This brief article is in response to the following #comment-232844">comment made during forum discussion on John Quiggin's blog on 31 Mar 09 in respons to my article "Courier Mail, ABC back Department of Main Roads land grab" of 29 Mar 09:
"As for the comments on population growth, I partly agree. Population growth is the problem. However the boom in immigration was under Howard not Rudd; Rudd has reduced the numbers. AFAIK Australian state governments do not have the power to halt interstate migration, which is the cause of population growth in Qld, not overseas immigration. The cause of interstate migration is almost invariably job supply; thus people tend to leave SA and Tasmania and migrate to QLD and WA. Beattie and Bligh are guilty of taking credit for something they neither caused nor can control."
The article also draws on material used in the section "End Queensland Government encouragement of population growth" in the article "Why I am contesting the Queensland state elections as an independent" of 9 Mar 09. - JS, 1 Apr 09.
The simple fact is that Queensland's runaway population growth occurs because Premier Anna Bligh and, before her, Premier Peter Beattie also wanted it to happen.
If they wanted to, they could easily have raised their voices loudly to demand that Immigration Minister, Chris Evans, end his record high immigration levels.
Bligh and Beattie could also have acted to stop immigration in the time of Howard. Just simply alerting the public to the fact that Howard had so massively ramped up immigration whilst pretending to be tough on 'border security' would have gone a long way towards stopping it, but, instead, they said nothing.
If anyone insists that state Governments are powerless to influence federal Government policy, just remember how Beattie and the other 'Labor' premiers got their way on the GST and the Australia -US Free Trade Agreement (AUSFTA).
By negotiating with Howard over the implementation of the GST when its fate was still in the balance, Beattie did more than any other individual to sabotage the growing popular opposition to the GST in 1999. In 2004, Beattie and the other Labor Premiers pre-empted any opposition to the rotten AUSFTA by loudly insisting that it be signed as the Federal Labor Party was trying to decide its position.
So, just as the Queensland Government can cause outcomes against the public interest at the Federal level when it chooses, it could add its decisive weight to calls to bring about the end of high immigration if it had the political will to do so.
But, instead, Bligh and Beattie did everything possible to bring about run away population growth and have been playing the Queensland public for fools whilst doing so.
On many occasions they have basked in the glory their supposed 'achievement' of having increased Queensland's population (see, for example, full page Qld Government advertisment of 8 Dec 2005 in the article "Why I am contesting the Queensland state elections as an independent").
But on other occasions, when confronted with the problems caused by population growth -- hospital waiting lists, the water crisis, traffic congestion -- they turn around and blame population growth as if this had not been their own policy.
I asked Peter Beattie personally at a public forum to discuss the water crisis in 2006 whether he would acknowledge that population growth had caused the water crisis and would he use his voice to try to stop it.
He firstly thanked me for having asked such a 'good question', but failed to answer it. He said, contrary to what he had said on many other occasions, that he wished that so many people would not come here. But that quickly morphed into his arguing that we needed more skilled people. By the time he finished he seemed to be saying that we needed at least another million migrants to cope with the problems caused by previous population growth!
Beattie and Bligh are either stupid or something worse.
I believe that much of the explanation for this is to be found in my article "How the Growth Lobby Threatens Australia's future" of 24 January 2009. It is published here and on Online Opinion. The article largely based on Sheila Newman's 2002 Masters Thesis "The Growth Lobby and its Absence : The Relationship between the Property Development and Housing Industries and Immigration Policy in Australia and France " downloadable here.