfare boards and on public broadcasting boards and behave as if they are doing a charitable act by offering advice to invest in property and not to criticise high immigration.
My references are Sheila Newman: The Growth Lobby in Australia and its Absence in France, Swinburne University, Australia or academia.edu. Also Demography Territory Law: The Rules of Animal and Human Populations Countershock Press, and, Demography Territory Law 2: Land-Tenure and the Rise of Capitalism in Britain, Countershock Press.
Another reason that people cannot make sense of what is happening is that they cannot understand population sizes or population doublings arithmetically. See Albert Bartlett videos or find online a doubling rate calculator. This is a deficiency of the education and information system.
Population density and environment
People also tend to fall for questionable comparisons between population densities in places with radically different environments, such as comparing the low population density per sq km of Australia with the high density per sq km of Holland. This kind of comparison ignores differences in land fertility, climate and terrain, such as the fact that Australia is quite densely settled in the fertile parts but that 35% is hot, sandy, salty desert and another 30% is arid range land.
Food production logistics
People also are not taught to look at the logistics of food production: They would otherwise factor in the role of importation of food and materials from colonies or poor countries, which can make a big population viable in a small tertiary economy with little land. This problem is well-modeled in the Ecological Footprint diagram which you could find by search-engining the term.
Dangerous ignorance: Waste processing logistics and addiction
The logistics of waste remain inaccessible to governments, business and citizens, to our peril: A large proportion of the world has to be left for food and materials production; you cannot cover this with cities. There are two very important arguments for preserving a very large part of the world for biodiverse nature, both quality and quantity.
The first reason is that nature is our heritage and wonderful and valuable in its own right.
The second reason is thermodynamic. Life is the only thing that reorganises diffuse energy into systems. It does this when it consumes food and then reorganises it to fuel and replace living cells and to create new organisms, via reproduction. Although waste is created in this process, according to the laws of thermodynamics, it is biological waste.
Unlike other life-forms, human life, unfortunately, creates more dead and disorganised (non-living) stuff per person than its own total biomass. So, we need a large, functioning natural world to process our disorganised material and toxic waste.
This excellent slide-show analyses medical waste, but the components of medical waste are the same as for most waste.
We should not forget that we are a part of nature; we are composed of systematised cells and viruses that function as our cells and organs. No wonder that when we think about losing nature, we feel terrible. Except where we have become obsessed with the idea of power and wealth, which are forms of addiction. And all creatures can become addicted to substances and rewards that feed the sensation that they are increasing their power or territory to a magical degree that will make them capable of overcoming reality. Currently our global economic systems reward this kind of delusion.
This is why it was actually the duty of every media outlet from the Herald Sun to the 'quintessential progressive media double act of Fairfax and the ABC' to bring this conversation into the public realm. Bearing in mind that our cities will need to have a further 1.5 trillion dollars of infrastructure investment by 2045 just to keep up, this sudden interest from the ABC was, in fairness, a bit late in coming. Even Tony Jones acknowledged the sheer amount of concern that there is on this issue during a Q&A special on whether or not we are ready for a Big Australia.
So comparing all lefties who question our current rate of immigration with the kind of mindset that sparked the Cronulla riots is very problematic. The truth is that unless you are an advocate of open borders, there comes a point whereby everyone has a limit to what they think our annual rate of migration should be. In other words, according to Hildebrand, there comes a point whereby everyone becomes a racist.
Then there are those who do want to see a policy of open borders but that would do absolutely nothing to resolve the very issues that are pushing people to leave their homeland in the first place. In other words it does nothing to help the vast majority of people who, for one reason or another, would be left behind.
This is why a proactive measure such as foreign aid as opposed to a reactive measure such as unlimited migration can help communities on the ground to better manage their environment while providing increased access to education and family planning. That, in combination with much improved urban and regional planning at home, is the ONLY way that we can collectively reduce habitat loss and stabilise populations across the world.
So although Hildebrand is correct in saying that 'cutting the immigration rate to Australia does little to reduce the global population' it is nevertheless a massive oversimplification of a much more complex issue. When you consider that the world's population is growing by 80 million a year, immigration really is the least effective way of dealing with global population pressures.
Of course this is not to say that we shouldn't have immigration. Australia has a proud history of people moving to our shores from overseas and it really is something that we should be proud of. The good news is that we can continue to have a sizeable rate of migration because as Joe sort of points out, if we had no migration at all, our population would eventually start to decrease.
So at the very least we can have an annual migration intake of around 70,000 a year (which happened to be our long term average before John Howard came to power) and this would allow our population to start to level off over time. This means that we can continue to not only maintain our current rate of refugee intake but also be in a position to increase it if we ever decide to go down that path.
It would also buy us the time to play catch-up in terms of getting decent public transport infrastructure in place and crucially it would buy us the time to achieve the slower rate of development that comes with an increased focus on urban regeneration as opposed to mostly relying upon land releases on the urban fringes of our cities.
We are more than capable of innovating new ways to grow the economy without relying on population growth and it is simply untrue to assume that reducing migration will leave us with a skills shortage. As recently as March 18, Caroline Winter reported on the ABC that 'there are calls from the multicultural community for an internship program to be adopted to help skilled migrants get local experience, and a chance at work in their chosen field'. So it is clear that many migrants are not simply walking straight into jobs.
Make no mistake, the main reason why we have a high rate of immigration is not because we have a massive skills shortage, it is not because we are rescuing people from poverty, and it is not because we have an ageing population (we can easily innovate our way through that). It is because it boosts GDP and in the words of Joe Hockey, it is a lazy way of doing it. So it really is crucial that we keep this conversation going and resist the urge to label those who disagree with us with sweeping statements. Instead we all need to work collectively to find solutions that benefit Australia and the world as a whole.
The author, Mark Allen, is an environmental activist who has worked as a town planner. He is a member of Sustainable Population Australia.
Tonight, [Feb 18, 2018] I appeared on the ABC’s National Wrap to debate the Migration Council’s CEO, Carla Wilshire, on Australia’s mass immigration program. Below are notes from the debate explaining my position and refuting Ms Wilshire’s key lines of argument.
Economic modelling on immigration is unflattering and does not reflect real life:
During the debate, we got into an exchange over the purported economic benefits of immigration, as noted by the various Productivity Commission (PC) modelling.
Ms Wilshire argued the modelling shows unambiguous benefits to Australians because GDP per capita is increased, whereas I argued that incumbent Australian workers are made worse-off from falling wages (let alone broader impacts like congestion, higher infrastructure costs, smaller and less affordable housing, etc).
At the outset, it is important to note that economic modelling around immigration is inherently limited and often does not reflect real life.
First, it is generally assumed in these models that population ageing will result in fewer people working, which will subtract from per capita GDP. However, it is equally likely that age-specific workforce participation will respond to labour demand, resulting in fewer people being unemployed, as we have witnessed in Japan, where the unemployment rate is below 3%.
Even if this assumption holds true, the benefit to GDP per capita would only be transitory. Once the migrant workers grow old, they too will add to the pool of aged Australians, thus requiring an ever increasing immigration intake to keep the population age profile from rising.
Second, it is generally assumed that migrant workers are more productive than the Australian born population and, therefore, labour productivity is increased through strong immigration. However, the evidence here is highly contestable, with migrants generally being employed below the level of their qualifications, as well as having lower labour force attachment than the Australian born population (more information here).
Third, these economic models typically assume that immigration allows for either steady or increasing economies of scale in infrastructure (i.e. either assumes that population growth does not diminish the infrastructure stock; that bigger is always cheaper; or there is under-utilised capacity). At the same time, they completely ignore the dead weight of having to build more infrastructure each year, as well as the dis-economies of scale from having a bigger population, which necessarily makes new infrastructure investment very expensive (e.g. tunneling, land buy-backs, water desalination, etc).
Finally, and related to the above, these models ignore obvious ‘costs’ of mass immigration on productivity. Growing Australia’s population without commensurately increasing the stock of household, business and public capital to support the bigger population necessarily ‘dilutes’ Australia’s capital base, leaving less capital per person and lowering productivity. We have witnessed this first hand with the costs of congestion soaring across Australia’s big cities.
With these caveats in mind, what does the PC’s modelling on immigration actually say?
Well, the PC’s Migrant Intake Australia report, released in September 2016, compared the impact on real GDP per capita from:
Historical rates of immigration, whereby population hits 40 million by 2060; and
Zero net overseas migration (NOM), whereby the population stabilises at 27 million by 2060.
The PC’s modelling did find that GDP per capita would be 7% ($7,000) higher by 2060 under current mass immigration settings. However, all the gains are transitory and come from a temporary lift in the employment-to-population ratio, which will eventually reverse once the migrants age (i.e. after the forecast period):
The continuation of an immigration system oriented towards younger working-age people can boost the proportion of the population in the workforce and, thereby, provide a ‘demographic dividend’ to the Australian economy. However, this demographic dividend comes with a larger population and over time permanent immigrants will themselves age and add to the proportion of the population aged over 65 years.
The PC also explicitly acknowledges that per capita GDP is a “weak” measure of economic welfare:
While the economywide modelling suggests that the Australian economy will benefit from immigration in terms of higher output per person, GDP per person is a weak measure of the overall wellbeing of the Australian community and does not capture how gains would be distributed among the community. Whether a particular rate of immigration will deliver an overall benefit to the existing Australian community will crucially depend on the distribution of the gains and the interrelated social and environmental impacts.
It is worth pointing out that the PC’s modelling unrealistically assumed that Australia’s infrastructure stock would keep pace with the extra population, which is vital if economy-wide productivity is not to dimish:
Specifically, the expansion in labour supply through migration is projected to lead roughly to the same proportional growth in capital and output in most industries including infrastructure industries. That is, the modelling broadly assumes that there are constant returns to scale in production…
As the modelling broadly assumes that there are constant returns to scale in production, the economy-wide modelling results are broadly linear. Hence, while the modelling provides insight into the economic impact of NOM, in practice limits on Australia’s absorptive capacity (including environmental factors) mean that constant returns to scale are unlikely to hold for very high rates of immigration.
Clearly, this assumption is at at odds with the Australian economy’s ‘lived experience’, whereby massive infrastructure deficits have accumulated over the last 15-years of hyper immigration, particularly in the major cities.
Most importantly for incumbent Australian workers, the PC’s modelling finds that labour productivity and real wages are projected to decrease under current mass immigration settings versus zero net overseas migration (NOM):
Compared to the business-as-usual case, labour productivity is projected to be higher under the hypothetical zero NOM case — by around 2 per cent by 2060 (figure 10.5, panel b). The higher labour productivity is reflected in higher real wage receipts by the workforce in the zero NOM case…
With zero NOM, real wages are projected to increase over time, and at a rate greater than in the business-as-usual scenario. That is, in the zero NOM scenario labour is relatively scarce which puts upwards pressure on real wages and causes a substitution towards capital, contributing to the marginally higher labour productivity relative to the business-as-usual scenario (figure 10.5, panel b). Higher rates of labour force participation through immigration in the business-as-usual case is projected to moderate such wage pressures.
Therefore, according to the PC’s most recent modelling, high immigration improves per capita GDP by 2060 by boosting the proportion of workers in the economy, but this comes at the expense of lower labour productivity and lower real wages.
Moreover, beyond the forecast period (2060), the migrants will age and retire, thus dragging down future growth – classic ‘ponzi demography’.
