Sustainable Population Australia (SPA) has questioned the claim by the Business Council of Australia (BCA) that ‘two thirds of Australians believe that properly planned and well managed migration is good for Australia’. BCA has asked a loaded question, to get the answer they wanted. Their result is directly contradicted by the more reliable Australia Population Research Institute survey. Here, 70% want net migration at somewhat or much lower levels than the pre-COVID 240,000.
The Victorian Government’s master planning document, Plan Melbourne— which drives high density development throughout our suburbs—assumes continuing rapid population growth over the next decade. The coronavirus pandemic, and the Federal response to it, means this assumption has been overtaken by events, and that Plan Melbourne is out of date. The Morrison Government expects a fall of up to 300,000 people moving to Australia over the next 2 years. The Federal Government expects net overseas migration to fall by 30% in the current financial year, and to crash by 85% in 2020-21 to around 40,000.
Some of the drivers of this fall are outside Australia’s control, such as lockdowns in other countries and a collapse in international air travel. However the Federal Labor Opposition has also signalled a reduction in migration, calling for Australia’s immigration to be overhauled and curtailed in the wake of the pandemic. Opposition
spokesperson, Senator Keneally, has written,
“Do we want migrants to return to Australia in the same numbers and in the same composition as before the crisis? The answer is no”.
Against this background, the Victorian Government needs to quickly reassess Plan Melbourne—which makes high rise and high density housing a planning priority at the cost of any other considerations. Otherwise we risk being caught living in the past. It is likely that businesses that have developed a dependence on rapid population growth will struggle, and the Victorian Government needs to plan for this.
It would also be wrong for the Government to continue to impose rules enforcing denser populations on communities that don’t want them. Plan Melbourne has been a vehicle for Councils to be told they have to accommodate “their share” of Melbourne’s population growth. The Government should revisit its population projections, and not be caught out by a potentially fast changing population landscape.
It certainly should not continue to impose high-rise coronavirus traps, forcing people to live on top of each other, on unwilling communities.
The evidence around the world is clear –a dense population is a vulnerable one. The Victorian Government needs to understand that the game has changed, and move with the times.
(Photos by Fiona Bell.) I have strongly supported the RUANELA (Residents United Against North East Link Option A) campaign against the North East Link. I am opposed to the removal of thousands of mature trees and the massive loss of open space particularly in the Koonung Creek Reserve. 12.7 hectares of parkland will be permanently lost.
I am opposed to the overkill which this project is - a 24 lane freeway at one point, rivalling the word's 26 lane widest at a massive cost of $16 billion, which could properly fund mental health, homelessness or indigenous disadvantage if it were directed there instead.
I am opposed to the impact on sporting and recreational pursuits for my constituents. The Boroondara Tennis Centre will go. The Freeway Public Gold Course will have holes removed, threatening its viability."
I am opposed to the way this project destroys the Doncaster Rail Project - for years residents have been promised this Project was on the drawing board.
I supported local residents and the City of Boroondara in a letter to the Transport Infrastructure Minister in March. I supported local residents in the speech I gave during debate on this project in the Legislative Council in May. I supported local residents in asking a Question in the House urging the Government to reconsider the Doncaster Rail Line in June.
And I will be raising this issue in the Legislative Council again today, urging the Government to reconsider Option A in the light of new modelling work commissioned by Councils.
For further information, or to support the campaign against the North East Link please don't hesitate to get in touch with my Electorate Office.
Clifford Hayes M.L.C.
206-208 Bay Street North Brighton 3186
P (03) 95308399 E: [email protected]
"Not only is Geelong now effectively subsumed into the greater growth orbit of the Melbourne conurbation, but there are surprise population surges in some of the state’s remoter provincial cities and communities. I am so excited about this.” (Bernard Salt, "Victoria reimagined from basket case beginnings," The Australian 8 August 2019.)
In a News Limited piece whose title fails to take into account the original careful planning by Robert Hoddle for natural open space and avenues rather than choked alleys for Melbourne, Bernard Salt somewhat maniacally promotes the Federal and Victorian State Government's planned immigration innundation on disenfranchised Victorians.
“The previous set of state projections released in 2016 had Victoria rising to 7.7 million by 2031 whereas the latest iteration has upped this outlook to 8.1 million. That’s another 400,000 Victorians and another 200,000 houses or apartments that must be delivered during the 2020s. That’s important if you’re in the property game.”
Salt lists 15 local government areas with the biggest absolute increase in their 2021 populations according to the 2016 to 2019 projections, and says,
“This is important for big property players. It shows a significant shift in the demand for housing.”
Here’s the line I’d run: “Minister, we need to rezone more land to accommodate the population projections released by your own department.”
“The 2031 outlook for ¬Monash has been upped by 19,000 while for Whitehorse the upward revision is 14,000. More units, I would imagine. And maybe even a touch of high rise or perhaps a more vigorous application of the principles of suburban densification.”
The article also dooms Melton, Whittlesea and Hume to severe growth and Salt predicts that the ‘urban growth boundary’ will need to be pushed out: .
“I can only imagine that all this net additional growth is taking Melbourne’s footprint closer to the edge of the urban growth boundary.
He asks himself:
“I wonder if the really big property players are thinking about where this boundary might next be “adjusted” to accommodate a city not of the five million we have today, but of the eight million projected by mid-century?”
Of course Bernard Salt with KPMG has been a major driver and promoter of such population growth, frequently seen at the various confabs of the ‘big property players’, so this wondering seems very rhetorical.
He discloses the nature of population growth as a ‘burden’. Indeed, it is costing all of us more than money, although the “big property players” probably consider themselves adequately compensated and possibly above suffering from the destruction of community networks, natural spaces and freedom.
“I do think it’s important that the population burden being added to Victoria needs to be fairly distributed, with the inner city taking a higher proportion. It’s a bit like the progressive tax system where the rich pay a higher tax rate. In demographic planning, greater growth should be attached to localities culturally aligned to higher density, and that offer access to jobs and public transport.”
He describes the metastasies of the ghastly tumour that Melbourne is becoming with a pathogist’s delight:
“It’s in rural Victoria where the demographers have done their most riveting work. Yes, riveting. Not only is Geelong now effectively subsumed into the greater growth orbit of the Melbourne conurbation, but there are surprise population surges in some of the state’s remoter provincial cities and communities. I am so excited about this.”
Excited at the loss of control by residents of their city and citizens of their democracy? Excited at the rising costs of living, at water shortages, at pollution, at wildlife extinction?
I think that growthism is an addiction with consequences that cause enormous harm. Like war, which some also consider exciting, it needs to be recognized for the all consuming ill that it is, for the vast majority, with only a tiny few reaping the questionable benefits of cash and power over their increasingly beggared fellows.
Article by Sheila Newman, Demographer and Evolutionary Sociologist.
Australia’s political economy has turned into one gigantic lie. Via AAP:
Pauline Hanson’s push to have a national vote on immigration levels has been crushed in the Senate.
The One Nation leader on Monday asked the Upper House to support a plebiscite, arguing the country’s roads and health system were buckling under the weight of new migrants.
But Senator Hanson and her partyroom colleague Malcolm Roberts were the only votes in favour of the Bill, which was thrashed 54 votes to two.
Pauline Hanson is 100% right. Australian standards of living are tumbling owing to the mass immigration economic model:
- wage growth is finished;
- infrastructure is crushloaded;
- house prices are pressured higher and quality control has collapsed.
These are simple statistical truths. They are not racist. Yet we can’t talk about them because Pauline Hanson does. Perhaps it’s the other way around, Pauline Hanson talks about them so we refuse.
Either or both ways, if Pauline Hanson said the world was round, the national discussion would declare it was flat.
This stranglehold of the imagination is gutting what was once great about Australia: fairness, classlessness, meritocracy and democracy. Replaced by exploitation, class war, corruption and oligarchy.
That this is led by the Left is one the great ironies of contemporary politics. The Right simply loves it. It is its natural tendency.
Article originally published by Houses and Holes in Australian Economy, Australian Politics, at 11:45 am on July 30, 2019.
An impressive video that misses almost no aspect of what the growth lobby is doing to this country, and backs up its criticism with some interesting new policies, some of them drastic - but the situation is drastic. Matt Bryan for Hughes
I'm developing an unreasonable sense of proprietorship over Australia's island state,Tasmania. One could call it a "Tasmania mania", I suppose. How did this seemingly irrational neurosis arise? Am I alone?
About 15 years ago I realised that Victoria, where I live, was doomed to never-ending development, due to government insistence that we have incessant population growth, heavily supplemented from overseas immigration. You would wonder how an ordinary citizen could actually notice that the population was growing. Surely the changes would be happening in places where the people have not yet settled and would be out of sight and out of mind? To an extent, this was true for a while, and you had to go to the outskirts of Melbourne to see the sea of new rooftops on the side of highways trying to hide behind high walls. Those living in the "growth corridors" would complain of the massive changes in their local areas. They would moan in agony at the farmland and treasured bush land they could see being sacrificed for yet more suburbs. They tried to make us hear about what was happening and we listened but 15 years ago our established suburbs remained intact and our lives were relatively undisturbed so we were complacent.
