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The Courier Mail beats the drum for more Queensland population growth

This article was written in January 2007 and published in the March 2007 Newsletter of the South East Queensland branch of Sustainable Population Australia. I was moved to republish the article on this site on 30 April 2008 after I read a story "Wanted: a room to rent" in the Today section of Brisbane's Courier Mail newspaper of 29 April 2008. The story is yet another about one of many aspects of the crisis in the supply of rental accommodation in South East Queensland. Now, more and more people, who could once afford to rent whole units or houses are, of necessity, rather than choice, seeking shared accommodation. (In Sydney there have been, in recent times, still more disturbing reports about shared room accommodation becoming more prevalent.) This is all a direct and predictable consequence of the Courier Mail's own past encouragement of population growth that this article documents. In spite of the rental crises and many other problems caused by the increase in population, the Courier Mail continues to peddle pro-population-growth propaganda.

by James Sinnamon

Brisbane's Courier Mail newspaper has been running an hysterical campaign for further population growth, seemingly oblivious to its many other stories, some of them on its front page: the water crisis, threatened power blackouts, hospital crises, housing accommodation shortages, community struggles against overdevelopment and the destruction of bush-land; traffic congestion, bus stop rage and crowded trains. All primarily the consequence of that same ongoing population growth that the Courier Mail apparently aims to perpetuate. Examples include :

  • 8 July 2006 Banner ad: "Position Vacant - 36,800 workers needed" followed by a list of job vacancies by category and "Apply to the smart state".
  • Headlines shrieking, "We want you!", claiming that, "Tens of thousands more workers are needed to head off a skills crisis which is threatening to strangle Queensland's economy."
  • Further inside, story titles: "Skills crunch slows state"; "It's an uphill battle getting jobless to work"; "Jobs galore but no one wants them".
  • Friday 22 September: "State's people on the up and up"; Baby boom buoys growth against immigration drop". The story here is how a taxpayer-funded baby boom is saving Queensland's population from collapse as new arrivals from interstate decreased. Deeply buried among the photos of new-borns and their parents is a sombre warning from Queensland Academic, Bob Stimson, that state governments aren't providing adequate infrastructure for more people.
  • Wed 8 November: "Migrant workers a last resort in staff crisis". Claiming "Aussie kids don't want to do the job", luxury Hayman Island resort manager calls for more relaxation of immigration rules to fill 30 vacancies in a 500 strong island work force.
  • Friday 10 November: In among "Feast of Jobs", "Business plea: who needs to earn a crust?", the tragic tale of Pizza shops struggling to attract delivery boys and junior pizza makers; and another about advertising campaigns to lure grey nomads and European backpackers into the workforce, were some oddly contrasting accounts of people being unable to find work in fruit growing areas.

Poor pay and working conditions, lack of career path and the long-term economic and environmental sustainability of the service economy are not the stuff to attract your aspiring interstate or overseas immigrant.

Clearly, however, Queensland's booming mineral exports &emdash; coal and aluminium in particular &emdash; cannot be divorced from the many signs of climate change here. Whatever prosperity some Australians may enjoy now from the massive extraction, processing and export of these finite and non-renewable materials is truly at the expense of the planet and of future generations.

What becomes of the extra workers when boom inevitably goes to bust?

Following another hyperbolic campaign about a claimed shortage of computer professionals in this country in 1999, poached IT immigrant professionals proliferated way beyond the moderate amount of work available. Many of those jobs were off-shored to low wage economies, with the result that not a few IT graduates are now marooned as cab-drivers and security guards, with out-dated skills in their rapidly changing profession, according to Labour Market Consultant, Bob Kinnaird.1

Clearly, the Courier Mail newspaper will not be the vehicle to help the people of South East Queensland grasp the necessity of stabilizing population to preserve any of their standard of living and environment.

See also: Shared accommodation a necessity and no longer a choice for many in Brisbane

Footnotes:

1. "Migrants blamed for IT jobs cut" by Jewel Topsfield, The Age January
10, 2006 www.theage.com.au/articles/2006/01/09/1136771500496.html?from=top5 [back]