As noted by the PC above, its latest modelling also did not take account of the distribution of gains to per capita GDP, which is vitally important. Thankfully, it’s 2006 major study on the Economic Impacts of Migration and Population Growth did, and the results were unflattering.
Here, the PC modeled the impact of a 50% increase in the level of skilled migration over the 20 years to 2024-25 and found that “the incomes of existing resident workers grow more slowly than would otherwise be the case”. Below is the money quote:
The increase in labour supply causes the labour / capita ratio to rise and the terms of trade to fall. This generates a negative deviation in the average real wage. By 2025 the deviation in the real wage is –1.7 per cent…
Broadly, incumbent workers lose from the policy, while incumbent capital owners gain. At a 5 per cent discount rate, the net present value of per capita incumbent wage income losses over the period 2005 – 2025 is $1,775. The net present value of per capita incumbent capital income gains is $1,953 per capita…
Owners of capital in the sectors experiencing the largest output gains will, in general, experience the largest gains in capital income. Also, the distribution of capital income is quite concentrated: the capital owned by the wealthiest 10 per cent of the Australian population represents approximately 45 per cent of all household net wealth…
To it’s credit, the PC’s Migrant Intake Australia report does go to great lengths to stress that there are many costs associated with running a high immigration program that are not captured in the modelling but are borne by incumbent residents and unambiguously lowers their welfare:
High rates of immigration put upward pressure on land and housing prices in Australia’s largest cities. Upward pressures are exacerbated by the persistent failure of successive state, territory and local governments to implement sound urban planning and zoning policies…
Urban population growth puts pressure on many environment-related resources and services, such as clean water, air and waste disposal. Managing these pressures requires additional investment, which increases the unit cost of relevant services, such as water supply and waste management. These higher costs are shared by all utility users…
Immigration, as a major source of population growth in Australia, contributes to congestion in the major cities, raising the importance of sound planning and infrastructure investment …governments have not demonstrated a high degree of competence in infrastructure planning and investment. Funding will inevitably be borne by the Australian community either through user-pays fees or general taxation.
…there will be additional costs for the community where environmental services that are currently ‘free’ have to be replaced with technological solutions…
Accordingly, the PC explicitly asks that these costs be considered as part of any cost-benefit analysis on the immigration intake, rather than blindly following the results of its modelling.
A prime example of these costs is infrastructure. In its Migrant Intake Australiareport, the PC pulls no punches about the higher cost of living imposed on incumbent residents from mass immigration, particularly in the big cities:
…where assets are close to capacity, congestion imposes costs on all users. A larger population inevitably requires more investment in infrastructure, and who pays for this will depend on how this investment is funded (by users or by taxpayers). Physical constraints in major cities make the costs of expanding infrastructure more expensive, so even if a user-pays model is adopted, a higher population is very likely to impose a higher cost of living for people already residing in these major cities.
This follows the PC’s warnings in 2013 that total private and public investment requirements over the next 50 years are estimated to be more than 5 times the cumulative investment made over the last half century:
The likely population growth will place pressure on Australian cities. All of Australia’s major cities are projected to grow substantially… In response to the significant increase in the size of Australian cities, significant investment in transport and other infrastructure is likely to be required… Total private and public investment requirements over this 50 year period are estimated to be more than 5 times the cumulative investment made over the last half century…
Similarly, in its latest Shifting the Dial: 5 year productivity review, the PC explicitly noted that infrastructure costs will inevitably balloon due to our cities’ rapidly growing populations:
Growing populations will place pressure on already strained transport systems… Yet available choices for new investments are constrained by the increasingly limited availability of unutilised land. Costs of new transport structures have risen accordingly, with new developments (for example WestConnex) requiring land reclamation, costly compensation arrangements, or otherwise more expensive alternatives (such as tunnels).
In short, there is little hope of achieving the level of investment required to sustain current levels of mass population growth, let alone an increase in the immigration intake to 250,000 (from 210,000 currently), as demanded by the Migration Council.
Overall, the PC’s economic modelling on immigration shows little (if any) material economic benefit to incumbent Australian residents. And once you add the various external costs not captured in the modelling (e.g. more expensive housing, more expensive infrastructure, congestion, and environmental degradation), the overall costs of mass immigration to ordinary Australians almost certainly outweighs the benefits.
Further information on why mass immigration is not in Australia’s interest is explained in MB’s submission to the federal government’s Migration Program review, which is reproduced below. (You can also download a PDF copy here – please share it around).
The Migration Council must believe in exponential population growth:
In responding to my claim that Australia’s NOM is running at triple the historical average, Carla Wilshire argued that when measured in percentage terms (i.e. the rate of growth), it isn’t actually that high and could be increased further. (Again, the Migration Council has lobbied for the immigration intake to be increased to 250,000 from 210,000 currently.)
In taking this line of argument, Ms Wilshire is being very loose with the facts.
First, as noted by the PC’s Migrant Intake Australia report, Australia’s immigration intake as a percentage of population (currently 1%) is very high by historical standards:
Second, and more importantly, it is not the immigration rate that matters for infrastructure, traffic congestion, or the environment, but rather the sheer numbers. Does Ms Wilshire honestly believe in exponential population growth? Because that’s what a stable immigration growth rate implies, which is clearly unsustainable [note: Australia’s current population growth rate in 1.6%]:
Figure 10 shows that under the ABS central forecast, in 2061 Victoria would have the same population as all of Australia had in 1960. In 2061 Queensland would have a larger population than all of Australia had in 1950. It is important to note that these are not the projections of the high growth scenario (Series A), but of the one that most closely matches current trends (Series B).
How much population is enough?
Migration Council is just another mass immigration lobby group:
During the interview, I claimed that the Migration Council’s economic modelling on immigration could not be trusted as it is a vested interest lobby group backed by big business.
Ms Wilshire responded angrily claiming that it was non-partisan and not-for-profit.
Since its inception, the organisation has lobbied strongly for a ‘Big Australia’ and for the immigration intake to be increased to 250,000 (from 210,000 currently).
It has also been chaired by pro-Big Australia business people and has stacked its board accordingly.
Andrew Jakubowicz, Professor of Sociology, described the formation of the Council in 2010 as follows:
The announcement of the formation of a Migration Council of Australia and its launch by the Governor General on August 1, confirmed by Department of Immigration and Citizenship official Gary Fleming at the Settlement Council of Australia conference in Adelaide in late June, marks a critical juncture in population and immigration policy…
The MCA wants to find a new space to assert the importance of migration and effective settlement, and has brought together some heavy hitters to make this happen. Headed by Peter Scanlon (ex Patricks Chair) – and bringing together Business Council of Australia chair Tony Shepherd, Australia Post head Ahmed Fahour, Ethnic Communities Federation chair Pino Migliorino, Adult Migrant Education Victoria head Catherine Scarth and a number of others – the organisation seeks to build a bridge between those with an economic interest in a big Australia, and those with a social interest in a fair Australia.
Scanlon has been a key figure in building an information base about immigration and settlement through his Foundation… He is also a major real estate developer and will come under scrutiny for how this new lobby group might create benefits for his commercial interests…
Peter Scanlon is a key leader of Australia’s ‘growth lobby’, and has a clear vested interest in mass immigration, as explained by John Masanauskas:
MAJOR investor and former Elders executive Peter Scanlon hardly blinks when asked if his conspicuous support for a bigger population is also good for business.
Mr Scanlon, whose family wealth is estimated to be more than $600 million, has set up a foundation with the aim to create a larger and socially cohesive Australia.
It also happens that Mr Scanlon has extensive property development interests, which clearly benefit from immigration-fuelled high population growth.
“My primary driver in (setting up the foundation) is if we don’t have growth we are going to lose all our youth because the world is looking to train people around the world,” he explains. “Instead of having stagnant growth, we’re going to have a serious decline.”
Mr Scanlon believes that governments aren’t doing enough to sell the benefits of a bigger population so he has put his money where his mouth is…
Peter Scanlon vacated the chair of the Migration Council in 2015 and was replaced by long-time mass immigration booster and Australian Industry Group CEO, Innes Willox, who was affectionately described last year by The AFR“as one of Australia’s top business lobbyists”.
Let’s not pretend that the Migration Council of Australia is impartial in the immigration debate. It is a stealth ‘Big Australia” lobbyist for the business sector.
On a side note, a quick look at the Migration Council’s modelling of immigration’s economic impacts reveals the following howler of an assumption: it “allows for economies of scale in infrastructure”.
You read that right. Their model ridiculously assumes that bigger is always cheaper and/or there is always under-utilised capacity. This flies in the face of the ‘lived experience’ of growing infrastructure bottlenecks and rising congestion costs, as well as increasingly complex and expensive infrastructure projects (i.e. classic dis-economies of scale).
I’ve already discussed these infrastructure issues above with respect to the PC’s modelling, so I won’t do it again. But clearly the Migration Council has chosen favourable assumptions to get a positive modelling result in support of its Big Australia agenda. Garbage in, garbage out.
Carla Wilshire admits a ‘Big Australia’ will lower residents’ living standards:
Finally, after spending the whole segment arguing that mass immigration will raise Australia’s living standards, Ms Wilshire tacitly admitted that, actually, living standards will fall for those of us living in Sydney and Melbourne:
“…congestion in Sydney and Melbourne is undoubtedly getting to a point where a significant investment in infrastructure is going to have to happen. In fact, one could argue that point was some years back…
One of the ways that we are going to have to solve that problem is decreasing the per capita cost of investment in infrastructure. And migration is part of that solution…
And in some senses it is also about an acceptance that the way in which these two cities function, and the way in which we live in these two cities, is going to change over time. It’s going to be much more about apartment living. It’s going to be much more about public transport. And it’s going to be much more about sustainable cities”…
Only in the Bizarro World of the Migration Council do you solve an infrastructure deficit by adding millions more people. And only in the Migration Council’s world does having to live in shoebox apartments, suffering from greater congestion, as well as making everyone consume less of everything, just so we can make room for mass immigration, equate to higher living standards.
Submission to the Department of Home Affairs’ Managing Australia’s Migrant Intake Review
At MacroBusiness we support immigration, but at sustainable levels.
Australia’s immigration levels are too high – higher than our cities can absorb. The infrastructure costs of high immigration are excessive and Australia’s infrastructure supply is not keeping up with demand, despite our best efforts.
The economic arguments frequently used to justify high immigration fail the evidence test. Empirical data does not support mass immigration. Excessive immigration also damages Australia’s employment market and the environment.
It is time for an honest debate.
Currently, Australia’s immigration program is overloading the major cities with tens of thousands of extra people each year to stoke overall economic growth (but not growth per person) and to support business (e.g. the property industry and retailers), despite growth per person stagnating.
Meanwhile, individual living standards are being eroded through rising congestion costs, declining housing affordability, paying more for infrastructure (e.g. toll roads and water), environmental degradation, and overall reduced amenity.
The economic evidence for the above is contained in this submission.
The Australian Government needs to stop ignoring these issues. Australia’s living standards are at stake.
MacroBusiness urges the Australian Government to reduce Australia’s immigration intake back towards the historical average of around 70,000 people per annum.
1. Australia’s immigration program is unprecedented:
One of the most profound changes affecting the Australian economy and society this century has been the massive lift in Australia’s net immigration, which surged from the early-2000s and is running at roughly triple the pace of historical norms (Chart 1).