In more recent years, a heavy foot has trodden on the accelerator of population growth and development. There seemed to be a spark of recognition from governments that Melbourne needed to be contained in some manner. The established suburbs were told they had to take their share of the population growth load. In came the bulldozers and, at a faster and faster rate, we all noticed empty blocks in our streets, and we struggled the very next day, post demolition, to remember what had been there the day before. Some of the demolitions got publicity. The gracious Victorian or Edwardian large houses or mansions, giving way to the wrecking ball after unsuccessful but valiant struggles by locals to preserve heritage and amenity, were and continue to be soon just large cavities. All vegetation is invariably removed, except for perhaps a token tree if not in the way of the giant yet to be constructed. Noise and the disruption of continual roadworks and infrastructure upgrades are now part our lives in Melbourne's suburbs. We live with short term uncertainty but long term resignation that our home environment will continue to be heavily degraded.
I think of not only the residents who are being inconvenienced and disadvantaged, but of the suburban wildlife - especially birds who will all but disappear. Once a large garden is excavated and transformed into a basement car park, that land is no longer a home for underground insects or flowering plants or trees. Habitat, in other words, is wiped out in an instant. "Birds can go somewhere else," they say. Well they can do this if there is somewhere else to go, but that means nevertheless that they are gone from the area. You will no longer get to hear them or see them. That is a huge loss that impoverishes your soul and those of your children, possibly before you can even put it into words.
I used to derive some comfort from the actual possibility that I can always move to Tasmania. I have visited Tasmania since my childhood as my grandparents and many cousins, uncles and aunts lived there. My family had a whole summer life-style there every year and so it was in a sense a second home. As a child I appreciated its quietness and beauty. Its sense of history, Hobart having been settled earlier than Melbourne, was reflected in many of its buildings. Tasmania, in reality, is not my home though. I have never lived there and I don't own any property there. But over the last 20 years it has been in the back of my mind as a possibility, an escape-hatch, as Melbourne's population surges towards 10 million (the same population of the whole of Australia when I was in primary school.)
For these reasons I feel a sense of alarm when I hear Tasmania mentioned in the news or on television or radio programs. I feel anxious, on the alert. What are they going to do? What are they going to change? I used to delight in the fact that whenever I returned to Tasmania, even in my adult years, it was always more or less the same; low key.
Yesterday I found my Tasmanian grandfather's 100+ year old scrap book. It provides an insight into life on that island at the time, through my grandfather's youthful passion for long-distance running. There are photos, newspaper clippings, and athletes programs about the many races and carnivals of the Hobart Harrier Club. The brown pages of the album are also filled out with images of relaxed beach goers and reunions of the old competitors 40 years later.
One album does not describe a whole lifestyle, but I could not help forming the impression that life was full and that those young men a century ago had made a life for themselves which was both physically and socially rewarding. This was in a small city in a state where the entire population of was only about 180,000"
My mother grew up in Hobart of the 1920s and 1930s. At that time her parents, as did many people in Hobart, owned a beach shack on the other side of the Derwent River to the city. She told me that she and her friends would catch a ferry to O'Possum Bay to stay on weekends. On arrival they would drop their bags at the house and proceed to the beach. If they saw anyone else on their chosen beach, they would move away around a point to another beach.
In the 1950s and 60s people in Hobart still had their beach shacks. My older cousins enjoyed sports such as surfing, water skiing, and sailing. I'm sure they worked hard at their weekday jobs or at school, but what I saw, was an easy accessibility to pastimes that would to most now seem like a luxury.
One of my cousins told me a few years ago that he would never move to Melbourne, as the 'lifestyle' wouldn't suit him. I found this amusing, as it seemed to me that no-one would actually choose the lifestyle on offer in Melbourne!
I wonder if the 'lifestyle' will suit him if the population of Hobart grows as the current premier intends it to.
Having spent the in Tasmania more than half a century ago, and hearing tales of the life there yet another 50 years before that, I feel I know the place a bit. I also know Melbourne very well and have watched it change from a rather quiet city, where you could get out easily into the country on the weekend just for an afternoon and where, if you could drive to a place, you could be pretty sure of being able to park your car there. You could be spontaneous about going places. All that has gone. Now, as often as not, I will hatch a plan involving travel in or around Melbourne, and then abandon the idea because of the uncertainties of traffic and parking.
I would like to keep alive the escape-hatch dream of simply moving to Hobart when Melbourne reaches complete bursting point. My anxiety levels rise when I hear of Hobart's fast growing population or when anyone puts it on the map for any reason. I heard this morning that MONA (Museum of Old and New Art, Hobart) was to be expanded further, and I felt sad. I like MONA but to me it is not Hobart, and why does it have to be bigger? Part of its attraction is the setting and, if it expands, more of the setting will be lost.
I would prefer not hear any news coming from Hobart. I want it to be quiet and unobtrusive and to just wait for me in case I need it.
The statements being made by politicians and commentators re the size and growth of the population/immigration intake are (deliberately) ignorant, seriously uninformed or deliberately politically biased. And the coverage of this issue by your program and ABC journalists more generally also lack quality research, lack of 'joining the dots', failure to question unfounded claims by the above and, in some cases, unquestioned acceptance and repeat of demonstrably untrue statements.
Please consider the following demonstrable facts and follow the inevitable conclusion.
Infrastructure, including, schools, hospitals, police stations, utilities for water and electricity, roads etc. do not last forever. It's estimated that across the broad sweep of all infrastructure, infrastructure has a life of ~50 years. Thus 2% of the total capital value of all infrastructure must be spent every year just to maintain but not to improve infrastructure for the existing population.
Recently, largely due to high immigration intakes, our population has been growing at 1.6% pa. Not long ago the rate was as high as 2%. But at 1.6% this means that 3.6% of the total capital value of all infrastructure must be spent each and every year just to maintain the level of service; that is an 80% increase in the cost of infrastructure just to maintain the same level of service.
This cost is not only ignored when it is claimed that high immigration is economically beneficial, the error is massively compounded and used to mislead by the way in which GDP is used as the criterion of economic benefit. The additional cost of the required 80% increase in infrastructure is added to GDP not subtracted. This is a function of the way GDP is calculated. It adds together all the dollars spent on goods and services whether the 'goods' are 'goods' or 'bads'. This money spent on expanding infrastructure cannot be spent on other things to improve real welfare for the existing population. Everyone seems to agree that the infrastructure required by the deliberately expanded population (through the Federal Government's immigration policy) should be built before the new intake arrives. Witness the very loud and universal applause on your QandA program when this point was made. Thus the burden falls on the existing population one way or another. If the infrastructure is not built before the new intake arrives, existing citizens suffer a decline in service, if it is built before the new intake arrives it is the existing citizens who pick up the cost. This is consistent with several Productivity Commission reports that it is not the existing population that benefits but the migrants.
Nor does the dishonesty over claimed economic benefits of high immigration stop there. As populations increase and cities expand most ordinary citizens bear increased costs: car maintenance, travel distances, petrol etc. These are real costs borne by these citizens but they add, yes add to GDP. It is this failure of GDP to measure, but to be used by many, including ABC journalists, to be a surrogate measure of quality of life that is used to mislead.
Another related matter poorly presented by the ABC. The Premier of S.A. is calling for an increase in migration to South Australia, again claiming economic benefit, yet at the same time hospital services have broken down badly: ambulances are banking up at emergency departments (ramping) and nurses and doctors are bitterly complaining about inadequate facilities to serve their patients. There are 4,794 public hospital beds in South Australia. If our population is to grow by 1.6% per year we would need an additional 77 beds this year and an exponentially increasing number in following years as populations became larger. Against this 77 extra beds the Marshall Government has pointed with some pride at reopening 20 beds in the old Repat Hospital. The hospital problem is clearly related to the issue of high population growth rate but journalists are not making the connection.
This is not in any way to blame migrants for these problems. It is the Federal Government that is responsible for the migration program, not the migrants. Nor is the above any reflection on the composition, religious background, sex or sexual orientation of migrants. This is simply about numbers and the failure of most media including the ABC and your program to do some simple maths and join the dots.
ABC 7.30 Report last night aired part one of its three-part population special, which included me as the economist. While I will reserve judgement until the final two-parts have been aired, my initial gut reaction is disappointment. The main problem I see with it so far is the ABC has inferred that a population of more than 40-million mid-century is inevitable rather than a direct policy choice. Nowhere did The ABC clearly show how the federal government massively increased Australia’s immigration intake from the early-2000
ABC 7.30 Report last night aired part one of its three-part population special, which included me as the economist.
