Peter Verwer of the Property Council of Australia is publicising a 'campaign' to convince politicians that Australians want a bigger population and cities. It's called "www.makemycitywork." The spin is that the only problem the public perceive with big cities is that the infrastructure hasn't kept up with demand. So the Property Council and its business allies plan to fix that, don't they. The content is thin but it's all part of a blitz on the public from the Growth Lobby, along with Bernard Salt's plans for astroturfing public support for population growth and big business, Elizabeth Prosser's push to abolish local councils in Victoria, Mary Massina's lobbying for council amalgamation in Tasmania... It's yet another relentless campaign by big business to further reduce Australia to a mine and real-estate economy for their own benefit and it requires getting rid of more of Australians' democratic rights, along with anything natural and free that gets in its way.
Peter Verwer, CEO of the Property Council of Australia, is launching another PCA campaign to counter citizen resistance to the impacts of unwanted population growth in their cities. It's called, "Make My City Work". He's sending round invitations purporting to be inviting the community to join in and tell the Property Council of Australia what us citizens want to make our overpopulated and congested cities better. He even exhorts us to "stand-up for our cities by signing-up for action today [with the property council's campaign]."
We abolished slavery - now why not growthism?
It's a bit like having a group of plantation owners start up a campaign asking the slaves to stop back for a pow-wow to help iron-out a few wrinkles in the slave-trade so that we can all get some kind of win-win solution.
Nothing about stopping slaving, you understand - or, in this case - stopping the continuous lobbying for population growth that has got us into this mess.
But, here's the thing: None of us slaves - sorry - citizens were ever asked to vote on this and, according to the latest polls, 78% of us want it to stop. Those of us who have looked into the matter realise that Australian state governments could radically slow down population growth by ceasing to advertise for immigrants over the internet.
A small section of the community, however, cannot wean itself off obscene profits at the expense of the rest who do not profit from population growth.
"Growth is inevitable," Mr Verwer asserts in a creepy on-line current affairs tv simulation, 3Q.
If Peter Verwer is in the business of lobbying for more property development and the population growth that causes demand for more development, how can he logically put himself across as some kind of community activist, sincerely asking for peoples' opinions, whilst promulgating the doomsday scenario of Growth is Inevitable?
Check out the Property Council 2010 campaign and see the naked agenda for yourself.
Yet that is what this website he is representing claims to be doing with constant references to 'we'.
Verwer even acknowledges that "People are being honest. They feel stressed out and frustrated. They want to get around much easier and have access to community services ... but [he adds] people also recognise that growth is inevitable."
He then continues, somewhat incoherently: "Their view is that - they are a bit negative - they want to show some leadership, but they want to be part of developing a plan for the future of cities, not just now, but for their kids as well."
3Q Tasteless Corporate Whimsey
3Q program presenter, Sarah MacDonald's approach to the subject seems fatuous when you consider the growing hardships and gradual exclusion that overpopulation is visiting on Australians.
MacDonald claims (using words from the Property Council campaign) that Australians
"love to moan about the traffic, the cost of housing, and the long queues, for everything, from child-care places to aged-care facilities..."
Then she says (addressing Verwer): "Peter, we do like to complain, but are we complaining about the right things?"
This is Verwer's queue to say how "we" all understand that growth is inevitable and to imply that we want to have some leadership on how to cope with it.
I would suggest that the right questions are: How is this catastrophe, which the property lobby caused, affecting our right to self-government, our rights as citizens, the medium-term survival of individuals and entire communities, along with the things they worked for and the environment that nurtured them?
3 Q's MacDonald, addressing Verwer as if he were the oracle, asks why our cities are so unable to cope with what is happening and how we got there.
Verwer simply replies that it's because of a failure of long-term planning.
[Well, I don't know. The Property Council has been planning this for a long time as far as I can see.]
Verwer does not say that our cities are unable to 'cope' because our governments and business sponsors have been importing enormous numbers of people to this country.
And he fails to say that his Property Council of Australia, its member organisations, and other growth-lobby 'peak bodies' present and past, such as APop, the Housing Industry of Australia, and The Real Estate Institute of Australia, are largely to blame for our predicament.
It's still Us and Them
So, when the Property Council blog, "Make my City Work," uses the term 'We', I think they should state that they derive focused benefits from the population growth that costs 'us' so much pain, hardship and money. I think they should admit to the way they benefit from what is more generally destroying democratic freedom, eating up green spaces, wild places, natural surroundings, much loved wildlife, creating uncertainty, using up vital resources, inflating the price of water, power and petroleum, and causing our universities to be filled with foreign students instead of Australian citizens.
[See the Property Council 2010 campaign for some insight into this organisation.]