In the 116 years following Australia’s Federation in 1901, Australia’s net overseas migration (NOM) averaged around 73,000 people a year and Australia’s population grew on average by around 180,000 people.
Over the past 12 years, however, Australia’s annual NOM has averaged nearly 220,000 people a year and Australia’s population has grown on average by 370,000 people.
The principal driver of Australia’s population increase has been the Australian Government’s permanent migrant intake, which has increased from 79,000 in 1999 to nearly 210,000 currently, including the humanitarian intake (Chart 2).
Due to this mass immigration ‘Big Australia’ policy, Australia’s population has expanded at a rate that is more than 2.5 times the OECD average, easily the fastest of advanced English-speaking nations (Chart 3).
This rapid population growth is expected to continue for decades to come, with the Australian Government’s Intergenerational Report projecting population growth of nearly 400,000 people a year – equivalent to one Canberra – until Australia’s population reaches 40 million mid-century (see Chart 1 above).
However, the problem with Australia’s mass immigration policy is not just the extreme volume, but also the concentration of migrants flowing to Australia’s largest and already most overcrowded cities.
As shown in Chart 4, around three quarters of Australia’s NOM has flowed to New South Wales and Victoria, principally Sydney and Melbourne:
In the 12 years to 2016, Melbourne’s population expanded by nearly 1.1 million (30%), while Sydney’s population expanded by 845,000 (20%). There was also strong growth in Brisbane (537,000) and Perth (502,000) (Charts 5 and 6).
The migrant influx helps to explain why dwelling price growth has been strongest in Sydney and Melbourne, and why housing is most unaffordable in these two cities (Charts 7 and 8). While the Australian Government and property lobby likes to blame a ‘lack of supply’, the problem rests primarily with excessive demand from mass immigration.
The chronic problems around housing and infrastructure will only get worse under the current mass immigration policy.
State Government projections have Melbourne’s population expanding by 97,000 people each year (1,870 people a week) and Sydney’s by 87,000 people each year (1,670 people each week) for the next several decades until both cities’ populations hit around 8 million people mid-century.
To put this population growth into perspective, consider the following facts:
It took Sydney around 210 years to reach a population of 3.9 million in 2001. And yet the official projections have Sydney adding roughly the same number of people again in just 50 years.
It took Melbourne nearly 170 years to reach a population of 3.3 million in 2001. In just 15 years, Melbourne expanded by 34% to 4.5 million people. And the official projections have Melbourne’s population ballooning by another 3.4 million people in just 35 years.
No matter which way you cut it, residents of our two largest cities will continue to feel the impact of this rapid population growth via: traffic gridlock; overloaded public transport, schools, and hospitals; pressures on energy and water supplies; as well as more expensive (and smaller) housing.
It is a clear recipe for lower living standards.
2. No economic bonanza:
Politicians and economists frequently claim that maintaining a ‘strong’ immigration program is essential as it keeps the population young and productive, and without constant immigration, the population would grow old and the economy would stagnate.
For example, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has stated previously that “anyone who thinks it’s smart to cut immigration is sentencing Australia to poverty”. In a similar vein, former KPMG partner and “unabashed supporter of a bigger Australia”, Bernard Salt, has produced reams of articles warning that Australia faces economic and fiscal catastrophe without ongoing strong immigration.
Economic models are often cited as proof that a strong immigration program is ‘good’ for the economy because they show that real GDP per capita is moderately increased via immigration, based on several dubious assumptions.
First, it is generally assumed in these models that population ageing will result in fewer people working, which will subtract from per capita GDP. However, it is just as likely that age-specific workforce participation will respond to labour demand, resulting in fewer people being unemployed, as we have witnessed in Japan, where the unemployment rate is below 3%.
Even if this assumption was true, the benefit to GDP per capita would only be transitory. Once the migrant workers grow old, they too will add to the pool of aged Australians, thus requiring an ever increasing immigration intake to keep the population age profile from rising.
Indeed, the Productivity Commission (PC) has for more than a decade debunked the myth that immigration can overcome population ageing. For example, in its 2010 submission to the Minister for Population, the PC explicitly noted that “substantial increases in the level of net overseas migration would have only modest effects on population ageing and the impacts would be temporary, since immigrants themselves age”.
Academic demographer, Peter McDonald, has also previously stated that it is “demographic nonsense to believe that immigration can help to keep our population young” .
Second, it is generally assumed that migrant workers are more productive than the Australian born population and, therefore, labour productivity is increased through strong immigration. However, the evidence here is highly contestable, with migrants generally being employed below the level of their qualifications, as well as having lower labour force attachment than the Australian born population (more information here).
Third, economists and their models generally ignore obvious ‘costs’ of mass immigration on productivity. Growing Australia’s population without commensurately increasing the stock of household, business and public capital to support the bigger population necessarily ‘dilutes’ Australia’s capital base, leaving less capital per person and lowering productivity. We have witnessed this first hand with the costs of congestion soaring across Australia’s big cities.
Moreover, the cost of retro-fitting our big cities with infrastructure to cope with larger populations is necessarily very expensive – think tunnelling and land acquisitions – with costs borne largely by the incumbent population. This fact was explicitly acknowledged by the PC’s recent Shifting the Dial: 5 year productivity review:
“Growing populations will place pressure on already strained transport systems… Yet available choices for new investments are constrained by the increasingly limited availability of unutilised land. Costs of new transport structures have risen accordingly, with new developments (for example WestConnex) requiring land reclamation, costly compensation arrangements, or otherwise more expensive alternatives (such as tunnels)” .
Finally, while economic models tend to show a modest improvement in real GDP per capita, the gains are more likely to flow to the wealthy, whereas ordinary workers are made worse-off.
In 2006, the PC completed a major study on the Economic Impacts of Migration and Population Growth, which modelled the impact of a 50% increase in the level of skilled migration over the 20 years to 2024-25. The modelling found that even skilled migration does not increase the incomes of existing residents. According to the Commission: “the distribution of these benefits [from skilled migration] varies across the population, with gains mostly accrued to the skilled migrants and capital owners. The incomes of existing resident workers grow more slowly than would otherwise be the case” .
Of course, there are other costs borne by incumbent residents from immigration that are not captured in the economic modelling, such as worsening congestion, increased infrastructure costs, reduced housing affordability, and environmental degradation – none of which are given appropriate consideration by politicians nor economists.
Adding a Canberra-worth of population to Australia each and every year – with 80,000 to 100,000-plus people going to Sydney and Melbourne – requires an incredible amount of investment just to keep up. Accordingly, Australia’s infrastructure deficit has fallen badly behind over the past decade, and will continue to do so under Australia’s mass immigration program, thus eroding residents’ living standards.
3. Empirical data does not support mass immigration:
While the economic models might show small per capita gains from immigration-fuelled population growth, based on faulty assumptions, the actual empirical evidence shows no link between population growth and prosperity.
Since Australia’s immigration intake was expanded in the early-2000s, trend GDP per capita growth has plummeted to recessionary levels, suggesting falling living standards (Chart 9).
Chart 10 plots the growth in GDP per capita versus population change between 2000 and 2016 across OECD nations and shows no correlation (Australia denoted in red):
Meanwhile, there is a slight negative relationship between labour productivity and population growth (Chart 11):
Whereas there is zero correlation between population growth and multifactor productivity across OECD nations:
A recent study by economists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) also found “that even when we control for initial GDP per capita, initial demographic composition and diﬀerential trends by region, there is no evidence of a negative relationship between aging and GDP per capita; on the contrary, the relationship is signiﬁcantly positive in many speciﬁcations” (Chart 13).
There is also evidence to suggest that mass immigration is partly behind Australia’s trade and current account deficits, as well as the nation’s ballooning foreign debt.
The lion’s share of Australia’s export revenue comes from commodities and from Western Australia and Queensland in particular (Chart 14):
However, the majority of Australia’s imports and indeed private debt flows to our biggest states (and cities), New South Wales (Sydney) and Victoria (Melbourne). Sydney and Melbourne also happen to be the key magnets for migrants (see Charts 4,5 and 6 above).
Increasing the number of people via mass immigration does not materially boost Australia’s exports but does significantly increase imports (think flat screen TVs, imported cars, etc.). Accordingly, both New South Wales and Victoria have driven huge trade deficits as the extra imports have far outweighed exports (Chart 15):
All of these extra imports must be paid for – either by accumulating foreign debt, or by selling-off the nation’s assets. Australia has been doing both.
Australia would improve its trade balance and current account deficit, as well as reduce the need to sell-off assets and binge on debt, if it simply cut immigration.
Australia will ship the same amount of hard commodities and agriculture regardless of how many people are coming in as all the productive capacity has been set up and it doesn’t require more labour.
4. Lowering immigration would raise wages:
Hand wringing over Australia’s anaemic wages growth (Chart 16) hit fever pitch recently, with politicians, economists and media all searching for answers.
One cause that has received scant attention is the role caused by mass immigration in driving-up labour supply and reducing the bargaining power of workers.
Employer groups often argue that a strong ‘skilled’ migration program is required to overcome perceived labour shortages – a view that is supported by the Australian Government. However, the available data shows this argument to be weak.
The Department of Employment’s 2016-17 Skills Shortages report revealed that Australian skills shortages “continue to be limited in 2016-17”, and that there are a high number of applicants per job (Chart 17):
The Department of Employment also revealed a record number of Australians studying at university (Chart 18):
Of whom many graduates cannot gain meaningful employment (Chart 19):
The Australian Bureau of Statistics’ labour force data also shows that Australia’s underutilisation rate remains high, especially for Australia’s youth, despite the recent improvement in the labour market (Chart 20).
Curiously, Australia’s permanent skilled migrant intake is significantly higher today (128,550) than it was at the peak of the mining boom in 2011 (113,850). Why? Unlike then, labour shortages are “limited”, wages growth is running near the lowest level on record, and labour underutilisation is high. What is the economic rationale for running the highest permanent migrant intake on record when economic conditions do not warrant it?
Standard economic theory claims that net inward migration has minimal long-term impact on wages. That is, when the quantity of labour increases, its price (wages) falls. This will supposedly increase profits, eventually leading to more investment, increased demand for labour, and a reversal of the initial fall in wages. Immigration, so the theory goes, will enable the larger domestic population to enjoy the same incomes as the smaller population did before.
However, a recent study by Cambridge University economist, Robert Rowthorn, debunked this argument. The so-called ‘temporary’ effects of displacing incumbent workers and lower wages can last for up to ten years. And if there is a continuing influx of migrants – as is the case in Australia – rather than a one-off increase in the size of the labour force, demand for labour will constantly lag behind growth in supply .
In other words, if the Australian Government was to stem the inflow of foreign workers, then workers’ bargaining power would increase, as will wages growth. It is basic economics.
As noted in April last year by The Australia Institute’s chief economist, Richard Denniss, the very purpose of foreign worker visas is to “suppress wage growth by allowing employers to recruit from a global pool of labour to compete with Australian workers”. In a normal functioning labour market, “when demand for workers rises, employers would need to bid against each other for the available scarce talent”. But this mechanism has been bypassed by enabling employers to recruit labour globally. “It is only in recent years that the wage rises that accompany the normal functioning of the labour market have been rebranded as a ‘skills shortage'” .
Australia’s youth is effectively caught in a pincer by the Australian Government’s mass immigration program. Not only does it hold down their wages, but it also inflates their cost-of-living via more expensive housing (both prices and rents).
