Pro-population-growth dogma costs Australians dearly
Continuously increasing mass immigration leading to population of 35 million and beyond is now official Australian state dogma. In other words, 14 million people - more than the 12 million that was the population of this country when I was a child in the 1960's - are to be deliberately added. The evidence of harm already caused by past population growth to the existing population, exactly as our normal intuition and common sense would have predicted, is overwhelming:
Our roads are congested, our buses and trains are packed tight, often leaving many waiting at bus stops and stations. The costs of all basic services -- electricity, gas, water, council rates, vehicle registration, parking, etc. -- are climbing through the roof.
Our governments openly justify these cost imposts on the basis that they are necessary to pay for the replacement and/or expansion of existing infrastructure to meet the needs of additional people, but they don't admit that they are responsible for inviting those people.
Where our taxes once paid the full costs of roads and bridges, people are now forced to pay the order of well over a hundred dollars each week to commute to and from work through toll roads, toll bridges and tolled tunnels.
Bligh arguments chase their own tail
Premier Anna Bligh even defends her Government's deeply unpopular $15 billion government asset fire sale on the grounds that it is necessary to pay for population growth. In a letter to me dated 9 Jun 09, the Premier stated:
... a State with a rapidly growing population can't afford to ease off building the infrastructure that supports our economy and community.#main-fn1">1
Yet, the Queensland Government continues to advertise for people to move from interstate and from overseas to Brisbane and, last weekend Premier Anna Bligh actually welcomed the 'challenge' that further population growth would provide.
Absurdistan quality of life in Brisbane
The purchase or rental of secure, free-standing housing in areas close to work and amenities is completely beyond the means of most Australians, even in double-middle-class income households, where wealth has not been inherited.
Many renters have little choice but to share the same roof with possibly incompatible strangers.#main-fn2">2
In one case, during the 2008 Queensland state elections, I even met two Brisbane women who, had not known each other only months earlier but now shared the same bed in a boarding house. The reasons were completely unromantic: Neither could by herself afford to pay the full rental of the one-room furnished accommodation. It was an arrangement of urgent necessity.
Despite the constant mediatised government propaganda that tries to normalise overpopulation, many Queenslanders must have been shocked to read in the papers of as many as 37 foreign students sharing a single house in an outer southern suburb of Brisbane#main-fn3">3. That story was a chilling reminder of what the government expects ordinary people to put up with in the government-driven competition for space on the rental market.
The cramming of ever more human beings closer together in high rise units in Australia, is even causing residents to complain of being exposed to passive smoking by neighbours smoking cigarettes on nearby balconies.
High immigration pushes wages down and costs up
Instead of business and government sharing the responsibility of training and retraining new workers, the Australian government is making it easier for Australian businesses to import newly skilled immigrants. The cost of self-education is rising like other costs that were previously provided through our taxes. Now mature Australian-born workers, many with degrees, who once enjoyed well-paid occupations, earn marginal incomes in low-skilled jobs, replaced in their old positions by waves of recently skilled young immigrants. Some go into hock to try to keep up, or cash-in their superannuation to retrain, with no guarantee of any job-security.
In an increasingly casualised workforce, the breaking down of Australian conciliation and arbitration law and the state award system, the mass-import of ever more workers from overseas, many studying bogus courses, inevitably pushes wages downwards.
All this population growth makes the cost of living (land for housing, housing prices, rent, water, electricity, petrol) outpace any wage rises.
In Queensland, I know of how one cleaning contract company that paid its workers decent wages to clean a hotel a few months ago, lost the contract to another company which employed foreign students at bare minimum wage rates. I have been told that the security at the August Brisbane Royal National Show (aka the 'Ekka') was handled by a contract company that employed students, again at bare minimum wages.