Why would 'we' trust Verwer and his organisation to advance 'our' interests?
In very similar words to the 3Q interviewer's leading questions, Verwer promotes the following message:
"If you believe it’s time for politicians to get serious about our cities, please click on www.makemycitywork.org.au, and sign-up for action.
In " - Your Invitation to Join the Campaign," Verwer piles it on:
"Australians love their cities, but are also frustrated by them. We curse transport congestion and delays, low housing affordability, and long waiting lists for vital community services such as child and aged care places or hospital beds. Above all, we condemn the absence of long-term vision and bold thinking about cities. Across the country, there is a growing feeling that our cities just don’t work as well as they should. The Property Council is launching a national campaign to mobilise the political will to forge a better deal for our cities. To do this we first need to muster public support to prove there is a powerful mandate for action."
Of course there is a powerful mandate for action, but that action, if truly democratic, would not be to the Property Council's advantage. The purpose of this 'appeal' is to get people thinking that the Property Council will act in their interests and to get them to solicit the government to listen to the Property Council.
It all looks like plain old astroturfing, bankrolled by an incredibly rich lobby, which has the National Press Club in its pocket. Not a suggestion that it can buy the National Press, but that it can buy their time and coverage with this phoney campaign.
"Our campaign – Make My City Work – will be launched at a televised address on 28 March at the National Press Club in Canberra.
We invite you and your colleagues to support this campaign by:
1. Signing up as a campaign supporter.
2. Encouraging your friends and colleagues to do the same.
3. Making your voice heard by participating in campaign activities.
It takes only moments to sign-up – simply visit www.makemycitywork.org.au.
By doing so, you show politicians and policy makers that cities are critically important and that you want action.
You will hear much more about this campaign in the coming weeks and months.
Please stand-up for our cities by signing-up for action today."
Property Council of Australia
NIMBY'S are the people who will save our cities and the country
I would suggest that the organisations we can trust and which we can work with are Sustainable Population Activists Australia, who write many of the counter-growth lobby articles on candobetter.net. and are also networked with individuals all over Australia, including Planning Backlash, Protectors of Public Lands, the more active S.O.S. groups, and a myriad of courageous suburban and country groups, rescuing wildlife and defending their habitat, campaigning for water as a public resource, educating their peers on the merits of relocalisation and local control over food production - in short, all the NIMBYs who stand up to defend what is ours and raise the alarm when massive corporations and their lobby groups with the cooperation of parliaments, try to take more from us. NIMBY'S are just citizens and NIMBY'ism is just an epithet for democracy these days by those who hold it in contempt.
Danger of Astroturfers
Of course, if this Property Council campaign succeeds in confusing Australians to actually sign up in any numbers or the organisers actually manage to make it look as if they have mobilised some people outside their own paid-up membership, there is a risk that they can then use this to give themselves some pseudo-legitimacy as community representatives. This is a dangerous phenomenon and needs to be exposed. If it is not widely exposed, then government and the media will simply continue to collude with the interests of groups like the Property Council of Australia in forcing a huge population on Australia and causing increasing misery for Australians.
Property Council's public message is misleading
The glossing over responsibility and cause and effect are breathtaking on this site:
"We know our cities are growing and society is changing. We need to hand a higher quality of life to the next generation."
The blurb under "Sustainability" on the site is completely misleading:
"A vision for a greener future."
This is a vision for megacities that will take more from rural areas. How can that be 'greener'?
"Our cities can help us save the planet."
Uh ... what?
"Our cities can use energy more wisely, emit less pollution, suffer less congestion and do more to harness the sun and recycle water."
These claims have no measurable contexts. What is obvious is that as Australia's population grows so does its carbon footprint and fossil-fuel use and export.
"To do this we need a more creative approach to removing barriers, incentivising industry, smart planning and investing in the infrastructure we need."
See Tim Murray on "Smart Growth."
Nightmare visions for every state on this Property Council Blog
There is a page for every state.
And a nightmare 'vision' for each one too.
The writing is disturbingly coercive: Melbourne will grow to be Australia's biggest city. There will be 6 million there by 2030 etc.
Each state has similar dire predictions which the Property Council is hell-bent on facilitating.
Vervos says that the reason that cities are so big is that they are a magnet.
He does not admit that people go to cities because the economic structure has almost destroyed any economic alternative.
Nor does he mention that most immigrants go to cities and that immigration now accounts for over half of Australia's annual population growth. Immigration now outweighs births in Australia, even though the birth rate has climbed slightly over the past decade. Even though Australia's population would continue to grow for decades more even if immigration ceased from tomorrow.
