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Demographer slams overdevelopment in Melbourne - Video and text

Professor Bob Birrell [1] calls for better planning to stop over-development, sustainable population policy reform at a Sustainable Australia Party event. "Net overseas immigration is completely dominating the figures." The politicians tell us, "We just have to get used to it, and the way we're going to deal with it is to throw literally billions at it ... and ... eliminate suburbia." "That's what they say. But rezoning and high density doesn't actually work. The houses are too expensive. The reason is site costs. The more people the more demand for housing. If you increase the opportunity for housing on the same site, the site values go up higher.... It doesn't work." "Nor does the high rise 'solution'. You know there are tens of thousands of these being completed. When we checked the 2016 census, what we found was, that in the two areas of greatest density, CBD and South bank, only 5% of all those appartments were occupied by families with children. Well, what are we going to do about it? We have to deal with high NOM (Net Overseas Migration), it's not inevitable - and this is the key point. The high levels of NOM at present are due to government policy or government non-policy. They are a deliberate consequence of government policy. Not inevitable. For example, overseas students. It is a fact that the biggest source of growth in Net Overseas Migration in Melbourne is overseas students. There are more overseas students coming in on a student's visa each year than are leaving holding a student's visa. Okay, we don't object to students coming here for an education. the problem is that, once they get here and complete their education, they can stay on, more or less forever. Our governments have deliberately encouraged them to do so. By providing, as of right, a two year stay here, with full work rights - even if your degree is in cultural studies - and, when you've done that, you can get another student visa. Or you can become a tourist, or you can get a working holiday visa, or you can apply for a 457 temporary visa. Or you can apply for a permanent entry visa. And, as a consequence, a big chunk of overseas students are just spinning out ... over the years. So, we can change that and that would have a major impact. There are many other areas we could change. I'll just give you one or two to finish, which you may not know about. You've probably heard a lot about 'regional policy' - 'maybe we'll put people in the bush, rather than let them stay in Melbourne or Sydney. Well, currently, there's a program near 30,000 visas strong for state and regional sponsorship. The problem is that these visas do not require people to actually stay in the states or regions that sponsor them. They very quickly move off and they end up in Sydney or Melbourne. Or, consider this, and I'll finish on this note, consider the policy on spouses. [...] what happens in Australia is that you can sponsor a spouse at the age of 18 and you do not have to show that you have a job or an income which will enable you to sustain that spouse. I'm not kidding you. This is the situation. Compare that with Europe. Most countries now, you've got to be at least 22 before you sponsor a spouse, and you've got to prove that you have the funds to support that spouse. I could go on. There is massive potential to bring down the numbers. [...] We have to get the numbers down if we are really coming to grips with Melbourne's crisis of overdevelopment. I'll just leave you with one final thought, and that is that at least public opinion is moving in the right direction. [refers to TAPRIS study] Some 54 % of voters now believe that immigration should be reduced. The polls this year are putting the numbers in the 60%, so the potential is there. May I wish [Sustainable Australia Party] the best in mobilising it."

Birrell, Healey: Immigration and the Housing Affordability Crisis in Sydney and Melbourne, July 2018

House prices are higher in Sydney and Melbourne than in almost all other developed-nation cities with the result that most young households cannot afford to buy a detached house. Why? Part of the explanation is a combination of generous tax benefits to investors and upgrading home owners. This has prompted massive investment in dwellings, but mostly in established detached housing. This investment drives up prices without adding to supply. New research report, 3 July 2018Bob Birrell and Ernest Healy, Immigration and the Housing Affordability Crisis in Sydney and Melbourne

Statement on population numbers by Jack Roach, Boroondara Residents' Action Group (BRAG)

We have noticed many more letters to the local newspapers raising the issue of high population growth mainly due to immigration. A recent survey conducted by The Australian Population Research Institute (TAPRIS) has reported that “74% of voters thought that Australia does not need more people”. The following points set out some of the reasons why we should be demanding better immigration controls by our governments:

Betts & Birrell: Australian voters’ views on immigration policy: Full Report

This is the report that Bob Carr referred to in the Q&A "A Big Australia" program on Monday 12 March, 2018. "The survey found that 74 per cent of voters thought that Australia does not need more people, with big majorities believing that that population growth was putting ‘a lot of pressure’ on hospitals, roads, affordable housing and jobs (Figure 4). Most voters were also worried about the consequences of growing ethnic diversity. Forty-eight per cent supported a partial ban on Muslim immigration to Australia, with only 25 per cent in opposition (Figure 3). Despite these demographic pressures and discontents, Australia’s political and economic elites are disdainful of them and have ignored them. They see high immigration as part of their commitment to the globalisation of Australia’s economy and society and thus it is not to be questioned. Elites elsewhere in the developed world hold similar values, but have had to retreat because of public opposition. Across Europe 15 to 20 per cent of voters currently support anti-immigration political parties. Our review of elite opinion in Australia shows that here they think they can ignore public concerns. This is because their main source of information about public opinion on the issue, the Scanlon Foundation, has consistently reported that most Australians support their immigration and cultural diversity policies." [Extract from Executive Summary, The Australian Population Research Institute (TAPRIS)]

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