While I will reserve judgement until the final two-parts have been aired, my initial gut reaction is disappointing.
The main problem I see with it so far is the ABC has inferred that a population of more than 40-million mid-century is inevitable rather than a direct policy choice.
Nowhere did The ABC clearly show how the federal government massively increased Australia’s immigration intake from the early-2000s:
Nor how immigration is the defacto driver of Australia’s population increase – both directly as migrants step off the plane, as well as indirectly when they have children (then counted as ‘natural increase’). This was made explicit by the Productivity Commission’s 2016 Migrant Intake Australia report, which showed that Australia’s population would barely increase without immigration:
While the segment at least didn’t include spruiker ‘demographers’ like Liz Allen or Peter McDonald, it instead replaced them with another cookie-cutter demographer from ANU. One wonders why Bob Birrell wasn’t contacted, who has been a strong critique of Australia’s ‘Big Australia’ Program:
Finally, the spokesperson for Infrastructure Australia (IA) claimed that “population growth is an opportunity” – conveniently ignoring that IA has issued several recent stark warnings about infrastructure failing to keep pace with population growth, as well as ignoring IA’s own recent projections showing that living standards in both Sydney and Melbourne will be crushed as their populations surge to 7.4 million and 7.3 million by 2046:
Again, while I will reserve judgement until the final two parts are aired, I am not hopeful that The ABC will analyse this issue correctly and actually inform debate.
The South Australian Liberal Government is preparing the ground for a cheap labour flood by axing labour hire laws targeting migrant worker exploitation. The question of whether or not South Australian’s actually want this people flood is far more problematic. Back in October last year, the lobby group representing migration agents warned that South Australia’s population growth could fall to zero, and economic problems would worsen, following visa reforms by the federal government. Thankfully, this false alarm was ridiculed by former South Australian Premier, Jay Weatherill, who rejected the Migration Institute’s special pleadings. Article by Leith van Onselen, first published at https://www.macrobusiness.com.au/2018/09/and-now-for-the-crush-loading-of-adelaide/ on September 21, 2018.
As Melbourne and Sydney rage builds, the answer for the living standards destroying growth lobby (property, banks, retail) is South Australia, via Domainfax:
Prime Minister Scott Morrison threatened to “pull levers” to get growth under control on Thursday, including sending international students to regional universities to relieve urban congestion as he puts together a formal population policy.
“Up in the north, they want more population, in Adelaide they want more population,” he said.
“I can tell you, in the outer suburbs of Sydney and Melbourne, they don’t.”
The South Australian Liberal Government is preparing the ground for a cheap labour flood by axing labour hire laws targeting migrant worker exploitation. From The ABC:
Attorney-General Vickie Chapman has announced the State Government will seek to repeal the Labour Hire Licensing Scheme which was put in place by the former state government.
The scheme, which came into effect earlier this year, includes stricter penalties for wrongdoers and a requirement for all labour hire companies to be licensed.
The amendments successfully passed SA Parliament in November 2017 and stemmed from a Four Corners investigation alleging the exploitation and underpayment of migrant workers at various companies.
“The whole regime will go,” Ms Chapman told the ABC.
“The labour hire laws were established on ideology and they’ll be repealed on common sense…
The move has been met with both support and outrage, with Business SA applauding the repeal but the Opposition and SA Unions vowing to fight against it.
Let’s recall what the parliamentary inquiry into establishing a modern slavery act said:
9.146 The Committee recognises that recent Commonwealth, state and territory inquiries have highlighted the role that unscrupulous labour hire companies play in contributing to the exploitation of migrant workers…
9.150 While the Committee acknowledges that a labour licensing scheme is no ‘silver bullet’ to stopping exploitation and modern slavery, it considers that taken together with the Australian Government’s existing measures and the recommendations of this report, it will assist to improve protections for migrant workers…
9.152 The Committee recommends that the Australian Government establish a uniform national labour hire licensing scheme, consistent with recommendations by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Law Enforcement, the Joint Standing Committee on Migration and the Senate Education and Employment References Committee. This licensing scheme should incorporate random audits and unannounced inspections of labour hire firms to ensure compliance.
We can’t have that! The horribly conflicted Migration Council wants less protections and it must have its way.
The question of whether or not South Australian’s actually want this people flood is far more problematic. Back in October last year, the lobby group representing migration agents warned that South Australia’s population growth could fall to zero, and economic problems would worsen, following visa reforms by the federal government. Thankfully, this false alarm was ridiculed by former South Australian Premier, Jay Weatherill, who rejected the Migration Institute’s special pleadings:
“In South Australia over the last five years, during the Census period 2011 to 2016, (we) grew at five per cent,” he said. “That’s faster than France, it’s faster than the UK, it’s faster than the US. So in international terms population growth has been quite robust.
“In international terms, (we are) growing like a chemistry experiment. We are growing at twice the rate of the growth of the OECD, three times the rate of the growth of many countries around the world.”
When challenged about the state’s decline in population growth relative to other Australian states, he said: “We’re not running a high population growth strategy.”
“Look if you want to spend an hour and a half in traffic or spend over a million dollars for a home and actually deal with the crime and the dysfunction and the disunity that occurs in some of those other fast-growing places you’re welcome to it, but we like it here.”
During a subsequent debate, South Australia’s then opposition leaders warned that the state’s population was growing too slowly, which earned another strong rebuke from former Premier Jay Weatherill. From News.com.au:
South Australian party leaders have butted heads over population growth at a debate hosted by the SA Press Club on Friday.
While SA Best leader Nick Xenophon and opposition leader Steven Marshall highlighted the state’s rate of growth as an area of concern, Premier Jay Weatherill said he was “not a high population growth person” and neither was his government.
“The notion that we’re a slow growing state is nonsense, it’s just that the rest of Australia is growing like a science experiment,” he said.
Here’s the chart of South Australia’s population growth:
Hardly looks like an “area of concern”, does it?
Then again, Jay Weatherill lost the election. So perhaps SA wants a new dose of falling living standards. Here’s the chart of South Australia’s labour underemployment and underutilisation rates (some of the highest in the land):
The irony is that the SA labour market has been hollowed out by manufacturing-destroying exchange rate lifting policies of the growth lobby. Now it will be internally deflated instead.
Get set for the crush-loading of Adelaide. Rising house prices, falling wages and reduced amenity for all.
The Australian Financial Review seems these days only to speak for the corporate land speculators and financiers. Bugger small or medium business which must pay the cost of mass immigration in high rents and reduced profit margins, making its products globally uncompetitive and underpinning the very high rate of business failure in Australia. Predictably, in its support of corporate business interests, the AFR is again trotting out the 'mass immigration keeps us young line' again. (See Jacob Greber,"Immigration supports ageing population, RBA says." June 19, 2018.) If we were to apply logic, however, immigration keeps us older. It's not just because, when immigrants arrive, they are always older than Australians who are born here, aged zero - although that is true. The fact is that Australia never had a big problem with an aging population and what problem anyone has with 'aging populations' is self-solving, through death - as long as we do not keep artificially adding new people. Even in Europe, the baby-boomer bump will pass away around 2050, giving Europe a more natural demographic. If you want to see real aging population problems before they happen in Australia, consider the 'developing world' as its swollen youth cohort ages.
Artificial creation of large fertile cohorts creates huge problems
When you have a lot of young people, then you have a huge increased fertility. If those young people also live long lives, then both the population total and the population inertia are huge. You start to get problems of scale, scarcity and resource inflation (not to mention loss of natural spaces and increases in regulation and surveillance). You then get policy conflict between those who benefit from the resource inflation and those who have to pay for it. This is what we have now in Australia.
The 2nd world war baby boom followed mass access to cheap petroleum, which permitted the rise of the car and many marriages that would not have been possible without access to the new suburbia that cars serviced. This was a once-only event.
Trying to normalise the post war baby boom is demographically grotesque
Although the conditions of available land, and cheap petroleum and consumption per capita have changed, there has been a tendency, in governments that subscribe to growth economics, to try to prolong this situation by artificially extending the baby-boom as if it should or could be a demographic norm. They try to do this through mass immigration and by policies to stimulate fertility.
But, imagine if most people were young and only few people were old. That would require a continuous feed of babies, accelerating faster and faster, because the minute those babies were born, they would start aging! And, if you imported immigrants, well, all of those immigrants would be older than babies, since they would already be born, so you would have to import immigrants even faster in order to combat their higher age cohort.
Third world trajectory accompanies massive fertile cohorts
Impossible to imagine! Come to think of it, though, something like that has already happened in places like Africa, India and in some parts of Asia and the Pacific. And the same situation is being created in any country that has persistent mass immigration and or persistent high fertility - including in developed countries that are supposed to have had the ‘demographic transition’. (The demographic transition 'theory' never counts immigration.)