Not surprisingly, as pay is reduced to the basic wage and sometimes even lower in casualised private industry, competition is high for the diminishing number of jobs where the requirement to provide relatively decent pay and conditions remains. In my own experience, even entry-level clerical positions in the Queensland public service now attract large numbers of applicants. Perhaps only those prepared to spend days or weeks arguing on paper their suitability for the job in the arcane jargon of the advertised selection criteria, exhaustively targeting their letter of application, stand a chance. Many who don't have the temperament to repeatedly devote hours of their days to this demeaning and, to my mind, socially pointless activity simply don't bother and miss their small chance in this employment variation of lottery.
Wildlife, green spaces and farmland destroyed for infrastructure and expansion in less-than-zero-sum game
Natural habitat is being cleared to such an extent that the koala, among Australia's most iconic species, is expected to be extinct in SouthEast Queensland in as little as two to seven years. Many other species are also threatened. Farm land is daily sacrificed to more housing. But not only farmland - entire rural communities such as in Queensland's Mary Valley - are threatened with complete destruction through inundation to provide water for our involuntarily growing population. And even then, for all the obliteration of good land, loved wild places, social histories and memorials, the water in the resulting dam - if it even accumulates - still won't do for Queensland's growing population if the government is not stopped from continuing to aggressively invite more people to come and live here.
Where have the people given Governments their consent for massive population increases?
In a democracy the people affected should expect to have the final say in whether or not to continue with such clearly harmful policies. So corrupted have our political institutions become, however, that our official political rulers show no more sign of understanding their obligation to the electorate than their friends in the corporate elites and the newsmedia. The government's obligation is to get the clear consent of the affected taxpayers at every stage of planning massive new developments and if it intends to engineer changes in population growth. Government should not go ahead without clearly informed consent. It is not enough to 'consult' if this only means telling the affected population what you have already contracted to go ahead with.
Instead of accepting the will of the people, however, Australian governments, state and federal, blithely pretend, despite our overwhelming experience to the contrary, that population growth is self-evidently and unquestioningly of great benefit to us all. Not content with dragooning the taxpayer into paying for ever more vast infrastructure and population expansion debt, they also expect us to pay for the coercive spin. An example is the taxpayer funded full page advertisement of 8 December 2005, signed by then Queensland Premier Queensland Peter Beattie, also reproduced here.
This advertisement, "Four million Queenslanders tomorrow," marketed the dangerous ballooning of Queensland's population to 4 million the next day as an unquestionable and incontestably positive achievement, as if it would be welcomed by all. Four million represented the doubling of Queensland's population since 1974.
The advertisement concluded with the words:
To all Queenslanders, I encourage you to warmly welcome our new arrivals.
Who, you ask, other than a life-hating, stick-in-the-mud, could possibly not have been moved by these cheerful words from Queensland's obviously life-loving, well-intentioned leader?
The role of the news-media in packaging and delivering Australian population policy
The implicit unstated lie contained in that advertisement was that the Queensland Government has carefully thought through how they would prepare Queensland to cope with the influx they encouraged. In subsequent years, Queenslanders were to learn to their enormous cost that it had not.
Now, in 2009, many of those same Queenslanders who, heeding their Premier's advice, may have extended welcoming arms to new arrivals from interstate and overseas, find themselves homeless, living in precarity, or on a grind of wage-slavery and debt, even if they are professionals, to pay rising rents and purchase costs. Ruthless landlords have taken advantage of the outrageously increased demand for shelter to regularly jack up the rent and the rhetoric of finance and real-estate media jocks - replacing real opinion - shamelessly inflates the already ballooning cost of housing.
Yes, Australia's newsmedia overwhelms us with propaganda dressed up as news in support of high immigration and population growth. The leading population growth pusher is Rupert Murdoch's newspaper group.
Every Murdoch newspaper doesn't peddle population growth in exactly the same way though.
Whilst the national daily newspaper, the Australian openly proclaims that population growth is inherently good for Australia, its Brisbane counterpart the Courier Mail treats the issue more ambiguously.