5. It’s time for a national debate and population policy:
The Australian Government under both the Coalition and Labor has long supported mass immigration and a ‘Big Australia’ on flawed economic grounds.
Behind the scenes, the ‘growth lobby’ of retailers, the banking sector, the property industry and erroneously named ‘think tanks’ all push the growth-ist agenda, while completely ignoring the cost burden on ordinary residents.
At the same time, many on the left pursue the globalist agenda of ‘open borders’ citing spurious social justice concerns.
Currently, there is no coherent plan other than to inundate the major cities with extra people each and every year to stoke overall economic growth (but not growth per person), to support big business (e.g. the property industry and retailers), and to prevent Australia from going into recession (despite growth per person stagnating).
Meanwhile, individual living standards are being eroded through rising congestion costs, declining housing affordability, paying more for infrastructure (e.g. toll roads, water and energy), environmental degradation, and overall reduced amenity.
Never have Australians been asked whether they want a population of 40 million-plus mid-century. Nor whether they want Sydney’s and Melbourne’s populations to swell to eight million mid-century.
Yet immigration and population growth affects every facet of Australian life, including: how long one spends stuck in traffic; whether one can get a seat on a train or a spot in hospital or school; and/or whether one can afford a good sized home within a decent commute to where one works. It is a key determinant of living standards above all else, yet is rarely questioned by the media nor politicians.
Without mainstream political representation on this issue, divisive elements like Pauline Hanson’s One Nation party have emerged to wrongly use the ills of overpopulation to attack the small number of refugees arriving in Australia, as well as Muslim and Asian immigration.
As this submission has shown, there is strong justification to reduce Australia’s permanent migrant intake back to historical levels primarily by slashing skilled migration, which has been the driver of the influx. This would take the strain off the major cities, put a floor under wages growth, and safeguard Australia’s environment.
Australia could achieve such immigration cuts without affecting its global obligations via the humanitarian migrant intake. Indeed, much of Australia’s 130,000 strong permanent skilled migrant intake comes from countries where skills are more desperately needed than in Australia. Australia’s immigration program is depriving these countries of skills, and we have a moral obligation to limit the brain drain.
More broadly, Australia desperately needs a national debate and a population strategy, led by the Australian Government. The Government needs to conduct a population plebiscite asking Australians how big they want the nation to become, and then set immigration policy accordingly. The Australian Government also needs to provide a comprehensive plan detailing how and where it will accommodate all the extra people, while safeguarding incumbent residents’ living standards.
With NSW’s (read Sydney’s) population growing at a break-neck pace (see below chart), last month it was revealed that there was a revolt underway from within the NSW Liberal Party against the federal government’s mass immigration program and over-development across Sydney (watch video).
With NSW’s (read Sydney’s) population growing at a break-neck pace (see below chart), last month it was revealed that there was a revolt underway from within the NSW Liberal Party against the federal government’s mass immigration program and over-development across Sydney (watch video above).
The most important quote from the video was the following:
“Government MPs have all told me the same thing: Sydney is full. They believe the federal government needs to have a difficult conversation about curbing immigration or it simply will not be possible to keep up”.
Now the revolt has spread to Sydney’s long suffering residents, with more than two-thirds of those surveyed declaring “Sydney is full” and off limits to further mass development. From The SMH:
With plans for hundreds of thousands of apartments in the city’s “priority precincts” over the next 20 years, the ReachTel poll conducted for Fairfax Media shows 66.4 per cent of NSW residents oppose more development in existing areas to accommodate a bigger population…
Significantly for the Coalition government, 61.7 per cent of Liberal supporters believe Sydney is full… Of Labor voters, 68 per cent are opposed to more development in existing areas…
The results will fuel tensions over the Greater Sydney Commission’s plans, spilling into the upper echelons of the NSW government…
The Greater Sydney Commission, established last year to lead on planning and development issues and chaired by former Sydney lord mayor Lucy Turnbull, says the city will need about 725,000 extra homes over the next 20 years to accommodate a growing and ageing population.
Sydney’s population is expected to grow by about 1.74 million people by 2036…
On Sunday, a spokesman for [Planning Minister Anthony] Roberts said… the population was increasing because people were living longer, more children were being born and more people were moving to NSW due to it having an economy that was “the best in Australia”.
The last paragraph is the funniest. It pins Sydney’s break-neck population growth on everything but the actual driver: the federal government’s mass immigration ‘Big Australia’ program, which massively ramped-up Australia’s immigration intake from the early-2000s to around 200,000 people annually:
The NSW Government’s own population projections show that Sydney’s population will increase by 1.74 million people (1,650 people per week) to 6.4 million over the next 20-years, with 1.53 million of this growth (1,473 people per week) coming from net overseas migration:
Sydneysiders are not stupid. They know that extreme immigration-fueled population growth is destroying their living standards, with roads, public transport, schools and hospitals all crush-loaded and housing becoming hideously expensive.
The NSW Liberal ministers are right to revolt, as is the electorate. But they need to take the fight to the federal government, which is driving the mass immigration ‘Big Australia’ agenda, and demand that it immediately halve Australia’s immigration intake back to sustainable historical levels.
Van Badham, the author of an insulting Guardian piece against Dick Smith, (Thursday 7 September 2017) parades the usual cliches about 'educating women' to deal with population growth, despite the obvious fact that although women in Australia still have relatively high rates of literacy, our population just keeps growing faster and faster. Not because Australian women are having huge families, but because mass immigration from overseas contributes 60% of Australia's population growth. How is education going to fix that, Ms Van Badham? [16 September 2017: See new footnote #5.]
Most people in Australia and the rest of the Anglosphere are educated to believe in a sort of chronological continuous improvement, which they know as 'progress'. This 'progress' explanation is used to excuse all kinds of costs imposed by change. (We also hear, 'Change is good'). But much coercive and costly change is caused by catering to overpopulation and overdevelopment, and both these ills are engineered by powerful people. Over the last 20 years in Australia, the mainstream media has represented the growth lobby by pushing rapid population growth as an economic norm, as an inevitable demographic fact, and has played its only card - the race card - against the many more rational objections.
Rent a troll
With the rise of the internet, the beneficiaries of engineered population growth use crowds of trolls to defend these costs and the growth lobby's excesses on the internet, so that when critics of rapid population growth go to 'progressive' sites that push growth, they will get all kinds of flack. The trolls are designed to frighten questioners away. People should not be misled to believe that the nasty attacks on people who question population growth are sincere - they are too similar and irrational to be spontaneous - but they do need to be countered.
A recent and gross example have been a majority of comments on an article, "I get why you're angry, Dick Smith. The ABC ignores my ideas all the time," in The Guardian (Thursday 7 September 2017) about Dick Smith's ad against massive population growth. You can see these comments here: https://www.facebook.com/theguardianaustralia/posts/1487301447971603. Many are grossly defamatory. [Revisiting the site two days later, I discover that, thankfully, many of these awful comments have been unpublished by The Guardian.] The article itself, although it is apparently by a professional journalist, is sarcastic, coarse, superficial and ageist, characterising Smith as sexist, a white man abusing his traditional privilege, an elderly xenophobe having a 'brain fart'.
Female education in Australia
The author of this gratuitously insulting piece, Van Badham, then parades the usual cliches  about 'educating women' to deal with population growth, despite the obvious fact that although women in Australia have relatively good (if deteriorating) educations, our population just keeps growing faster and faster. Not because Australian women are having huge families, but because mass immigration from overseas contributes 60% of Australia's population growth. How is education going to fix that, Ms Van Badham?
Don't let the facts stand in the way, Ms Badham
Immigration is a factor totally ignored by the so-called Demographic Transition 'theory'. Speaking as a population scientist, I would say that Dick Smith is on the right track and Ms Van Badham is ignoring 60% of the equation. However you will find that most Australian 'population experts' - read professional 'demographers' and friends of the growth lobby - also fall for the Badham arithmetic mistake, although they are all more mathematicians and economists than scientists. They fall for it because they do not test it and they do not read around it or anything not produced in English.
Outside the Anglosphere bubble
It was to educate people with open minds that I translated Etienne Van de Walle's: “French fertility in the 19th century,” which you can read here: /node/4247. Van de Walles was not the only French population historian and demographer to write about how France had 'its demographic transition' before industrialisation, right after the Revolution. The Anglosphere is known for ignoring theories that question its own tenets, however, so no-one hears about it.
One brave American population historian, Paul G Spagnoli, dared to write about this strange turning away from scientific method in the Anglosphere, which is so dominated by political and economic ideology. You can read his paper, "The unique decline of mortality in revolutionary France,"(1997) here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11619481. Almost no-one paid attention to this eminent bilingual historian's significant analysis, because it did not suit the anglosphere bias.
Anyone talking population needs to know this
Seuil, France also published a multi-article review by population theorists which included Dupâquier and other notables, as Communications, 44, 1986. Dénatalité : l'antériorité française, 1800-1914., (1986). The meaning of the title is "Fall in the birth rate: the French precedent, 1800-1914." There was both a fall in the birth rate and a fall in mortality, at the same time as there was a rise in marriages, a fall in age of marriage, and a decline in never-marrieds! Why? Well, the French used contraception - but they didn't need the pill; they used the sheath, withdrawal, and various pessaries. Contraceptives have been known forever, but using them demands a will to do so. In the 19th century, as the state cracked down on use of contraceptives because they wanted more soldiers for war, bands of French activists went round the country selling them and teaching people how to use them, especially poor people in cities. (See Francis Ronsin, La Greve des ventres, Aubier, France, 1980.)
Prior to the French Revolution, France's population was either stable or grew very slowly.  Although forms of contraception have been available extending back into ancient history, this Ancien Regime population stability is thought to have been due to a different kind of population control, where quite high percentages of people never married, never had children, and where the average age of marriage was quite high (over 25 yrs old). People who did marry and have children averaged above 5 children and life expectancy was low, with many children dying in infancy.
The natural fertility myth and endogamy
The French demography historians, such as Jacques Dupâquier (who calls it a myth) and Henri Leridon, also question the so-called 'natural fertility' concept which Anglosphere demographers believe is demonstrated by the extreme fertility of the Hutterites. See, Bardet and Dupâquier, "Contraception: les Francais les premiers, mais pourquoi?" in the abovementioned Dénatalité : l'antériorité française, 1800-1914. Dupâquier and others refer to the power of endogamy in determining fertility opportunity. The French and most tribal people before colonisation, globalism, and the car, were endogamous. That is, they lived in villages (the equivalent of clans or tribes) where only rarely did anyone marry far beyond the village or tribe. Because of the small range of population numbers within a village or tribe this meant that, like a small game of musical chairs, not everyone would find a marriagable partner, either because they were too strongly related or because all possibles were already married or because they were outside their social class (homogamy).
Another brake on fertility was that lack of housing or a good income made people less attractive as marriage partners.
Transport and the Post-WW2 Baby Boom
The advent of relatively cheap cars brought about a sudden jump in the marriage and birth rates in many countries because people could live in new houses in places that had previously been too far from work and ammenities and they found employment in the post war fossil fuel economy. Hence more people became marriagable. This was called the "Baby Boom." Trains had also made a difference to employment opportunities and the viability of living in once out of the way places. Boats early brought marriagable strangers closer. Planes exploded trans-ocean marriage/fertility opportunities. The latest accelerator of marriage and fertility opportunity is probably the internet which permits romances that are detached from real circumstances.