Real democracies tend to stabilise their populations
So, in my opinion, it is important to have only a small proportion of the population of fertile age. And I think that is what happens when you allow a population to self-govern, rather than imposing population growth somehow. After the 1789 French Revolution the French had a ‘demographic transition’ without any industrialisation (not supposed to happen). They did this by using contraception, even though there were more marriages and even though life expectancy increased and infant mortality decreased. This probably occurred, in part, because the power of the church waned and couples chose their family size according to what they wanted, rather than according to what the church had to say.
Today it is the power of the growth lobby over government that has replaced the church in 'developed countries' where mass immigration is imposed.
Growth lobby wants overpopulation
In Australia, America, and Canada, were it not for mass immigration, those populations would probably be a lot smaller, maybe close to stable numbers. In Continental Europe population growth has been much smaller than in the Anglosphere since the 1973 oil shocks - because immigration was greatly reduced in continental Europe whilst it was increased in the Anglosphere.
Continental Europe does not have the Anglosphere's growth lobby, although the European Union is trying to impose one by endorsing waves of informal migration from the countries where US-NATO bombing has destroyed large sectors of their economies.
I would like to add that the citizens of the European Union countries who are dealing with this influx should not be blamed for the wars that their governments maintain in the Middle East. It is the leaders of the European Union and the war industries who influence its policies who should be blamed and brought to trial.
These sociopathic policies appear to be the result of a gambling-like addiction to huge transactions in money and power in people of enormous wealth. If we the people do not bring these human behaviour abberations to heel, our suffering will be immense, as will the damage to our natural world and all things bright and beautiful.
Most people lack the basic education in arithmetic, geography and logistics to judge whether they are overpopulated, to compare population densities between regions, to factor in import and export, and, most importantly, to understand how waste-disposal requires natural 'services' or to understand that they are themselves, microbiologically, a part of nature, but that each one of us now is extended into a kind of per capita earth moving and processing factory for creating dead stuff. This article evolved from a response to a quora question and appears in its original form here: [https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-cause-of-illiteracy-on-overpopulation/answer/Astrid-Nova]
The importance of different land-tenure systems which do or do not promote growth lobbies
My research tells me that illiteracy on overpopulation is mainly due to the fact that the financial beneficiaries of overpopulation also control the mainstream/corporate press, which constantly tells people that population growth causes economic growth and that the problem is not ‘overpopulation’ but ‘lack of infrastructure’. This cause of illiteracy is most prevalent in the Anglosphere where the system does not penalise land-speculation and does not see population growth as a cost to the state, but as a way of profiting in the private sector - notably in the property development and upstream and downstream industries, including land-sales, mining for materials, construction materials sales, development and construction finance, real-estate, housing construction and sales, furnishing etc.
Non-Anglosphere systems (typically Roman Law ones with Napoleonic Civil Codes in continental Europe) tend to penalise this kind of ‘growth’ (really wealth transfer) because it represents a cost to the state, because there the state subsidises finance for and carries out most land development and construction, keeping prices relatively low in a smaller private sector. Therefore, in those Roman Law systems, you don’t have much of a ‘growth lobby’ because there is a lack of focused beneficiaries. In the 2008 financial crash, for instance, France suddenly got a big debt because its banks invested in the US subprime system, which did not exist in France itself due to the nature of France’s property development and housing system.
In the Anglosphere settler states with strong property development growth lobbies and mass immigration, the government members, public servants and the opposition members and political parties, tend themselves to have accumulated huge land-banks and property finance interests. Usually these are concealed in shell companies that donate to an intermediary company that donates to the political party. These beneficiaries of the growth lobby make laws to promote their investment interests. Corporations also invest in the property development and population growth lobby. The corporate press has property dot coms, so they promote these private interests and constantly tell the public that population growth is a great thing for the economy. Public broadcasting also promotes this. Although observant people can tell that the cost of living is going up all the time and that mortgages are out of reach for many wage earners and nature is being paved over, it is hard for those of us who pay for this population growth, rather than profiting from it, to organise. That is because the propaganda is so effective that people simply look away from the obvious, having been told that that is not the problem.
Education and information fail to provide necessary skills for charity or politicians to judge what is happening
Most people have come to accept the idea that population grows out of control everywhere because this has been taught to them at school, in the media, by churches, and by demographers, who are not really population theory experts, but just accept the numbers and calculate on trends. The growth lobby beneficiaries are so wealthy and organised that they are able to place people on charity and welfare boards and on public broadcasting boards and behave as if they are doing a charitable act by offering advice to invest in property and not to criticise high immigration.
My references are Sheila Newman: The Growth Lobby in Australia and its Absence in France, Swinburne University, Australia or academia.edu. Also Demography Territory Law: The Rules of Animal and Human Populations Countershock Press, and, Demography Territory Law 2: Land-Tenure and the Rise of Capitalism in Britain, Countershock Press.
Another reason that people cannot make sense of what is happening is that they cannot understand population sizes or population doublings arithmetically. See Albert Bartlett videos or find online a doubling rate calculator. This is a deficiency of the education and information system.
Population density and environment
People also tend to fall for questionable comparisons between population densities in places with radically different environments, such as comparing the low population density per sq km of Australia with the high density per sq km of Holland. This kind of comparison ignores differences in land fertility, climate and terrain, such as the fact that Australia is quite densely settled in the fertile parts but that 35% is hot, sandy, salty desert and another 30% is arid range land.
Food production logistics
People also are not taught to look at the logistics of food production: They would otherwise factor in the role of importation of food and materials from colonies or poor countries, which can make a big population viable in a small tertiary economy with little land. This problem is well-modeled in the Ecological Footprint diagram which you could find by search-engining the term.
Dangerous ignorance: Waste processing logistics and addiction
The logistics of waste remain inaccessible to governments, business and citizens, to our peril: A large proportion of the world has to be left for food and materials production; you cannot cover this with cities. There are two very important arguments for preserving a very large part of the world for biodiverse nature, both quality and quantity.
The first reason is that nature is our heritage and wonderful and valuable in its own right.
The second reason is thermodynamic. Life is the only thing that reorganises diffuse energy into systems. It does this when it consumes food and then reorganises it to fuel and replace living cells and to create new organisms, via reproduction. Although waste is created in this process, according to the laws of thermodynamics, it is biological waste.
Unlike other life-forms, human life, unfortunately, creates more dead and disorganised (non-living) stuff per person than its own total biomass. So, we need a large, functioning natural world to process our disorganised material and toxic waste.
We should not forget that we are a part of nature; we are composed of systematised cells and viruses that function as our cells and organs. No wonder that when we think about losing nature, we feel terrible. Except where we have become obsessed with the idea of power and wealth, which are forms of addiction. And all creatures can become addicted to substances and rewards that feed the sensation that they are increasing their power or territory to a magical degree that will make them capable of overcoming reality. Currently our global economic systems reward this kind of delusion.
During the week commencing 12 March 2018 the Australian Broadcasting Corporation aired a number of programs on a Big Australia — the phrase used to encapsulate debates about the desirability of Australia’s rapid immigration-fuelled population growth. The specific programs included episodes of 4 Corners and QandA. Subsequently I submitted an official editorial complaint as per the ABC’s complaint-handling process. In the complaint I took care to refer in detail to the ABC’s own documented editorial standards. The ABC has acknowledged receipt of the complaint and will respond in writing in due course. As this response may take some time to provide, in the meantime I am publishing the text of my complaint here (PDF), for the interest of those who follow the population and immigration debate. I will also publish the text of the ABC’s response when received. The summary of the complaint is as follows (extracted from the conclusion of the document). [Article first published at http://www.peakdecisions.org/the-abc-population-growth-and-a-big-australia-official-complaint/]
Based on the arguments and evidence presented in this complaint, it is impossible to avoid the conclusion that the Programs do not meet Editorial Policy 4. Highly relevant principal perspectives were omitted or given very limited time. The Programs overwhelmingly favoured one perspective: that a Big Australia is inevitable and there is no room for debate about alternative scenarios. The Programs ignored opportunities to present alternative perspectives even when they were offered as low-hanging fruit (for example, the video questions on QandA). There was repeated reliance on the same narrow range of expert opinion, while other expert opinion was omitted, in defiance of the weight of evidence on these matters. Given that these same one-sided viewpoints and imbalances were repeated over several programs, it is very hard to argue that excesses in one particular program were re-balanced by the views expressed in other programs during the week that the Programs were aired or published. And it is hard to avoid the conclusion that in this instance, these outcomes expressed an implied editorial stance of the ABC towards the desirability of a Big Australia.
I found what struck me personally as egregious growthist propaganda dressed up as an academic research article on The Conversation, yesterday: "Blaming immigrants for unemployment, lower wages and high house prices is too simplistic." [February 23, 2018 11.26am AEDT]. The article was headed up by professor of economics, Robert Breunig from the Crawford School of Public Policy, Australian National University, and co-authored by Mark Fabian, Postgraduate student, Australian National University. Professor Breunig disclosed that he receives funding from the Productivity Commission, which I think is a leopard with continuously changing arrangement of spots according to whatever political background it needs to blend into for survival. Leith van Onselen's debate with Migration Council's CEO Carla Wilshire of the on the ABC’s National Wrapdocumented here, seems to illustrate this, but for all I know the professor and his student actually believe what they write.