Perhaps this is partly because Courier Mail readers tend more to be working class than the Australian's readers, and therefore less likely to celebrate notional investments in the unaffordability of the national private estate. The Courier Mail is also a state paper, concerned with state legislative responsibilities, and these include land-use planning. It therefore is more obligated to report news of the consequences of population growth, which most obviously affect land-use and costs. A few years ago the Courier Mail did stridently beat the drum for population growth. Pretending there was a labour-shortage crisis, it called for more people to move here to work in the mines, orchards and hospitality industry, so that the state could grow faster and faster.#main-fn4">4
The Courier-Mail's implied pretence that Queenslanders cannot question population growth, let alone stop it
The Courier Mail has since changed tack to simply reporting population growth as if it is inevitable.
So, these days, rather than overtly proclaiming massive population growth is inherently good, along with much of the Australian media, the Courier Mail implies that massive and inconvenient population growth is inevitable.
Again and again the Courier Mail's reports include statements that population will grow, exactly as if it were stating that we will all pay taxes and will all grow old and die. In doing so, it dishonestly implies to its readers that population growth is not a result of a decision consciously made by the Australian Federal Government through its high immigration program, with the full encouragement of the Queensland and other state governments, along with Rupert Murdoch himself, to whose tune Governments in Australia seem to have been dancing for years. The Courier Mail avoids pointing out the simple fact that in a democracy, people have every right to expect the Government to change course, should they decide that population growth is not in their best interests.
In "Workers welcome", (15 May 2008), the Australian enthusiastically endorsed Immigration Minister Chris Evan's announced increase in immigration.
"The Government's decision to increase the skilled migration program by 31,000 places a year from 2008-09 is a move to help ease the critical labour shortage in many parts of Australia. Together with a big influx of temporary workers under the 457 visa program, the increased migrant intake should also help to lessen the threat of a wages breakout and inflationary spiral."#main-fn5">5
A brief pretence at concern for the adverse consequences for housing affordability was made:
More migrants will inevitably cause pressures in other areas of the economy, including the tight housing sector where a shortage of stock is leading to rapidly rising rents.
But that minor concern was immediately swept aside in the next sentence.
But the economic case for more skilled migrants is clear. ...
So the trusting reader is led to believe that the editorial writer has weighed up the pros and cons and worked out that on balance we will be better off. However, as we have seen above, the "pressures in the ... tight housing sector" have since almost literally enslaved significant sections of Australian society. On top of that, the economic analysis that purported to show the benefits of immigration clearly failed to predict subsequent hikes in all kinds of Government charges to pay for the cost of immigration, in addition to the decline in our queality of life all as mentioned above.
Minister Evans's also announced plans to import workers from Pacific islands.
"Next month cabinet is expected to endorse a pilot program based on the New Zealand model for guest workers from Pacific nations. The Prime Minister wants this for foreign policy and economic reasons.
Evans says: 'The debate about temporary migration, quite frankly, is over.' His threshold point is that the immigration debate is no longer just about skills, though skills are vital, but has become a debate about labour. There is an unspoken agenda: aware that the abolition of Work Choices risks higher wage pressures, Rudd and Swan are using higher migration as a device to boost labour supply and limit wage inflation." #main-fn6">6
The Australian reported a furor of protest against the Pacific Worker plans, but little against the sheer numbers and the uncontrollability of the impacts, on wages and housing costs.
(One can see another angle here. If a paper only reports protests against immigration if they relate to ethnicity or 'race' then this will serve the spin that Australians are racist in their attitudes to immigration but not concerned about any other impacts. This impression should serve to put people off protesting against high immigration from anywhere, for fear of being labelled racist.)
At the time I also posted an e-mail #UnpublishedLetter" id="UnpublishedLetter">included as an Appendix to the Queensland Courier Mail in response to its reporting of that issue. The letter was not published and it breathed no word of any of this furor about immigration policy, presumably subscribing to the illusion that State governments have no responsibility or power in ramping up or stabilising population numbers, which, if you have read this article, or others, such as this one about the Victorian Government, "Melbourne 2008: Life in a destruction zone", you will now realise is not true.