Colonisation, industrialisation and war accelerate population growth
However the problem of mass immigration remains an accelerant of population growth that is rarely acknowledged, although those who make open borders policy know it well. They just don't talk about it. Just think of how colonisation and war, by exploding endogamous traditions and driving people from their historic villages and tribal lands to cities in search of work has affected India, China, Africa, the Middle East ... Think how it has affected Australia - once occupied by a much smaller lighter footprinted population for 60,000 years. How much difference will the wars pushing people from Africa and the Middle East and the politicians inviting them to enter Europe's almost stablising population make? How much more will the globalisation of everything and open borders accelerate all populations and anihilate all diversity?
About the author
The author of this article, Sheila Newman, is an evolutionary sociologist specialising in population, environment and energy resources. Relevant to the theory expressed here, she has published, Demography, Territory, Law: The Rules of Animal and Human Populations, Countershock Press, 2012 See peer reviews and explanation here) and Demography, Territory, Law 2: Land-tenure and the origins of capitalism in Britain, Countershock Press, 2014 and she is currently working on the third volume in series, Demography, Territory, Law 3: Land-tenure and the origins of democracy in France. Her major thesis in Environmental Sociology, which included oil economics, was The Growth Lobby in Australia and its Absence in France, 2002. For where to buy these see her bio here: /node/1882
 [My translation]: "In researching factors to explain differences in fertility between different states in India, two authors proposed analyses based on the same methodology, multiple regression, focusing on each state. Zachariah and Patel (1984) concluded that a small number of socioeconomic variables (with the level of education achieved by women at the top) explained 91% of variation in birth rates. Jain in 1985 concluded in a similarly convincing fashion (explaining 90% of variation) that it was due to three major variables: age at marriage, infantile mortality, and use of contraception. Thus, each one could boast of having identified the key variables to Indian fertility, but both lists of variables were completely unrelated! We can understand why: both lists were not independent and the socioeconomic variables identified in the first article affected the variables taken into consideration in the second. Source: Henri Leridon, "Théories de la fécondité : des démographes sous influence ?", Population 2015/2 (Vol. 70), p. 331-373. DOI 10.3917/popu.1502.0331, pp. 336-337.
 Henri Leridon, "Théories de la fécondité : des démographes sous influence ?", Population 2015/2 (Vol. 70), p. 331-373. DOI 10.3917/popu.1502.0331, pp. 334, 'Not theories but ideas.'
 Under the direction of the School of Higher Studies in Social sciences - Centre of Transdisciplinary Studies (Sociologie, Anthorpologie, Politics).
 John Knowles (Lead author), Report, "History of Birth Control Methods," Katharine Dexter McCormick Library and the Education Division of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, 2012, http://www.plannedparenthood.org/files/2613/9611/6275/History_of_BC_Methods.pdf
 Note from Sheila Newman 16 September 2017: I originally wrote that the population of the Ancien Regime 'was also stable for a couple of centuries'; I am ammending this to take into account a revised opinion in France, which is that the population may have grown very slowly. Also, after the French Revolution, France's population did grow, of course, despite a lower birth rate, because of the reduction in the death rate, the increase in marriages and the decrease in celibacy. I have not yet adequately researched whether the role of immigration in increasing growth rates was significant during the Revolution. Note that most documents of the Ancien Regime (such as they were) were lost during the French Revolution and estimating population size during that time, and growth, is not very reliable. With regard to the recent ammendment from two or more centuries of population stability (rather non-growth, due to huge demographic crises such as recurrent epidemics, wars and famines (famines were often related to wars and the depredations of soldiers on local food crops) to 'slow growth'; it is difficult to find the origin of this 'recalculation' and one wonders if it was not a political or a population-theory decision where, on a basis that the leap from estimates of 18-20 or 22m French until 1750 seemed too sudden compared to the first modern census of 1801, which found 29,361,000 people in France. The alternative to this would be to re-guess the population of France under the Ancien Regime at around 25 or even 27 million. This would then run up hard against the 18m estimated by Vauban at the end of the 17th century. That estimate was based on poll taxes by household.
This article is about the real reason why the medicare rebates don't cover the cost of doctors' services and therefore why the practice of general medicine is increasingly unsatisfactory for doctors and patients.
I was inspired to attempt this article by a letter just published in the Age because it articulated my own concerns. The only thing it lacks is that it fails to give the principle reason for the very high costs of running a medical practice.
It is particularly galling that Labor has adopted the catchcry "Save Medicare". Apparently Medicare is sacred and untouchable. This attitude prevents any possibility of the reform that it desperately needs. It is also galling that Labor is spruiking that the removal of the freeze on rebates will allow GPs to keep bulk billing and this will "save Medicare". The current rebate for a standard GP consultation lasting up to 20minutes is $37.05. Without the freeze, the rebate would be around $39 and by mid-2018 around $40. If GPs had to depend on such paltry amounts for their incomes, Medicare would have died a long time ago.
The truth is that GPs who do not see a patient every six minutes can continue to bulk bill by supplementing their incomes with various care plans, health assessments, home medicine reviews, case conferences, practice incentive payments etc. These processes allow GPs to generate a reasonable income, but there has never been proof that they improve health outcomes. The lowly consultation rebate, frozen or not, encourages GPs to manufacture incomes from these dubious methods. Some, dare I say it, "dodgy" doctors do more than their fair share of "dodgy"' care plans.
The most important 15 minutes in the health system is the consultation with GPs. It must be valued appropriately so that GPs can take a patient's history, examine them and think about a treatment plan that avoids the current blowout of follow-on costs in investigations and referrals. Medicare must be reformed. Neither Labor nor the Coalition have the honesty and courage to do this. It is more complicated than Labor's puerile and disingenuous sloganeering suggests.
Dr Philip Barraclough, Highett
Why do medical practices cost too much to run?
I'll give you a hint. It's not the insurance costs.
A couple of years ago I went for an interview at a GP clinic in an inner suburb of Melbourne, in the region of Armadale or Toorak. It was explained to me that the practice tried to limit the amount of time spent with patients and to make up costs by running various electronic, self-evaluating programs, to diagnose various mental health issues, such as depression. The hard-faced GP interviewing me was keen to tease out any tendency I might have to spend time on supportive or other psychotherapy and it didn't take him long to detect these.
"That might be alright for a GP practising in the outer suburbs," he sniffed, "But there is no way we are going to cover costs here and make a profit by spending time with patients. Our mental health nurses here have got it down to a fine art. They use self-evaluation forms as a way of interacting therapeutically with the patients and then they use the same forms for their reports. Personally I think you may be a little too one-to-oneish for this practice."
I needed the job, so tried to sound very flexible on these issues, but he wasn't fooled. He asked me whether I had any political philosophy and, before I could answer, he told me that I really should get familiar with Ayn Rand. He was the first person I have ever met, outside a novel, with the exception of some 'counter-culture' heroine addicts in the 1980s, who had ever expressed any open approval of this writer. I had heard that Rand's 'objectivist' philosophy had enjoyed a resurgence with US and other neocons, but I admit that I was shocked to find her lurking in a Melbourne GP clinic. I guess that made me naive, however, if I knew my GP was an avid fan of Ayn Rand, I would run a mile!
But, anyway, the thing that most interested me about this job interview was the acknowledgement that the cost of rental and real-estate in Australia, particularly within the inner suburbs, was so prohibitive that a doctor wishing to succeed simply could not afford to spend time with patients and, furthermore, artfully deployed gimmicks and electronic questionnaires to take the place of proper physical and mental examinations and treatment.
Because the major cost of doing business in Australia is the cost of land and rents. A business-owner must pay for two premises: the one he or she sleeps in and the one they do business at. Furthermore, they must pay their staff high enough wages for their staff to be able to afford Melbourne's high rentals and house prices. Australia has some of the highest land prices in the world and that goes a long way to explain why small and medium business enterprises so frequently fail. It also explains why Australian manufacturing is in decline and unable to compete with overseas products which do not have nearly as high costs. And high land prices drive up the cost of everything else, including power and water. Even insurance goes up because it must meet this inflation.
And it explains why medicare rebates are no longer adequate to cover patient visits and why GPs practically give you the bum's rush out of their offices almost as soon as you enter, why they won't let you tell them more than one thing that is wrong with you, and why they won't take time to discuss their diagnosis, and why their diagnosis is so often wrong!
Service quality probably increases with distance from the city as the land and rent costs diminish. Maybe some city GPs tak refuge in Ayn Rand in order to rationalise their increasing exploitation and degrading of social capital in an effort to make ends meet.
Whose fault is it?
And whose fault is this? It is the fault of the growth lobby, which has succeeded in raising immigration rates so high in Australia that there is permanently rising inflation of land-prices. Both major political parties and the Greens are responsible parts of this lobby. The first two have massive investments in land-speculation and financing. The Greens utterly refuse to say anything against the engineering of massive population growth in Australia.
It was a hot night and twelve of us approached an impressive spread of endangered sea-creatures at a large table under cover outside. It was Don's birthday party. We had met him a few months ago at the local squash courts, and we only recognised four of the other guests, also squash players. I looked around me carefully. Would we all get on and have a laugh, reach furious agreement on something important, or would my friend and I be silenced in the face of others’ opinions in our effort not to make waves? Worse, would my friend open his big mouth? Unlike the 'old days' when it was so exciting to meet new people, on this particular evening I was plagued with doubt because of the strong political divides that are appearing in Australian society.
You may be wondering why I would approach this seemingly ordinary and benign situation with what appeared to be almost dread, or you may, to the contrary, have experienced a similar dinner.
I have thought about why I was so uncharacteristically shy about talking to new people and here is my explanation.
Winners and losers
Some of you may remember the 1990s. This was when I noticed that the concept of “winners and “losers” came into the vernacular. I remember at the time, a teen-aged friend of a friend declaring with great assurance that the world was divided into “winners" and “losers" and nothing in between. I remembered thinking with unease that this was a very unattractive, inhumane ideology.
Twenty years later, this young lady seems to have been right in practice! Australia is no longer a country where we earn our respective livings by being useful to other people and to the society in exchange for a fair reward. Now everything is so polarised with some making a killing in the 'right' industries with others just getting the crumbs and struggling with unfriendly working hours in low paid pointless jobs which did not exist thirty years ago.
It did not take long into the dinner conversaton before I had a feeling that I was sitting down to dine with some of the 'winners' that the intervening years had produced and that I might not like how they had come to win.
The first disturbing declaration, quite early in the evening was from 'Travis'. His shaved head and bling-cufflinks reflecting the light from the charcoal patio-heater, Travis told all assembled that he made his pile by helping with websites to assist overseas buyers to purchase property in Australia. "How lovely” most murmured in appreciation of his entrepreneurship. He also added that he assisted business /entrepreneur migrants to get their visas to enter Australia. Once more there was a generally appreciative and admiring response from those present. I remained silent as I was overcome with the certainty that I was dining with the enemy. This person was helping people from overseas to exploit Australia and to make housing unaffordable for locals, I thought! To me this is a disservice to the community. This braggart was making himself a “winner" at the expense of all the poor “losers” especially young first home buyers.
Travis then got onto the subject of possums and how none of us would want to know what he had "done with some of them”. His cruel remark revolted me and I felt almost panic stricken! This opportunist was not only cheerfully assisting the overpopulation and densification which displaces urban possums, he was further (and illegally) punishing the hapless marsupials.
