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Q&A tonight: Upcoming ABC shows on population and a Big Australia

I note that the ABC is planning to air Four Corners and Q&A programs on the issue of population and a ‘Big Australia’. The topic of a ‘Big Australia’ is a contentious issue in public debate. Several opinion polls show more than 50 percent of Australians believe Australia has enough people or should not grow any larger than 30 million people. On the other hand, the major political parties (including the Greens) are in lockstep marching to the tune of a Big Australia. Thus there is a major gap between elite opinion and the general public. In view of this the ABC has a special responsibility to ensure that its Editorial Policy number 4 — Impartiality and Diversity of Perspectives — is fully achieved in this case.

The question of Australia’s population size and a ‘Big Australia’ will be the subject of ABC Television Four Corners and Q&A programs on Monday 12 March 2018. For details see this post at the Q&A Facebook page.

Due to a virtual consensus among the major political parties (including the Greens) that a Big Australia is a Good Thing which must not be questioned, it is all that much harder to get any balance on this topic in the mainstream media, who tend to take their cues from the agendas of established political parties. It then becomes easy to portray concern about population and associated migrant intake issues as only that of a fringe group with racially motivated agendas, epitomized in parties such as Pauline Hanson One Nation. This deflection of serious debate on the topic suits very well the special interests such as real estate and construction which benefit from unending increase in our numbers — despite the fact that on a per capita basis, we are no better off — and in many ways we are worse off.

These upcoming ABC shows will be an important opportunity to ensure that there is some serious reporting and debate on this topic. I sent the following email to the ABC just in case they needed some reminding:

Hello

I note that the ABC is planning to air Four Corners and Q&A programs on the issue of population and a ‘Big Australia’. The topic of a ‘Big Australia’ is a contentious issue in public debate. Several opinion polls show more than 50 percent of Australians believe Australia has enough people or should not grow any larger than 30 million people. On the other hand, the major political parties (including the Greens) are in lockstep marching to the tune of a Big Australia. Thus there is a major gap between elite opinion and the general public. In view of this the ABC has a special responsibility to ensure that its Editorial Policy number 4 — Impartiality and Diversity of Perspectives — is fully achieved in this case.

The Q&A discussion ought to include discussion of the desirability of a Big Australia — as well as how (or whether) such growth could be actually be ‘managed’. There must be balance and representativeness in the range of views and expertise invited to be on the panel. Opponents of our current high rate of mass immigration (which fuels population growth) should not be stereotyped as racists and xenophobes — as is commonly done on the ABC.

It is also imperative that ABC journalists and interviewers have a clear understanding of the differences between the following four issues/questions:

1. the question of Australia’s desired population size (eg the desirability of a Big Australia)

2. the question of how or whether rapid population growth can be managed

3. the question of the success or failure of multiculturalism

4. the question of the treatment of ‘arrivals by boat’ (refugee claimants) — which incidentally have negligible impact on questions 1 and 2 above

The ABC can make a useful contribution to public understanding and debate by ensuring these issues are not conflated together and that each issue is clearly distinguished and considered on its merits.

There are any number of centrist, highly respected experts and commentators who oppose a Big Australia — for example Prof. Ian Lowe, William Bourke, Dr Jane O’Sullivan, Leith van Onselen, Mark O’Connor, Crispin Hull — just to name a few. It is to be hoped — given this view is held by a large section of the Australian community – that at least one representative of this general position will be included in both the Four Corners reportage and Q&A panel.

The question for the producers of Four Corners and Q&A is: given that this is such an important and contentious debate, will you select the panel in an impartial, balanced and fair way?

Peter G Cook, PhD

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Comments

Here is a question that I put on the Q & A site a few days ago. I later attempted to upload it as a video, but although it uploaded, it was not published.

"Who cleans up the blood as human expansion wrecks wildlife habitat?
Carers pay for artificial nests, feeding, nursing, medicating so many injured and displaced animals. VicRoads removing 800 trees for road and rail expansion. Melbourne Water de-treeing local parks, treating 212 small retarding basins as major dams, due to anticipated flooding from land-use intensification. Huge gaps in wildlife protocol, laws not enforced. If they were, much expansion would be halted. Who speaks for wildlife on your panel tonight?"

As it turns out nobody defended our wildlife on Q and A last night. They were not even mentioned as inevitable collateral damage. It was either a Pandora's box or and alien concept on that forum and so, omitted.

13 March 2018: Another immigration item on the ABC this morning: Radio National's AM featured a call for government funded internships to help skilled migrants find work.

http://www.abc.net.au/radio/programs/am/calls-for-government-support-to-help-skilled-migrants-find-work/9541804

Given that we have actually handed these people permanent residence visas on the false pretense that Australia needs their skills, then yes, we should help them find work. But doesn't anybody think this is glaring proof that the "skilled migration" program is not filling skills needs?

They want employers to take immigrants, on government-subsidised wages, instead of taking an Australian job applicant. It generates NO new jobs in these industries.

The Bangladeshi migrant featured had been given a permanent visa for himself and at least two children on the basis of his qualifications. All are presumably subsisting on welfare.

The "points system" ("skilled independent" and "state & territory & regional sponsored", as opposed to "employer sponsored") is over half the skilled visa quota. It could be abandoned tomorrow without limiting any employer's access to foreign workers.

SPA VicTas Branch President Michael Bayliss will be on ABC Local Radio
Melbourne 774 Friday 16th March 11AM to 12 Noon.
http://www.abc.net.au/radio/melbourne/live/
This Conversation Hour segment is to follow on from the Four Corners and
QandA programs of Monday night.

Presenter Jon Faine has half the Melbourne morning radio audience and is
extremely influential. The other guest is Toby Kent from the City of
Melbourne (Council) probably to champion 'sustainable' growth as an
excuse for unlimited growth.

The radio show numbers are.. Talkback: 1300 222 774 ; SMS: 0437 774 774

IMPORTANT NOTICE
The Protectors of Public Lands Victoria Inc draws notice to a Public Forum at 7pm Wednesday 21 March at Brunswick town Hall, 233 Sydney Road, to advance a state-wide community based campaign to create a sustainable and integrated transport system. Something that has long eluded elected office-holders.

The forum sponsor is the Moreland Community for Action on Transport (MCAT) that worked with PPL-Vic and many other community organisations and individuals to defeat the deeply flawed East-West Link. It will provide an opportunity to hear from and discuss with academics, experts and residents actively campaigning to stop or alter the latest bad road plan ideas being foisted on local communities.

You will hear and engage with University of Melbourne Professor John Stone on the need for a new approach for an integrated transport system, from academic Clare Walter on the health implications of failing to do so, from Western Suburbs activists engaged in efforts to stop or alter plans for the West Gate Tunnel and others.

You are invited to attend and to help spread the word on this important Public Forum. MCAT contact is Pauline Galvin who can be reached on mobile 0421 828 742. A flier is attached to send on to others. Brunswick Town Hall is easily reached by Tram 19 (Stop 21) and Jewell Station. There is free parking is available on Edwards Street car park, just off Sydney Road two blocks from Brunswick Town Hall.

Best regards,

Michael Petit, President

Protectors of Public Lands Victoria Inc
Mobile: 0417 354 169