In October 2009 as the Australian stridently once again beats the drum for boosting our population all the way up to at least 35 million, the Courier Mail, this time, has given the issue some coverage, instead of imposing the almost complete blackout that it did in May last year. However the coverage is still relatively low key. One article by Dr. Paul Williams#main-fn7">7 on Monday 19 Oct 09 was critical of population growth, but by Saturday it had all been forgotten. Oblivious to that and oblivious to reports of chaos, rocketing costs and declining living standards, reported in its pages virtually every day of the week Saturday's Courier Mail editorialised:
While Commonwealth Treasury secretary Ken Henry's pessimism at the thought of a 60 per cent increase in population in less than 40 years (and more than 100 per cent for southeast Queensland) is understandable, we should not shy away from the challenges and opportunities this brings.
If authorities at all levels of government can work together, planning for the required increases in services, infrastructure and facilities, there's no reason the community should not be able to cope with the inevitable demands. ...#main-fn8">8
'No reason', except for the woeful failure of the Queensland Government to cope with the 'inevitable demands' brought about by the recent population growth it has already imposed on Queenslanders. As Greater Sunshine Coast Council Mayor Bob Abbott commented last week, "You can't go on doing the same thing and expect a different result."#main-fn9">9
We can only conclude that somehow the 'same result' is fine by the Murdoch Press, Bligh, Rudd and the ALP investments in property and finance, such as Labor Resources P/L and Labor Holdings P/L), not to mention the government's and the Labor Party's corporate friends.
The editorial continued:
... Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is right to say this is good news for the country. Let's work together and make it happen.
Perhaps, instead, it is time we all "work[ed] together" and and let Rudd, Bligh and the Murdoch Press know that they are not acting on our behalf and that they continue to act with such high-handed disregard for our welfare at their own peril.
#main-fn2" id="main-fn2">2. #main-fn2-txt">↑ See "Shared accommodation a necessity and no longer a choice for many in Brisbane" of 30 Apr 08 for a somewhat out-of-date picture of the problem.
#main-fn3" id="main-fn3">3. #main-fn3-txt">↑ Newspaper stories include: "37 students found living in one house at Sunnybank Hills" in the Courier-Mail of "Raid finds 37 people living in single Brisbane house" in the Age of 16 Sep 09. A story about a pretence by the population-growth-pushing Brisbane City Council of attempting to fix the problem is "Brisbane City Council crackdown on over-crowded housing" in the Courier-Mail of 16 Sep 09.
#main-fn4" id="main-fn4">4. #main-fn4-txt">↑ "The Courier Mail beats the drum for more Queensland population growth" of 30 Apr 08
#main-fn9" id="main-fn9">9. #main-fn9-txt">↑ I couldn't find the story on line, but I read these words from Bob Abbott in a story in the Courier Mail of aroun Thursday or Frday last week. I will endeavour to add taht detail to this story.
#UnpublishedLetter" id="UnpublishedLetter">Appendix: Unpublished letter sent to Courier Mail regarding Pacific guest workers
Emailed: 16 May 08.
If the Pacific Island guest worker scheme works, as Steve Lewis ("Guest workers a foreign policy challenge", 16 May) claims it will, it will, in effect, be an apartheid labour scheme. If it breaks down as many fear, it will result in a further permanent increase to our population and make worse all the resultant problems which fill the pages of the Courier Mail almost every day of the week - traffic congestion, housing unaffordability, the water, health and eduction crisis and the ever growing financial costs of fixing them.
If we accept claims about there being a labour shortage, then why don't, we instead of further degrading our quality of life, change our priorities as a society. For example, must we dig up all of our mineral wealth now, when it is clearly making global warming worse? Indeed reducing our mineral exports and generous foreign aid programs, including aid for birth control, would be far better ways to help Pacific islanders.