Jobs! The plaintive refrain and the crocodile tears...
Criticising ex-PM Tony Abbott's extremely belated calls for reducing Australia's immigration-fed overpopulation problems, Breunig and Fabian write, “But migrants also bring capital, investing in houses, appliances, businesses, education and many other things. This increases economic activity and the number of jobs available.” It sounds like they are describing molecules in a heated gas.
Increasing economic activity increases impact on our environment and politically disempowers us
Increasing economic activity increases impact on our environment and politically disempowers us. Massive population growth in this country is removing our choices of what we can buy with money, whilst inflating the cost of the reduced amenity and shelter that population growth is causing. That's impoverishing. Just on the business side, the cost of premises and paying wages so that employees can afford housing makes Australian businesses globally uncompetitive and provides an explanation for their mysteriously high rate of failure.
I am going to talk about how changes to laws and standards as to how our natural environment and urban spaces are treated and our rights within them are taking place without any meaningful public discussion or empowerment in order to allow growth to proceed.
Breunig and Fabian's article completely ignores the beautiful non-human environment we have in Australia, the green bits of which are being cut up into biogeographical islands, then paved over, subdivided and sold for ever higher monetary value. I suspect this failure to engage with nature is because its writers currently live in a bubble and simply don’t know or care about wildlife or green spaces or have compartmentalised this reality. So they are writing without my values or those of many other Australians or the values that attracted many immigrants.
Although there are laws for the protection of wildlife in this country, they are simply not applied. This is one reason that population growth can continue, for the recently beefed up Prevention of Cruelty Act 1986, the Fauna and Flora Guarantee Act 1988 and the Catchment and Land Protection Act 1994 would otherwise prevent the big business and government agenda for a big human population and infrastructure expansion.
Who cleans up the blood and guts as humans overrun nature?
I am, however, acutely aware, because I am involved personally, of how various authorities and contractors are expecting local wildlife carers and rescuers to clean up the huge callous mess and damage to flesh and blood that they are causing. Carers and rescuers are paying for artifical nests, feeding, nursing and medicating so many injured and displaced animals. Then those carers have to find some other place to release them, as habitat is destroyed all around them, whilst people like the authors of this article I am commenting on are claiming that the only problem about housing is failure to release land. We on this side of reality are fighting to stop the ‘release’ of land to bitumen and profit for a few in the growth lobby. (I am also qualified to talk about the growth lobby because I was the first person to write about it in Australia in a 2002 thesis - The Growth lobby in Australia and its Absence in France - which compared our system to the French one, which latter costs population growth as a cost to the public purse.)
Here are some examples of the callous vandalism that is taking place as we speak:
I live in Victoria and currently VicRoads and Melbourne Water are removing an extraordinary number of trees. For the expansion of the Melbourne metro rail project (which aims to cater for our artificially stimulated population growth) I have been informed that around 800 trees are being removed from urban Melbourne. Most of these are large mature trees, which have provided shade and enjoyment to people, and habitat for Australian wildlife, including birds and mammals. The public has not been consulted in any meaningful way about this. The St Kilda Road Avenue that leads to the war memorial and the botanic gardens, has been vandalised for this purpose. This avenue is a feature of Melbourne not unlike the Champs Elysees of Paris. To vandalise this is equivalent to a resounding slap across the face by Melbourne Planners of citizens who grew up here. Many find it shocking and distressing as a recent protest shows. /node/5413
But wait, there's more....
But it is not just rail changes that are destroying wildlife habitat. Melbourne Roads have recently changed their policy on roadside and median strip vegetation, with absolutely devastating results for local climate, ammenity and habitat: /node/5304
Then Melbourne water is now treating small local retardant basins as major dams, under the ANCOLD guidelines. Why are small retarding basins being treated as major dams? Because our 60% immigration fueled population growth has caused urban densification and the proliferation of hard surfaces. Although this was predicted by residents with foresight in many VCAT battles, these hard surfaces now carry the threat of major floods, so the small retarding basins that were adequate for many decades, now are deemed in need of reinforcement to bring them up to major dam status!
What has this got to do with trees and wildlife habitat and human amenity, you ask?
These new ANCOLD guidelines require the removal of all trees from ‘batters’ or dam banks. Since previous thinking caused the planting of trees because trees stabilise earth-forms, this ‘new’ thinking requires the removal of another huge quantity of mature trees, denuding much parkland throughout Victoria. Can you blame me if I suspect this is also to suit private developers and people who want land ‘released’ [from the commons and nature]?
The implications of these ANCOLD guidelines (which are now an Australian standard that is threatening green spaces all over the green bits surrounding this 70% hot desert and rangeland island) are staggering for the green wedges that follow Victoria’s rivers and creeks, their canopies cooling our environment through transpirational heat exchange, lowering water tables through the same transpiration, providing habitat for our wildlife and a green commons for our human spirits. Melbourne Water is in charge of more than 200 such basins. It pretends to follow guidelines to protect the displaced wildlife but in fact it does not have plans in place for their survival and reestablishment. It invites people to ‘revegetate’ what it has devastated, but our wildlife cannot wait for 25 yrs while trees grow to maturity, or 100 yrs plus until natural hollows occur. And the cheek of Melbourne Water to invite the people for whom its works have diminished their natural ammenity to replant such areas and not be paid! Insults added to injury. If you want to read more about this scandal, and its impact on wildlife, community and democracy, have a look at /node/5401 and https://awpc.org.au/awpc-to-melbourne-water-response-on-tree-removal-lee-st-retardant-basin/. Furthermore, there is a rumour that the Federal government is planning to make work like tree-planting mandatory for environmental organisations to qualify as tax-deductible. Slave labour for public works damage! And when every government leads with the plaintive cry of "Jobs!" This is where the labour is required.
Still more ... Cull permits for gentlemen farmers
And it doesn’t stop there. Big money in densifying rural areas is impeding the passage of kangaroos to their feeding grounds, with the usual myth [See https://awpc.org.au/roo-scientists-admit-industry-stimulates-roo-population-growth-whilst-calling-roos-pests/ ] that there are ‘too many’ - a hollow farce familiar to the wildlife carers who must deal with the injuries that come from ‘gentlemen farmers’ taking potshots with permission from the ever generous and poorly overseen permissions to cull issued by DWELP: https://awpc.org.au/awpc-speak-out-against-the-culling-of-kangaroos-in-cape-schanck/.
And more ... Freeways and tollroads devastate our landscapes and wildlife
And then there are there is the devastation caused by freeways and tollways created to ‘solve’ the congestion problems created by overpopulation. Money given to Parks Victoria by Peninsula Link for predator proof fences around scarce bandicoot habitat has been diverted to another program far from the original area, consolidating the damage that wildlife campaigners thought they might have mitigated in this place.
And don't rely on Parks Victoria to help the situation ...
Australian Wildlife Protection Council
And the examples I give here are actually taking place at the mouth of the Mornington Peninsula Biosphere - scheduled for densification, of course. Shame!
It is not the big-name conservation organisations but the hands on volunteers in organisations like AWPC (whose articles I have used as examples) that are doing the hard yards in this vicious losing battle against a delusional ideology fueled by speculative money that wants to increase human population despite our population being bigger by an order of magnitude than it has ever been for the bulk of its history. Does economics totally lack a sense of proportion or irony? The King Midas myth and the magic pudding pale against the science of modern economics which seems so similar to 17th century economics and official religion.
The notions put forward in the article I am commenting on simply stagger me in their unreal, coldly irrational model of the world we live in, biological human values, and what passes in The Conversation for research and analysis. Unfortunately these are the dominant models and values that are then acted on by governments and their contractors, in a great tragedy for this beautiful and fragile land that gives us all life.
Tonight, [Feb 18, 2018] I appeared on the ABC’s National Wrap to debate the Migration Council’s CEO, Carla Wilshire, on Australia’s mass immigration program. Below are notes from the debate explaining my position and refuting Ms Wilshire’s key lines of argument.
By Unconventional Economist in Australian Economy at 11:01 pm on February 18, 2018. First published at https://www.macrobusiness.com.au/2018/02/leith-van-onselen-tackles-growth-lobby-monster/.
Economic modelling on immigration is unflattering and does not reflect real life:
During the debate, we got into an exchange over the purported economic benefits of immigration, as noted by the various Productivity Commission (PC) modelling.
Ms Wilshire argued the modelling shows unambiguous benefits to Australians because GDP per capita is increased, whereas I argued that incumbent Australian workers are made worse-off from falling wages (let alone broader impacts like congestion, higher infrastructure costs, smaller and less affordable housing, etc).