At http://ournation.propertyoz.com.au/ the authors present a model about how they hope Australia's population will grow, with the following proviso:
"This model has been prepared in accordance with the requirements of Property Council of Australia. The services provided in connection with this engagement comprise an advisory engagement which is not subject to Australian Auditing Standards or Australian Standards on Review or Assurance Engagements, and consequently no opinions or conclusions intended to convey assurance have been expressed.
No warranty of completeness, accuracy or reliability is given in relation to the statements and representations made by the Allen Consulting Group.
This model has been prepared at the request of the Property Council of Australia.
Other than our responsibility to the Property Council of Australia, neither the Allen Consulting Group nor any member or employee of the Allen Consulting Group undertakes responsibility arising in any way from reliance placed by a third party on this model. Any reliance placed is that party’s sole responsibility.
Look out Tasmania!
Although this so-called "Makemycitywork" blog has different portals for every Australian capital city, this article cannot deal with them all, so I have chosen to look at how it treats Tasmania.
We recently heard from Tigerquoll of how an entire suburb full of Koreans is to be inserted into the Tasmanian electorate without so much as asking the community's permission. So we know that Tasmania is in the sights of the growth lobby. And we also know that Bernard Salt was recently campaigning for growthists to start spreading their propaganda via the social media, in order to get an apparently authentic trend happening to counter grass-roots counter-growth lobby which came into being to help ordinary people identify the agents of unwanted and unnecessary growth and organise to stop being snowed by them.
We see many of these propaganda trends in newspaper articles which just happen to feature property council views again and again, and in a kind of parallel tv universe creation in the form of the current-affairs format panel interview called 3Q, on "Essential Vison", where, Peter Verver is presented as a bland kind of socially motivated 'expert' pushing the idea of cities. "What's wrong with our cities? [Read more about 3Q.]
Council Merger push by corporates
The nightmare for Tasmania includes, "Council Merger Kick-along: Property Council of Australia executive director Mary Massina has demanded action on local government reform, as an independent report recommending council amalgamations sits gathering dust in mayoral offices."
For those of you who have already suffered, since Jeff Kennett in Melbourne, and Anna Bligh in Brisbane, from council amalgamations, here are the vested interests that drive them, which are totally anti-democratic. On 21 March Australian banker, Elizabeth Proust, pushed a line that Australians should be denied their local councils because they were more easily able to stand up against property development and overpopulation. She used the term 'NIMBY' as a derogation.
In Charles Waterhouse, "Council Merger Kickalong,", The Mercury, March 03, 2012 12.00, the journalist has created a 669 word article, citing a number of professionals praising council amalgamations, suggesting that there is a general swing towards these among ordinary Tasmanians in the first 593 words. Right at the bottom (and how many readers would continue down that far, he apportions 76 words to another side to the propaganda [the real community] allowing that:
"However, some residents are worried for their communities and question the benefits.
Citizens for Glenorchy leader Jan Dunsby said no business case study had proven cost savings from forming a greater Hobart council.
"How can we form an opinion when there is nothing to back up any cost savings?" she said.
"Other councils which have amalgamated on the mainland have not produced cost savings and if rates have diminished, so have services you can't have both.""
Another article, by Craig Hogget, "Council merger risk warning," September 28, 2011, which gives a bit more weight to those who are not taken in by council mergers, nonetheless uses biased language. Mergers are dubbed 'reforms', as in "Council mergers have been increasingly on the agenda since the Southern Tasmanian Councils Authority set up an independent review into the issue. The Property Council of Tasmania has also been campaigning for local government reform."
In another article by Craig Hoggett, "Bold Bid ends in farce," September 28, 2011, about local council elections, we can read of how Liberal Party member, Mr Bold, had been campaigning for months on a platform of reducing red tape [euphemism for pro-council amalgamations], but missed the deadline for election candidates. Mr Bold is in the construction business with a company, "Bold Impressions," which "creates 3D computer models of construction projects."
Yet another article in the Mercury, by David Killick, "Planning rated as a failure," March 16, 2012, begins with the ubiquitous Property Council of Australia again, "TASMANIA'S planning system has been rated the worst in the nation by the Property Council of Australia." Much of the rest of the article gives prominence to Property Council state director Mary Massina.
You get the picture, I hope. And let's all hope that it never comes to pass, for the outrageous growth that the Property Council seeks so remorselessly is not inevitable, but they would have it so.
It may seem impossible to stop growth, but stopping slavery was also considered impossible not so very long ago.
"Essential Vison", where 3Q is presented, lists some strange assortment of bedfellows as its 'partners': "Industry Super Network, Every Australian Counts campaign, Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, Australian Super, Greenpeace, Community and Public Sector Union, bankmecu, Property Council of Australia, CFMEU."