How did I end up at the same dinner table as this monster?
When social capital still punched above greed
I guess, thirty years ago, unimaginative and insensitive creatures like Travis would have found their own level in ordinary jobs on modest salaries. Today's system, however, is geared to making winners out of those for whom the money ingredient is everything.
A drink or two later, pleasant looking Bernice offered her opinion on the negligence of the current state Labor government in not building a particular controversial toll road. Yes, she declared , Melbourne would need this toll road as we will soon be a city of 7 million. There was not a hint of regret at all that Melbourne would lose in this transition even from the overgrown chaotic, under- serviced, dysfunctional metropolis of 4.5 million that it is now. My throat was now so constricted that I failed to chime in that if we keep going at the current rate of growth we will be 20 million in a few decades. Actually that wouldn’t have fazed others present as one of them was from London, an already a bloated megalopolis.
I prudently remained silent but was inwardly seething as I was thinking of all that would be lost with new road following new road road to accommodate ever increasing traffic in a vicious circle but never managing to do so.
This same woman further warmed to her topic. “I think Melbourne should be more like Dubai.” she declared. “In Dubai they just go ahead and build things! They get on with it and don’t get bogged down in red tape, do they Roger?” Roger joined his wife in commending the way things are done in Dubai and asking rhetorically why Melbourne could not be more like it.
Why did they care so much? I wondered, but I knew if I started an actual discussion, that we would come to blows.
I am grateful for any red tape that remains in Melbourne that gives those affected some slight chance to fight back against the destruction of their surroundings, especially from multi-storey developments and other infrastructure to cater for never-ending population growth.
I checked my phone to see the time and nudged my friend under the table. “Can we go home now!” I wailed inwardly!
These people would have been OK (apart from the possum sadist) had I met them in a different era, but now, in this era of winners and losers, I actually identify more with the losers and am out of place at a dinner party where people have done well out of the prevailing system.
We said good night and left the party, emotions churning at this near perfect demonstration of the increasing and undesirable divisions of wealth in our society. It reminded me of visiting a banking friend in Indonesia years ago, when we dined with friends of the then government. At the time it was like visiting some laughably unselfconcious members of an exotic corrupt power-elite, but the same kind of corrupt values are now reaching further and further down into Australian society and it isn't amusing close-up.
The globally unique and lovable Carnaby's Cockatoo exists only in the South West of WA. They are a totem for Noongar people and a part of our shared cultural and natural heritage. But the cockatoos are endangered and we are at risk of losing them forever.
Instead of helping the cockatoos to recover, the State Governments own analysis shows the Government's Green Growth Plan would further drastically reduce the population of these beautiful birds, intelligent, social and long-lived birds.. By locking in the clearing of thousands of hectares of bushland that the birds rely on, numbers of these already rare birds would be reduced by half and the long-term survival of the population would be placed in question.
While the State Government has hailed this Plan as a great environmental initiative, the grim reality is that it will result in the deaths of thousands of cockatoos through starvation as their vital food sources are bulldozed to make way for more unsustainable urban sprawl.
Mention in your submision that we don't need the massive human population growth, or urban sprawl, and there's nothing "green" about it.
Please visit: https://ccwa.good.do/cockatoos/stopcockatoodisasterplan/"& and see candobetter.net's other pages on the Carnaby's cockatoo and previous efforts to save it in Perth - which these plans will wreck.
The Curse of the British invasion lives on?
"The Noongar people saw the arrival of Europeans as the returning of deceased people. As they approached from the west, they called the newcomers Djanga (or djanak), meaning "white spirits".#cite_note-5">#cite_note-6"> There were a number of reasons for this. Firstly their white complexion reminded the Noongar of corpses; their unclean odour of early 19th century Europeans was said to resemble the dead; the fact that the ships arrived from the west, the direction of Kuranup, the setting sun location of the soul in traditional beliefs;#cite_note-7"> the fact that Europeans seemed to have no memory of kinship relations; and that Noongars who associated closely with Europeans were apt to die from European diseases over which Aboriginal people had little resistance, supported this claim."
And the devastation continues at an ever greater pace. We must stop this industrial savagery and civilise ourselves.
“So, increasing the population – fast population growth and poor planning – they’re like a vicious circle. When I worked as a planner, I’d go to VCAT and, quite often, development applications would be turned down by councils and the developer’s argument would be, ‘I know, ideally, this isn’t the best place to build this development, but you do know that Melbourne’s population is going to double by 2040-something and so, therefore, we’ve got to start building high-density in areas where we wouldn’t normally build it, because, you know, unless we’re just going to sprawl outwards forever…’. But both are going to happen, so we’ve got to understand that rapid population growth and developers who are making sure that they’re taking control of the planning system - they’re intertwined.” Mark Allen, former planner, of Population, Permaculture and Planning in a speech at the Sustainable Living Festival in Melbourne, 14 February 2016.
Mark Allen of Population Permaculture and Planning asks: Is it possible to accommodate a growing population without unacceptably high density living and urban sprawl? If so, what rate of population growth should we be looking at and what types of community should we be creating? This workshop discusses the merits of village style living in combination with permaculture principles and asks the question, where do we go from here?
APop or The Australian Population Institute http://www.apop.com.au/, is an organisation put together by developers and other members of the growth lobby to promote a 'big Australia' - that is, a huge population in Australia. APop campaigns for higher and higher immigration and also for policies for bigger families. Although almost entirely officiated by members from industries driving the growth lobby, the organisation has hosted talks by high profile and credible-sounding people, like university lecturers or authors, which added cachet to their big Australia agenda. The ABC used to quote them a lot as though they were a disinterested demographic organisation, but seems to have stopped doing this in past few years, perhaps due to complaints about APop's growth agenda affecting its objectivity, but perhaps more likely due to a decline in APop activities.
See http://www.apop.com.au/news.html At first APop seemed to be the peak growth lobby developer body, with branches in all or most states, but the Property Council of Australia appears to have taken over the baton as the ultra peak body. However, APop is still in there with a fascinating cast of growth lobby stars with fingers in property development pies at all levels. I have attached a picture of the current APop front page, followed by some information about the industry backgrounds of Committee members. Note that there are quite strong links with the Scanlon Foundation which itself has strong links to ATSE and to the Multicultural Foundation of Australia and thence to most recent prime ministers and opposition leaders. APop in 2009 hosted Professor Andrew Markus, who "presented "Mapping Social Cohesion 2009: The Scanlon Foundation surveys". The presentation provided an overview of the Scanlon Foundation survey findings, with particular attention to change over the last two years and to the challenges facing maintenance of a large immigration program. "
Backgrounds of Current Executive and Committee members Victoria and South Australia :
Jane Nathan (President) - author of many pro growth articles
Michael Hickin botham, Vice President, Hickinbotham Group - South Australia's (SA), describes itself as "the largest and longest established building group in South Australia."
Albert Dennis, (Past President) Dennis Family Corporation - major developers, builds suburbs
Greg Crafter, Johnston Withers Solicitors
Douglas Coomes - Spiire Australia Pty Ltd, Land Development consultants
Chris McNeil, Economist and former Policy Director with Urban Development Institute of Australia, UDIA (Victoria)
Frank Bosco, Director Bosco Jonson, town planners
Tony Fry, Scanlon Foundation see: http://candobetter.net/taxonomy/term/1179
Brenton Gardner, Housing Industry Australia
Jim Curnow, Alexander & Symonds, Surveyors
Tim Jackson, Chief Executive Officer, City of Playford, South Australia
Origins of APop
"The Committee for Economic Development of AustraliaCEDA Conference, November 1999, inaugurated the Australian Population Institute (APop), a group with the sole purpose of promoting a big Australian population. Apop seems to be mainly composed of business people involved in the property development industries. Altogether nine papers were delivered in favour of, or neutral about, population increase, including that of the key speaker, Professor Withers. Without in any way impugning the sincerity and disinterest of the academics involved, Tom Morrow points out in Growing for Broke, that Apop - composed of businessmen with a vested interest in maintaining high population growth - thus benefited from the cachet of academic disinterest, whilst only airing one point of view. Morrow also criticises the lack of an ecological perspective." (Source: Sheila Newman, The Growth Lobby in Australia and its Absence in France
 This information was yielded by investigating the business associations of the officials of Apop as listed on the Apop website and downloaded on 20/7/2001 from http://www.apop.com.au/people.htm. Additional information about business interests was obtained from the Business Who's Who of Australia, Dun and Bradstreet Marketing P/L, 35th Edition, 2001.
 Tom Morrow, Going for Broke, Tomorrow Press, 2001, p.109
 Ibid.,"Five of the papers were delivered by university professors, two by PhDs, one by a Federal Cabinet Minister and one by a Shadow Cabinet Minister: impeccably qualified commentators, all - and none of them directly from the corporate sector that was hosting the event."
Video and transcript inside: Dr Karen Hitchcock: "My core message is that we really need to think about our ageing population as a triumph and really rethink what it means to be old and what it's possible to do when you're elderly. Most elderly people are not sick, most of them are not in nursing homes, but I think we can do a lot more to integrate elderly people back into our communities and try and reimagine what it is that we want our communities to be. I think we need to start from an ethical perspective of what we want our community to be, and then from that, imagine our society and then find ways to create it and fund it, rather than starting from an economic position." Congratulations to the 7.30 Report, Karen Hitchcock and Quarterly essay for criticising the appalling depiction and treatment of Australia's elderly, implicitly and explicitly advocated by the growth lobby in the mainstream media and government. See, for instance, "Should Jeannie Pratt and Elisabeth Murdoch downsize to high rises in Activity Centers to give young people more room?" The negative message about the elderly has been so overwhelming that most of us find it exhausting to fight. The ABC has often also carried this message uncritically. Perhaps it took a woman-led news commentary program - the 7.30 Report - to try to break this mould. Dr Karen Hitchcock (who is a staff physician in acute and general medicine at a large city public hospital) is a very effective ambassador for the elderly, although she is a young woman herself. Her work deserves our collective support and promotion.
Discussion on our ageing population and their use of the healthcare system is sending older Australians a message that they're a burden to society, suggests a physician at a major public hospital in Victoria, Karen Hitchcock.
LEIGH SALES, PRESENTER: By 2050, about five per cent of Australia's population will be over the age of 85, with many of us expected to live to our mid-90s. The challenges of the ageing population are something we've been hearing a lot about in the past couple of weeks, since the Federal Government released its Intergenerational Report. The message is that more old people and falling budget revenues are going to put a huge strain on our health and welfare systems. But now one doctor is raising concerns about the way we're discussing the ageing population. She believes we're sending older Australians a message that they're an intolerable burden.
Karen Hitchcock is a staff physician in acute and general medicine at a major public hospital in Victoria and she's written the latest issue of the Quarterly Essay. It's entitled Dear Life: On Caring for the Elderly, she joined me from our Melbourne studio.
Karen, we've been talking a lot recently about the economics of health care as the country deals with an ageing population and declining budget revenue. When you listen to economists and politicians talk about the ageing population and the growing pressures on the budget and sustainability and so on, as a doctor, what do you hear?
KAREN HITCHCOCK, PUBLIC HOSPITAL PHYSICIAN & AUTHOR: What I hear is that the fact of our ageing population is an overwhelmingly negative development. The elderly are portrayed as being a burden on their families and on the state and a drain on the economy.