At the outset, it is important to note that economic modelling around immigration is inherently limited and often does not reflect real life.
First, it is generally assumed in these models that population ageing will result in fewer people working, which will subtract from per capita GDP. However, it is equally likely that age-specific workforce participation will respond to labour demand, resulting in fewer people being unemployed, as we have witnessed in Japan, where the unemployment rate is below 3%.
Even if this assumption holds true, the benefit to GDP per capita would only be transitory. Once the migrant workers grow old, they too will add to the pool of aged Australians, thus requiring an ever increasing immigration intake to keep the population age profile from rising.
Second, it is generally assumed that migrant workers are more productive than the Australian born population and, therefore, labour productivity is increased through strong immigration. However, the evidence here is highly contestable, with migrants generally being employed below the level of their qualifications, as well as having lower labour force attachment than the Australian born population (more information here).
Third, these economic models typically assume that immigration allows for either steady or increasing economies of scale in infrastructure (i.e. either assumes that population growth does not diminish the infrastructure stock; that bigger is always cheaper; or there is under-utilised capacity). At the same time, they completely ignore the dead weight of having to build more infrastructure each year, as well as the dis-economies of scale from having a bigger population, which necessarily makes new infrastructure investment very expensive (e.g. tunneling, land buy-backs, water desalination, etc).
Finally, and related to the above, these models ignore obvious ‘costs’ of mass immigration on productivity. Growing Australia’s population without commensurately increasing the stock of household, business and public capital to support the bigger population necessarily ‘dilutes’ Australia’s capital base, leaving less capital per person and lowering productivity. We have witnessed this first hand with the costs of congestion soaring across Australia’s big cities.
With these caveats in mind, what does the PC’s modelling on immigration actually say?
Well, the PC’s Migrant Intake Australia report, released in September 2016, compared the impact on real GDP per capita from:
- Historical rates of immigration, whereby population hits 40 million by 2060; and
- Zero net overseas migration (NOM), whereby the population stabilises at 27 million by 2060.
The PC’s modelling did find that GDP per capita would be 7% ($7,000) higher by 2060 under current mass immigration settings. However, all the gains are transitory and come from a temporary lift in the employment-to-population ratio, which will eventually reverse once the migrants age (i.e. after the forecast period):
The continuation of an immigration system oriented towards younger working-age people can boost the proportion of the population in the workforce and, thereby, provide a ‘demographic dividend’ to the Australian economy. However, this demographic dividend comes with a larger population and over time permanent immigrants will themselves age and add to the proportion of the population aged over 65 years.
The PC also explicitly acknowledges that per capita GDP is a “weak” measure of economic welfare:
While the economywide modelling suggests that the Australian economy will benefit from immigration in terms of higher output per person, GDP per person is a weak measure of the overall wellbeing of the Australian community and does not capture how gains would be distributed among the community. Whether a particular rate of immigration will deliver an overall benefit to the existing Australian community will crucially depend on the distribution of the gains and the interrelated social and environmental impacts.
It is worth pointing out that the PC’s modelling unrealistically assumed that Australia’s infrastructure stock would keep pace with the extra population, which is vital if economy-wide productivity is not to dimish:
Specifically, the expansion in labour supply through migration is projected to lead roughly to the same proportional growth in capital and output in most industries including infrastructure industries. That is, the modelling broadly assumes that there are constant returns to scale in production…
As the modelling broadly assumes that there are constant returns to scale in production, the economy-wide modelling results are broadly linear. Hence, while the modelling provides insight into the economic impact of NOM, in practice limits on Australia’s absorptive capacity (including environmental factors) mean that constant returns to scale are unlikely to hold for very high rates of immigration.
Clearly, this assumption is at at odds with the Australian economy’s ‘lived experience’, whereby massive infrastructure deficits have accumulated over the last 15-years of hyper immigration, particularly in the major cities.
Most importantly for incumbent Australian workers, the PC’s modelling finds that labour productivity and real wages are projected to decrease under current mass immigration settings versus zero net overseas migration (NOM):
Compared to the business-as-usual case, labour productivity is projected to be higher under the hypothetical zero NOM case — by around 2 per cent by 2060 (figure 10.5, panel b). The higher labour productivity is reflected in higher real wage receipts by the workforce in the zero NOM case…
With zero NOM, real wages are projected to increase over time, and at a rate greater than in the business-as-usual scenario. That is, in the zero NOM scenario labour is relatively scarce which puts upwards pressure on real wages and causes a substitution towards capital, contributing to the marginally higher labour productivity relative to the business-as-usual scenario (figure 10.5, panel b). Higher rates of labour force participation through immigration in the business-as-usual case is projected to moderate such wage pressures.
Therefore, according to the PC’s most recent modelling, high immigration improves per capita GDP by 2060 by boosting the proportion of workers in the economy, but this comes at the expense of lower labour productivity and lower real wages.
Moreover, beyond the forecast period (2060), the migrants will age and retire, thus dragging down future growth – classic ‘ponzi demography’.
As noted by the PC above, its latest modelling also did not take account of the distribution of gains to per capita GDP, which is vitally important. Thankfully, it’s 2006 major study on the Economic Impacts of Migration and Population Growth did, and the results were unflattering.
Here, the PC modeled the impact of a 50% increase in the level of skilled migration over the 20 years to 2024-25 and found that “the incomes of existing resident workers grow more slowly than would otherwise be the case”. Below is the money quote:
The increase in labour supply causes the labour / capita ratio to rise and the terms of trade to fall. This generates a negative deviation in the average real wage. By 2025 the deviation in the real wage is –1.7 per cent…
Broadly, incumbent workers lose from the policy, while incumbent capital owners gain. At a 5 per cent discount rate, the net present value of per capita incumbent wage income losses over the period 2005 – 2025 is $1,775. The net present value of per capita incumbent capital income gains is $1,953 per capita…
Owners of capital in the sectors experiencing the largest output gains will, in general, experience the largest gains in capital income. Also, the distribution of capital income is quite concentrated: the capital owned by the wealthiest 10 per cent of the Australian population represents approximately 45 per cent of all household net wealth…
To it’s credit, the PC’s Migrant Intake Australia report does go to great lengths to stress that there are many costs associated with running a high immigration program that are not captured in the modelling but are borne by incumbent residents and unambiguously lowers their welfare:
High rates of immigration put upward pressure on land and housing prices in Australia’s largest cities. Upward pressures are exacerbated by the persistent failure of successive state, territory and local governments to implement sound urban planning and zoning policies…
Urban population growth puts pressure on many environment-related resources and services, such as clean water, air and waste disposal. Managing these pressures requires additional investment, which increases the unit cost of relevant services, such as water supply and waste management. These higher costs are shared by all utility users…
Immigration, as a major source of population growth in Australia, contributes to congestion in the major cities, raising the importance of sound planning and infrastructure investment …governments have not demonstrated a high degree of competence in infrastructure planning and investment. Funding will inevitably be borne by the Australian community either through user-pays fees or general taxation.
…there will be additional costs for the community where environmental services that are currently ‘free’ have to be replaced with technological solutions…
Accordingly, the PC explicitly asks that these costs be considered as part of any cost-benefit analysis on the immigration intake, rather than blindly following the results of its modelling.
A prime example of these costs is infrastructure. In its Migrant Intake Australia report, the PC pulls no punches about the higher cost of living imposed on incumbent residents from mass immigration, particularly in the big cities:
…where assets are close to capacity, congestion imposes costs on all users. A larger population inevitably requires more investment in infrastructure, and who pays for this will depend on how this investment is funded (by users or by taxpayers). Physical constraints in major cities make the costs of expanding infrastructure more expensive, so even if a user-pays model is adopted, a higher population is very likely to impose a higher cost of living for people already residing in these major cities.
This follows the PC’s warnings in 2013 that total private and public investment requirements over the next 50 years are estimated to be more than 5 times the cumulative investment made over the last half century:
The likely population growth will place pressure on Australian cities. All of Australia’s major cities are projected to grow substantially… In response to the significant increase in the size of Australian cities, significant investment in transport and other infrastructure is likely to be required… Total private and public investment requirements over this 50 year period are estimated to be more than 5 times the cumulative investment made over the last half century…
Similarly, in its latest Shifting the Dial: 5 year productivity review, the PC explicitly noted that infrastructure costs will inevitably balloon due to our cities’ rapidly growing populations:
Growing populations will place pressure on already strained transport systems… Yet available choices for new investments are constrained by the increasingly limited availability of unutilised land. Costs of new transport structures have risen accordingly, with new developments (for example WestConnex) requiring land reclamation, costly compensation arrangements, or otherwise more expensive alternatives (such as tunnels).
In short, there is little hope of achieving the level of investment required to sustain current levels of mass population growth, let alone an increase in the immigration intake to 250,000 (from 210,000 currently), as demanded by the Migration Council.
Overall, the PC’s economic modelling on immigration shows little (if any) material economic benefit to incumbent Australian residents. And once you add the various external costs not captured in the modelling (e.g. more expensive housing, more expensive infrastructure, congestion, and environmental degradation), the overall costs of mass immigration to ordinary Australians almost certainly outweighs the benefits.
Further information on why mass immigration is not in Australia’s interest is explained in MB’s submission to the federal government’s Migration Program review, which is reproduced below. (You can also download a PDF copy here – please share it around).
The Migration Council must believe in exponential population growth:
In responding to my claim that Australia’s NOM is running at triple the historical average, Carla Wilshire argued that when measured in percentage terms (i.e. the rate of growth), it isn’t actually that high and could be increased further. (Again, the Migration Council has lobbied for the immigration intake to be increased to 250,000 from 210,000 currently.)
In taking this line of argument, Ms Wilshire is being very loose with the facts.
First, as noted by the PC’s Migrant Intake Australia report, Australia’s immigration intake as a percentage of population (currently 1%) is very high by historical standards:
Second, and more importantly, it is not the immigration rate that matters for infrastructure, traffic congestion, or the environment, but rather the sheer numbers. Does Ms Wilshire honestly believe in exponential population growth? Because that’s what a stable immigration growth rate implies, which is clearly unsustainable [note: Australia’s current population growth rate in 1.6%]:
Seriously, how big does Ms Wilshire want Australia to become? As noted by The Australia Institute:
Figure 10 shows that under the ABS central forecast, in 2061 Victoria would have the same population as all of Australia had in 1960. In 2061 Queensland would have a larger population than all of Australia had in 1950. It is important to note that these are not the projections of the high growth scenario (Series A), but of the one that most closely matches current trends (Series B).
How much population is enough?
Migration Council is just another mass immigration lobby group:
During the interview, I claimed that the Migration Council’s economic modelling on immigration could not be trusted as it is a vested interest lobby group backed by big business.
Ms Wilshire responded angrily claiming that it was non-partisan and not-for-profit.
Since its inception, the organisation has lobbied strongly for a ‘Big Australia’ and for the immigration intake to be increased to 250,000 (from 210,000 currently).
It has also been chaired by pro-Big Australia business people and has stacked its board accordingly.
Andrew Jakubowicz, Professor of Sociology, described the formation of the Council in 2010 as follows:
The announcement of the formation of a Migration Council of Australia and its launch by the Governor General on August 1, confirmed by Department of Immigration and Citizenship official Gary Fleming at the Settlement Council of Australia conference in Adelaide in late June, marks a critical juncture in population and immigration policy…
The MCA wants to find a new space to assert the importance of migration and effective settlement, and has brought together some heavy hitters to make this happen. Headed by Peter Scanlon (ex Patricks Chair) – and bringing together Business Council of Australia chair Tony Shepherd, Australia Post head Ahmed Fahour, Ethnic Communities Federation chair Pino Migliorino, Adult Migrant Education Victoria head Catherine Scarth and a number of others – the organisation seeks to build a bridge between those with an economic interest in a big Australia, and those with a social interest in a fair Australia.
Scanlon has been a key figure in building an information base about immigration and settlement through his Foundation… He is also a major real estate developer and will come under scrutiny for how this new lobby group might create benefits for his commercial interests…
Peter Scanlon is a key leader of Australia’s ‘growth lobby’, and has a clear vested interest in mass immigration, as explained by John Masanauskas:
MAJOR investor and former Elders executive Peter Scanlon hardly blinks when asked if his conspicuous support for a bigger population is also good for business.
Mr Scanlon, whose family wealth is estimated to be more than $600 million, has set up a foundation with the aim to create a larger and socially cohesive Australia.
It also happens that Mr Scanlon has extensive property development interests, which clearly benefit from immigration-fuelled high population growth.
“My primary driver in (setting up the foundation) is if we don’t have growth we are going to lose all our youth because the world is looking to train people around the world,” he explains. “Instead of having stagnant growth, we’re going to have a serious decline.”
Mr Scanlon believes that governments aren’t doing enough to sell the benefits of a bigger population so he has put his money where his mouth is…
Peter Scanlon vacated the chair of the Migration Council in 2015 and was replaced by long-time mass immigration booster and Australian Industry Group CEO, Innes Willox, who was affectionately described last year by The AFR “as one of Australia’s top business lobbyists”.
Let’s not pretend that the Migration Council of Australia is impartial in the immigration debate. It is a stealth ‘Big Australia” lobbyist for the business sector.
On a side note, a quick look at the Migration Council’s modelling of immigration’s economic impacts reveals the following howler of an assumption: it “allows for economies of scale in infrastructure”.
You read that right. Their model ridiculously assumes that bigger is always cheaper and/or there is always under-utilised capacity. This flies in the face of the ‘lived experience’ of growing infrastructure bottlenecks and rising congestion costs, as well as increasingly complex and expensive infrastructure projects (i.e. classic dis-economies of scale).
I’ve already discussed these infrastructure issues above with respect to the PC’s modelling, so I won’t do it again. But clearly the Migration Council has chosen favourable assumptions to get a positive modelling result in support of its Big Australia agenda. Garbage in, garbage out.
Carla Wilshire admits a ‘Big Australia’ will lower residents’ living standards:
Finally, after spending the whole segment arguing that mass immigration will raise Australia’s living standards, Ms Wilshire tacitly admitted that, actually, living standards will fall for those of us living in Sydney and Melbourne:
“…congestion in Sydney and Melbourne is undoubtedly getting to a point where a significant investment in infrastructure is going to have to happen. In fact, one could argue that point was some years back…
One of the ways that we are going to have to solve that problem is decreasing the per capita cost of investment in infrastructure. And migration is part of that solution…
And in some senses it is also about an acceptance that the way in which these two cities function, and the way in which we live in these two cities, is going to change over time. It’s going to be much more about apartment living. It’s going to be much more about public transport. And it’s going to be much more about sustainable cities”…
Only in the Bizarro World of the Migration Council do you solve an infrastructure deficit by adding millions more people. And only in the Migration Council’s world does having to live in shoebox apartments, suffering from greater congestion, as well as making everyone consume less of everything, just so we can make room for mass immigration, equate to higher living standards.
THE BLIND MARCH TOWARDS A ‘BIG AUSTRALIA’
Submission to the Department of Home Affairs’ Managing Australia’s Migrant Intake Review
At MacroBusiness we support immigration, but at sustainable levels.
Australia’s immigration levels are too high – higher than our cities can absorb. The infrastructure costs of high immigration are excessive and Australia’s infrastructure supply is not keeping up with demand, despite our best efforts.
The economic arguments frequently used to justify high immigration fail the evidence test. Empirical data does not support mass immigration. Excessive immigration also damages Australia’s employment market and the environment.
It is time for an honest debate.
Currently, Australia’s immigration program is overloading the major cities with tens of thousands of extra people each year to stoke overall economic growth (but not growth per person) and to support business (e.g. the property industry and retailers), despite growth per person stagnating.
Meanwhile, individual living standards are being eroded through rising congestion costs, declining housing affordability, paying more for infrastructure (e.g. toll roads and water), environmental degradation, and overall reduced amenity.
The economic evidence for the above is contained in this submission.
The Australian Government needs to stop ignoring these issues. Australia’s living standards are at stake.
MacroBusiness urges the Australian Government to reduce Australia’s immigration intake back towards the historical average of around 70,000 people per annum.
1. Australia’s immigration program is unprecedented:
One of the most profound changes affecting the Australian economy and society this century has been the massive lift in Australia’s net immigration, which surged from the early-2000s and is running at roughly triple the pace of historical norms (Chart 1).
In the 116 years following Australia’s Federation in 1901, Australia’s net overseas migration (NOM) averaged around 73,000 people a year and Australia’s population grew on average by around 180,000 people.
Over the past 12 years, however, Australia’s annual NOM has averaged nearly 220,000 people a year and Australia’s population has grown on average by 370,000 people.
The principal driver of Australia’s population increase has been the Australian Government’s permanent migrant intake, which has increased from 79,000 in 1999 to nearly 210,000 currently, including the humanitarian intake (Chart 2).
Due to this mass immigration ‘Big Australia’ policy, Australia’s population has expanded at a rate that is more than 2.5 times the OECD average, easily the fastest of advanced English-speaking nations (Chart 3).
This rapid population growth is expected to continue for decades to come, with the Australian Government’s Intergenerational Report projecting population growth of nearly 400,000 people a year – equivalent to one Canberra – until Australia’s population reaches 40 million mid-century (see Chart 1 above).
However, the problem with Australia’s mass immigration policy is not just the extreme volume, but also the concentration of migrants flowing to Australia’s largest and already most overcrowded cities.