LEIGH SALES: And what message do you think that the elderly hear?
KAREN HITCHCOCK: Oh, I think that they've completely internalised this message that they're a burden. I see evidence of this every day on my hospital ward. Patients, elderly patients apologise for being sick, for being in hospital, for taking up a hospital bed that should be apparently for somebody else.
LEIGH SALES: How does that translate then in terms of the type of care that they want?
KAREN HITCHCOCK: Well, I think that sometimes it can mean that they feel reluctant to accept the care that they need.
LEIGH SALES: Like, give me an example of, say, a patient where you've seen that.
KAREN HITCHCOCK: Um, well, I've - there's a lot of patients, but recently I looked after an elderly gentleman who said that he wanted to die and that he didn't want to be in hospital and that he was a nuisance and when I sat down and talked to him, it turned out that his wife had recently died, his dog that was his remaining companion had died and he felt that he had no place in society anymore and that he was a burden.
LEIGH SALES: And so how, as a doctor, did you address that?
KAREN HITCHCOCK: I called him a couple of weeks after he left hospital, given that he had said he never wanted to come back to hospital, just to try and work out a plan for him and he said to me that he says silly things when he's sick. Of course he wants to come back to hospital and that he was very, very happy because he'd managed to get another dog, go back to his part-time work.
LEIGH SALES: What's your attitude towards advanced care directive, which are documents that people sign giving instructions about the sort of treatment that they would like if they're faced with potential end-of-life issues, which of course is often things that older people sign?
KAREN HITCHCOCK: They're being heavily promoted at the moment as something that should be universally adopted and I think that they do have a place, particularly if people have advanced malignancy and are going to die imminently or particularly when people have particular treatments that they don't want to have. But I think that saying that every single citizen in Australia should have an advanced care directive is dangerous and I think that to say that they're unambiguously good sort of relies upon an understanding of the human subject that is breathtakingly simplistic. People change their mind. It's very difficult for us to know how we're going to feel as we become increasingly dependent and debilitated. I mean, my grandmother, for example, she was a fiercely independent woman who, in her 80s, developed a lung disease that meant eventually she was house-bound and oxygen dependent. And if someone had've asked her a year prior to that development whether or not she would rather die or be house-bound and oxygen dependent, she definitely would have said she'd rather be dead. But when it came down to it, she was very happy with her life. She still had her family. She said that she would play in her memories. She was very happy to be alive.
LEIGH SALES: So if you see this idea that we are giving elderly people the impression that they're a burden as being a problem, how would you like to see the debate around some of these issues and the discussion reframed?
KAREN HITCHCOCK: Well I think that our focus should be on how can we improve the life of our elderly patients, not that we should be so keen to offer them death.
LEIGH SALES: And so, practically, how would you go about doing that?
KAREN HITCHCOCK: Um, I think that we - it would be really helpful if we could somehow integrate medical and social services so that we can encourage elderly people to remain independent and in their communities. If we could somehow integrate services and offer preventative treatment before people need to come to hospital, that would be a really great development and there are international examples of care programs like this where there are community-based, what's called medical homes, that are staffed by GPs and specialists and full allied health to enable people to stay in the community longer and to stay well and independent.
LEIGH SALES: How about the interaction between nursing homes and hospitals, how well does that work?
KAREN HITCHCOCK: It works very poorly. Many elderly people come to hospital as a result of medication side-effects, having too many tablets or etc., and they come to hospital, we stop their tablets and they're discharged back to their nursing homes and they have to continue on the tablets that they were on prior to coming to hospital, sometimes the tablets that caused them to come to hospital, until they can get a doctor to come to the nursing home and rechart their medicine.
LEIGH SALES: You are a busy doctor, yet you've taken the time out to write this lengthy piece of work around these issues. What is the core message that you're hoping to get out there based on your experience working in hospitals?
KAREN HITCHCOCK: My core message is that we really need to think about our ageing population as a triumph and really rethink what it means to be old and what it's possible to do when you're elderly. Most elderly people are not sick, most of them are not in nursing homes, but I think we can do a lot more to integrate elderly people back into our communities and try and reimagine what it is that we want our communities to be. I think we need to start from an ethical perspective of what we want our community to be, and then from that, imagine our society and then find ways to create it and fund it, rather than starting from an economic position.
LEIGH SALES: Just before you go, Dr Hitchcock, there's been a lot of discussion around this week about sexism in medicine. A senior surgeon raised some concerns around the issue of sexual harassment and whether or not raising that impacts on female doctors' careers. Just in your experience, do you think that there is a problem in medicine with sexism?
KAREN HITCHCOCK: I've obviously not worked with every doctor in every hospital in Australia and I'm sure there are individuals. However, one thing I do know is that there is certainly not a pervasive culture of sexism in medicine. I've never been discriminated against because I'm a woman in medicine. In fact I've been enormously supported and encouraged.
http://wombatawareness.com/2015/02/UPDATE 26-02-2015 - The millionaire bequest fell through! Brigitte and the wombats of South Australia are now facing a truly awful situation. She has set up a donation site in absolute desperation, no amount too small: https://www.chuffed.org/project/wombatssoontobehomeless and we hope our readers will spread this news. No-one else is helping the wombats in SA on a large scale and long term; wombats are starving, dying of mange and being killed by cars and farmers. As you know they are adorable and precious... and really worth saving. Thanks for any help.
The strange and unforgivable decline in wombat appreciation in the 20th century
The reputation of the wombat declined over the 20th century and is now at an unforgivable all time low. People may be interested to read "Rossetti's Wombat: A Pre-Raphaelite Obsession in Victorian England". This lecture by Harold White Fellow, Angus Trumble, at the National Library of Australia, Canberra, 16 April, 2003, gives a little-known history of wombat appreciation in Britain by 19th century poets, who called the wombat "the most beautiful creature of all". Here is a quote from a description written about 200 years ago, about a pet wombat which was taken to England (not that we approve the kidnapping of wombats to England):
"The wombat, burrowed in the ground whenever it had an opportunity, and covered itself in the earth with surprising quickness. It was quiet during the day, but constantly in motion in the night: was very sensible to cold; ate all kinds of vegetables; but was particularly fond of new hay, which it ate stalk by stalk, taking it into its mouth like a beaver, by small bits at a time. It was not wanting in intelligence, and appeared attached to those to whom it was accustomed, and who were kind to it. When it saw them, it would put up its forepaws on the knee, and when taken up would sleep in the lap. It allowed children to pull and carry it about, and when it bit them did not appear to do it in anger or with violence."
Whilst we do not approve of kidnapping wombats, we do approve the peaceful and positive interaction with them and wonder why it does not happen more frequently in Australia. Perhaps it is because we have been misled by our governments and education system to believe that they are unapproachable. Maybe this is another case for Gloria O'Possum to investigate.
Wombat Awareness Organisation Ltd., Research Conservation Education Rescue Unit
A hairy-nosed wombat community at Portee Station where this rare and persecuted animal is being rehabilitated and protected.
The site of the Wombat Awareness Organisation Ltd., Research Conservation Education Rescue Unit tells the rest of the 20th and 21st century story and that is where to go to purchase a little piece of outback Australia for the wonderful hairy-nosed wombat. Here is a delightful film (link has been updated to new address)about this wombat refugee community in South Australia, run by Brigitte Stevens and her partner, Frank Mikela. It certainly bears out the earlier reputation of the wombat as a lovable and cuddly animal.
It is great to see a big effort being made to help wombats and the people who care for them with such dedication.
UPDATE September 21, 2010Millionaire bequest due in 12 months - but money urgently needed now
Brigitte Stevens still needs funding urgently, but urgently only for another 12 months or so, when the release of the first million dollar installment of an $8m bequest is scheduled to come through. Only recently has the news arrived that a US horse-racing millionaire has left to this organisation for wombats!
He was shown the shameful conditions in which the South Australian government's laws and wildlife monitoring have reduced the wild population.
"I took him out into the wild population and showed him wombats with mange, wombats that were starving to death and wombats with burrows from motorbike tyres," she said.
Brigitte has another paid job just to pay the bills the organisation generates. According to Kim Wheatley's article, last year's vet fees amounted to $70,000. Now Brigitte hopes to buy two new properties and to run a 24 hour free veterinary advice clinic.
Ms Stevens - who works to help pay bills, including last year's $70,000 vet fees - wants to buy two properties in the Murraylands and run a 24-hour free vet advice phone clinic. But she is having trouble simply maintaining the Wombat Awareness Organisation at the minute, since the first installment of this bequest is still a long way off - around 12 months.
Please consider helping these kind and dedicated people to make it through to the time this windfall arrives.
There is a theory to explain how unpopular and costly policies survive in a 'democracy' when the benefits are focused among a few people who can organise to protect those benefits, whereas the costs are diffused among many people thus difficult to recognise and organise against. This theory explains why 80 % of Australia does not want population growth for good reasons like the cost of housing and the wrecking of the environment, but we still have it because the Growth Lobby makes billions of dollars (not just millions) out of it. (See Chapter 5 of Sheila Newman, The Growth Lobby and its Absence.)
The cartoon illustrates this, as an organised and wealthy rent-collecting Growth Lobby Inc. swoops with a helicopter, while people look around them, confused about what’s happening.
Is Australia governed by morons? Australia preaches about the Asian Century but behaves like the 18th Century British colonists who originally invaded Terra Australis. If Australia understood what it means to be Asian it would realize that most Asian countries have predominantly indigenous populations. For example, Indonesia, China, Japan, Korea, Myanmar, Thailand and the Philippines to name but a few.
None of these countries run mass migration programs like Australia’s. Australia leads the world in this category. Asian countries are not selling off their assets and housing to foreigners like Australia does; while crying crocodile tears about carbon emissions as they rapidly expand their fossil fuel exports to pay for population growth that the country cannot afford. With one of the highest costs of living of any country the annual growth of the Federal Budget combined with growing Government debt far exceeds the capacity of the growing economy to finance.
Asian populations grow at varying rates, depending on the level of development and the rates of natural births and deaths. None of these countries subject their people to mass migration as a tool to drive GDP growth in irrational contempt for the social, environmental and economic consequences.
If China used mass migration at the same rate as Australia's, it would be flooding the country with over 16 million migrants per year. China's reported population growth rate is 0.6% per annum. Australia's deliberately engineered population growth rate is 1.8% per annum.
Australia is a dishonest, hypocritical country built on a lie that government media fully supports while it preaches about humanity and the environment.
The death cult of Migration Assured Destruction is alive and well in Australia. Even the US example of how to screw up a country is not enough to educate Australia’s ruling class. This is a unique recipe for a cock up.
The argument that population growth is inevitable is as defeatist as the argument that the human race must destroy itself together with the environment that supports it.
The 20th century saw the developed world set the example of fossil fuel consumption for the developing world to follow. Now, in the 21st century, Australia insists on continuing to set the example of ridiculous and unsustainable, migration-based population growth as an example of how underdeveloped countries should behave once they have developed?
The premise of most demographic gurus is that population growth will slow as developing countries become wealthy. If that is true, then why does Australia deliberately drive population growth rates as high as those of some of the most underdeveloped areas of Africa and roughly 4 times the OECD country average? It certainly isn't about prioritising refugee intake.
Australia is an insult to the intelligence of most Australians. The primary responsibility for this reckless stupidity lies with both Government and its tool the ABC; both of whom are beyond the control of the Australian people.
There is no democracy in Australia when it comes to open public policy debate of population growth management and maximising Australia's potential to act humanely and sustainably both at home and abroad. It's just not up for discussion; and that is the essence of what Australia's autocratic "death cult" is all about. Cut philanthropic aid at home and abroad and destroy the environment; all in the name of profit - otherwise misdescribed as "economic growth".
For example, the Ukraine is geopolitically important for many reasons; including its value as a food bowl and as an export route for oil and gas. The Ukrainian people are secondary to the interests of the foreign powers that seek to influence or control the territory and its resources.
The current turmoil in Syria and Iraq has been preceded by French and British military intervention respectively in the early 20th century, combined with imposition of new territorial borders. This was arguably an autocratic foreign assault on the region. People subject to somewhat arbitrarily defined borders have different histories and different vested interests little understood by the foreign autocrats. The same was true of the foreign assault on Australian Aborigines when their territory was first invaded in 1788. Have a look at any capital city in Australia. There are "Boundary Roads" everywhere.
#comments">Armchair experts #comments">sit around hypothesising about what should or should not be done, based on their subjective versions of humanitarian and strategic principles. Many know little of the history of the regions they discuss and use terms such as "democracy" and "territorial borders" to define right and wrong.
In Australia in particular, neither the Government nor the people have the ethical credentials to justify interference in geographically remote regional conflicts.
#AED1FF;font-size:92%;hyphens:auto;line-height:120%;">... the economic impacts of extreme population growth are not investigated in the public interest.
Australia is a country founded upon the principles of invasion and dispossession of "indigenous" peoples. That foundation remains the cornerstone of government policy to this day. It is an autocratically imposed policy that has nothing to do with democracy. This "invasion" does not prioritise humanitarian intake. In its current form it focuses on attempting to cherry pick healthy and relatively wealthy, educated people for their alleged "financial" value; at the expense of refugees.
#AED1FF;font-size:92%;hyphens:auto;line-height:120%;">... politicians don't even question a policy that many other countries would regard as outlandish.
Government media seeks to justify a government policy of invasion and dispossession in the interests of something it vaguely refers to as economic growth, although the economic impacts of extreme population growth are not investigated in the public interest. Politicians control decision-making on what lines of public inquiry deserve due diligence. Mass migration has always been the "robot-mode" status quo in Australia and politicians don't even question a policy that many other countries would regard as outlandish.
Between 1788 and 1900 Australia's population rose to 3.7 million. From 2002 to 2014 it rose another 3.8 million. This invasion is accelerating. This is extreme, unsustainable, Government imposed, amoral, financially motivated "developed world" population growth.
The ABC is not governed by any laws that can be enforced to hold it accountable for failing to comply with its Statutory Duties of impartiality and integrity. ABC agendas appear set by politicians rather than by analytical thinking.
The ABC's approach to the climate change debate has been the ABC–branded Carbon Tax debate, analogous to a doctor advising a patient that the only therapy for treatment of obesity is exercise (economic incentives to reduce carbon emissions), while encouraging the patient to eat fattening food (extreme population growth driving extreme emissions growth) from a company the doctor owns. The doctor also deliberately conceals the fact that eating is the primary cause of explosive weight gain.
#AED1FF;font-size:92%;hyphens:auto;line-height:120%;">The ABC's approach ... has been analogous to a doctor advising a patient that the only therapy for treatment of obesity is exercise, while encouraging the patient to eat fattening food from a company the doctor owns.
So we have a lawless, government sanctioned, propaganda machine purporting to act as a humane and democratic voice of the people, while failing to address some of the most pressing moral and environmental issues in Australia. Population growth stands out as an issue of critical importance.
#AED1FF;font-size:92%;hyphens:auto;line-height:120%;">NASA abused its position of dominance by prioritising a political desire for launch [of the Challenger] over competent risk management.
The Challenger Space Shuttle disaster occurred in similar circumstances. The Solid Booster Rocket seals failed causing a catastrophic explosion because NASA approved the launch at an unacceptably low ambient temperature in full knowledge of the risk. The 7 astronauts killed in the explosion were not informed of the risk.
NASA abused its position of dominance by prioritising a political desire for launch over competent risk management.
#AED1FF;font-size:92%;hyphens:auto;line-height:120%;">The ABC ... uses opinionated bias as a basis for concealing critically important information from public policy debate.
The ABC is a news and current affairs broadcaster. It has limited, if any, expertise in the sciences or in risk management. Yet it uses opinionated bias as a basis for concealing critically important information from public policy debate. Whether that bias is driven by Government or the ABC itself is immaterial. It is clearly contrary to the public interest and it is defined as unlawful, if not criminal, by the ABC Code of Practice.
The relationship between the adverse humanitarian, social, environmental and economic outcomes of population growth and the rate of that population growth is off the ABC agenda.
#F5F6CE;line-height:120%;">The latest propaganda inundation to force people to accept overpopulation as a fait accompli is coming from the so-called "Bradfield Oration",1 which is to be inaugurated by that mass-media propaganda horn, Australia's Prime Minister, Tony Abbott. The University of Sydney and Lend Lease have been described as 'key partners' in this 'initiative'2 which will steer university students their way by awarding an associated prize. So much for independence in academia, eh?
The current publicity machine anoints some architect from New York to tell Australians how to suck eggs for their greedy masters.2 Vishann Chakrabarti is being used to frighten the people of Sydney with a "build up or else" and to market the idea of selling air-space to developers so that they can build the residential towers residents have been fighting for generations. This concept of selling airspace is obscene in the context of human rights as well as Australian values of freedom and nature accessible to all. Australia's self-appointed leaders are in the business of making everything for sale by privatising all natural rights and resources. They should be put on trial for this as a criminal conspiracy to advantage a few at the expense of the many citizens whose taxes they abuse for their own ends. Unfortunately they also make the laws.
“If you don’t plan, those folks in Western Sydney will have their worst nightmares come true,’’ Chakrabarti told The Daily Telegraph, threatening that Sydney "would also struggle to create good jobs and fall behind East Asian cities like Hong Kong and Shanghai".
That is the awful benchmark our enemies who call themselves our leaders seek to impose on the rest. It is indeed our worst nightmare, to compete with Hong Kong and Shanghai. Only psychopaths like warlords and corporate landlords would wish such a nightmare on Australians. Good leaders would lead us against it.
Bad leaders stand on a rubbish heap of trashed human rights
How could any self-respecting media dignify such authoritarian drivel as the basis of planning policy? Is this what inevitably happens in a capitalist system that privileges bullies and psychopaths by making them rich enough to dominate the public messaging system? If it cannot be made democratic then we can only hope the system will be brought down. The sole reason most of those talking up development and population growth are even heard is that they stand astride a skyscraping rubbish-heap of trashed human rights which they have helped to bury through land-speculation on an industrial scale.
The mass media that purveys this propaganda and invests in real-estate, keeps any dissenting views to a whisper. The ABC follows suit in a conspiracy to protect the beneficiaries of propaganda. Australians hate what is happening, but because so many still rely on the mainstream media to understand what is happening and to represent their views, they fail to connect on the ground and therefore fail to organise. Most people reading these transparent propaganda tracts marketing population growth and infrastructure explosion as inevitable must feel alone in their horror.
Chakrabati is also reported to have said that the selling of airspace to highrise developers is, “a very viable model as areas around train stations are very, very valuable.’’ Fighting highrise development above a local station was where Marvellous Melbourne came into being, with the help of Planning Backlash. Marvellous Melbourne sought to publicise what the speculators who have taken over our government had planned for Camberwell Station, in Melbourne, Victoria. As well as the imposed massive changes to the local visual and experienced environment, there was the abrogation of democracy of local residents. The situation has since greatly deteriorated with VCAT, the Victorian Court system, now imposing impossible costs on citizens to prevent them from exercising self-government.
Coming up from the wings in the two party fixed horse race #fnAirSpace3" id="txtAirSpace3">3 towards impossible living conditions is the growing unaffordability of land-rates. As well as driving up rental costs, elderly residents innocently living in homes they bought and paid for decades ago, find that rates based on speculative land-values are pulling them into debt at a time of life when wages and pensions do not keep up with the related inflation. And it is not just the elderly, young renters and young home-owners face lifetimes of enslavement to debt with little prospect of retaining equity in purchased property as these costs rise.
Of course, this suits the predators who pass for parliamentarians and their friends, because it means that a proportion of those people will be forced to sell-up and move out, creating a dynamic that will favour subdivisions, making housing even less affordable.
"Policies which promise to build low cost modest housing, or any policy which increases density will only drive prices higher and worsen the situation. By reducing dwelling size, the premium paid for land increases and land price increases." (Dennis K in "The Housing market and the death of Australia.")
Whilst building high-rent slums, the person or corporation that buys the 'air-rights' around the stations servicing increasingly congested suburbs will make billions of dollars, far more than is needed to buy parliamentarians and political parties.
We are told that the Planning Department estimates Sydney’s population will increase by 1.6 million over the next 20 years, requiring 664,300 new homes. Chris Johnson, of Urban Taskforce, an organisation that represents the interests of property developers, is quoted predictably as saying that 'Sydney will need to build 100 new high-rise apartment towers a year for the next 50 years to accommodate a third of the increased population.' Only if Mr Johnson and his allies get away with their political push to bulldoze Australians' rights.
Australia's population is increasing at an unsustainable rate, impacting on democracy, the environment, and civil rights, only due to immigration policy at both Federal and State levels. All the states have websites inviting people to come and live in them and all the states pretend they have no control over the situation. The Australian government is trying to induce young people to move to the north of Australia in the context of high unemployment. The aim is to give young people no choice but to work for the predators who are moving in on the north to cover it in mines, roads, dams and suburbs. There will be no natural environment left at this rate. The high immigration that permits all these abuses is not Australia's friend. But it's not terrorism from overseas we should fear most; it is the terrorism of the developers inside and outside parliament who are removing our rights in order to promote growth for their selfish profits.
Probably the only way to change this kind of situation is through a revolution that redistributes land and decommodifies it. With the mass media working so successfully to keep Australians ignorant and isolated from each other, this would be almost inconceivable, except that there is also a good possibility that petroleum depletion and the inadequacy of alternative sources of power and of nuclear will undermine the awful profit system we are groaning under. The result will be a decline in the ability to travel long distances and a return to the family and clan unit, interacting locally. The family and clan unit has an organic power structure, rooted geopolitically in its local environment. #fnAirSpace4" id="txtAirSpace4">4
Did Vishann Chakrabarti, touted as a 'leading New York architect' willingly lend his name to this subversion of democracy by the new Australian squattocracy? Such a man could use his position to denounce the hidious transformation of the world into New York-style ghettos divided by desert, or he can use it to help Australian Prime Minister Abbott to further privilege corporate power and wealth, in an entropic race to the bottom.
#fnAirSpace1" id="fnAirSpace1">1. #txtAirSpace1">↑ Bradfield was a founding member of the Australian Engineers Institute and famous for being the engineer in charge of the construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. He was also famous for pushing schemes to turn Australian rivers inland to animate the desert. Someone decided to attach his name to give some ersatz gravitas to this grande bouffe for greedy developers. However, I note that his great great granddaughter, Holly Parker, won a young scientist prize for a kind of packaging that can be replanted after use, which sounds like a generational turn for the better.