As shown in Chart 4, around three quarters of Australia’s NOM has flowed to New South Wales and Victoria, principally Sydney and Melbourne:
In the 12 years to 2016, Melbourne’s population expanded by nearly 1.1 million (30%), while Sydney’s population expanded by 845,000 (20%). There was also strong growth in Brisbane (537,000) and Perth (502,000) (Charts 5 and 6).
The migrant influx helps to explain why dwelling price growth has been strongest in Sydney and Melbourne, and why housing is most unaffordable in these two cities (Charts 7 and 8). While the Australian Government and property lobby likes to blame a ‘lack of supply’, the problem rests primarily with excessive demand from mass immigration.
The chronic problems around housing and infrastructure will only get worse under the current mass immigration policy.
State Government projections have Melbourne’s population expanding by 97,000 people each year (1,870 people a week) and Sydney’s by 87,000 people each year (1,670 people each week) for the next several decades until both cities’ populations hit around 8 million people mid-century.
To put this population growth into perspective, consider the following facts:
- It took Sydney around 210 years to reach a population of 3.9 million in 2001. And yet the official projections have Sydney adding roughly the same number of people again in just 50 years.
- It took Melbourne nearly 170 years to reach a population of 3.3 million in 2001. In just 15 years, Melbourne expanded by 34% to 4.5 million people. And the official projections have Melbourne’s population ballooning by another 3.4 million people in just 35 years.
No matter which way you cut it, residents of our two largest cities will continue to feel the impact of this rapid population growth via: traffic gridlock; overloaded public transport, schools, and hospitals; pressures on energy and water supplies; as well as more expensive (and smaller) housing.
It is a clear recipe for lower living standards.
2. No economic bonanza:
Politicians and economists frequently claim that maintaining a ‘strong’ immigration program is essential as it keeps the population young and productive, and without constant immigration, the population would grow old and the economy would stagnate.
For example, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has stated previously that “anyone who thinks it’s smart to cut immigration is sentencing Australia to poverty”. In a similar vein, former KPMG partner and “unabashed supporter of a bigger Australia”, Bernard Salt, has produced reams of articles warning that Australia faces economic and fiscal catastrophe without ongoing strong immigration.
Economic models are often cited as proof that a strong immigration program is ‘good’ for the economy because they show that real GDP per capita is moderately increased via immigration, based on several dubious assumptions.
First, it is generally assumed in these models that population ageing will result in fewer people working, which will subtract from per capita GDP. However, it is just as likely that age-specific workforce participation will respond to labour demand, resulting in fewer people being unemployed, as we have witnessed in Japan, where the unemployment rate is below 3%.
Even if this assumption was true, the benefit to GDP per capita would only be transitory. Once the migrant workers grow old, they too will add to the pool of aged Australians, thus requiring an ever increasing immigration intake to keep the population age profile from rising.
Indeed, the Productivity Commission (PC) has for more than a decade debunked the myth that immigration can overcome population ageing. For example, in its 2010 submission to the Minister for Population, the PC explicitly noted that “substantial increases in the level of net overseas migration would have only modest effects on population ageing and the impacts would be temporary, since immigrants themselves age”.
Academic demographer, Peter McDonald, has also previously stated that it is “demographic nonsense to believe that immigration can help to keep our population young” .
Second, it is generally assumed that migrant workers are more productive than the Australian born population and, therefore, labour productivity is increased through strong immigration. However, the evidence here is highly contestable, with migrants generally being employed below the level of their qualifications, as well as having lower labour force attachment than the Australian born population (more information here).
Third, economists and their models generally ignore obvious ‘costs’ of mass immigration on productivity. Growing Australia’s population without commensurately increasing the stock of household, business and public capital to support the bigger population necessarily ‘dilutes’ Australia’s capital base, leaving less capital per person and lowering productivity. We have witnessed this first hand with the costs of congestion soaring across Australia’s big cities.
Moreover, the cost of retro-fitting our big cities with infrastructure to cope with larger populations is necessarily very expensive – think tunnelling and land acquisitions – with costs borne largely by the incumbent population. This fact was explicitly acknowledged by the PC’s recent Shifting the Dial: 5 year productivity review:
“Growing populations will place pressure on already strained transport systems… Yet available choices for new investments are constrained by the increasingly limited availability of unutilised land. Costs of new transport structures have risen accordingly, with new developments (for example WestConnex) requiring land reclamation, costly compensation arrangements, or otherwise more expensive alternatives (such as tunnels)” .
Finally, while economic models tend to show a modest improvement in real GDP per capita, the gains are more likely to flow to the wealthy, whereas ordinary workers are made worse-off.
In 2006, the PC completed a major study on the Economic Impacts of Migration and Population Growth, which modelled the impact of a 50% increase in the level of skilled migration over the 20 years to 2024-25. The modelling found that even skilled migration does not increase the incomes of existing residents. According to the Commission: “the distribution of these benefits [from skilled migration] varies across the population, with gains mostly accrued to the skilled migrants and capital owners. The incomes of existing resident workers grow more slowly than would otherwise be the case” .
Of course, there are other costs borne by incumbent residents from immigration that are not captured in the economic modelling, such as worsening congestion, increased infrastructure costs, reduced housing affordability, and environmental degradation – none of which are given appropriate consideration by politicians nor economists.
Adding a Canberra-worth of population to Australia each and every year – with 80,000 to 100,000-plus people going to Sydney and Melbourne – requires an incredible amount of investment just to keep up. Accordingly, Australia’s infrastructure deficit has fallen badly behind over the past decade, and will continue to do so under Australia’s mass immigration program, thus eroding residents’ living standards.
3. Empirical data does not support mass immigration:
While the economic models might show small per capita gains from immigration-fuelled population growth, based on faulty assumptions, the actual empirical evidence shows no link between population growth and prosperity.
Since Australia’s immigration intake was expanded in the early-2000s, trend GDP per capita growth has plummeted to recessionary levels, suggesting falling living standards (Chart 9).
Chart 10 plots the growth in GDP per capita versus population change between 2000 and 2016 across OECD nations and shows no correlation (Australia denoted in red):
Meanwhile, there is a slight negative relationship between labour productivity and population growth (Chart 11):
Whereas there is zero correlation between population growth and multifactor productivity across OECD nations:
A recent study by economists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) also found “that even when we control for initial GDP per capita, initial demographic composition and diﬀerential trends by region, there is no evidence of a negative relationship between aging and GDP per capita; on the contrary, the relationship is signiﬁcantly positive in many speciﬁcations” (Chart 13).
There is also evidence to suggest that mass immigration is partly behind Australia’s trade and current account deficits, as well as the nation’s ballooning foreign debt.
The lion’s share of Australia’s export revenue comes from commodities and from Western Australia and Queensland in particular (Chart 14):
However, the majority of Australia’s imports and indeed private debt flows to our biggest states (and cities), New South Wales (Sydney) and Victoria (Melbourne). Sydney and Melbourne also happen to be the key magnets for migrants (see Charts 4,5 and 6 above).
Increasing the number of people via mass immigration does not materially boost Australia’s exports but does significantly increase imports (think flat screen TVs, imported cars, etc.). Accordingly, both New South Wales and Victoria have driven huge trade deficits as the extra imports have far outweighed exports (Chart 15):
All of these extra imports must be paid for – either by accumulating foreign debt, or by selling-off the nation’s assets. Australia has been doing both.
Australia would improve its trade balance and current account deficit, as well as reduce the need to sell-off assets and binge on debt, if it simply cut immigration.
Australia will ship the same amount of hard commodities and agriculture regardless of how many people are coming in as all the productive capacity has been set up and it doesn’t require more labour.
4. Lowering immigration would raise wages:
Hand wringing over Australia’s anaemic wages growth (Chart 16) hit fever pitch recently, with politicians, economists and media all searching for answers.
One cause that has received scant attention is the role caused by mass immigration in driving-up labour supply and reducing the bargaining power of workers.
Employer groups often argue that a strong ‘skilled’ migration program is required to overcome perceived labour shortages – a view that is supported by the Australian Government. However, the available data shows this argument to be weak.
The Department of Employment’s 2016-17 Skills Shortages report revealed that Australian skills shortages “continue to be limited in 2016-17”, and that there are a high number of applicants per job (Chart 17):
The Department of Employment also revealed a record number of Australians studying at university (Chart 18):
Of whom many graduates cannot gain meaningful employment (Chart 19):
The Australian Bureau of Statistics’ labour force data also shows that Australia’s underutilisation rate remains high, especially for Australia’s youth, despite the recent improvement in the labour market (Chart 20).
Curiously, Australia’s permanent skilled migrant intake is significantly higher today (128,550) than it was at the peak of the mining boom in 2011 (113,850). Why? Unlike then, labour shortages are “limited”, wages growth is running near the lowest level on record, and labour underutilisation is high. What is the economic rationale for running the highest permanent migrant intake on record when economic conditions do not warrant it?
Standard economic theory claims that net inward migration has minimal long-term impact on wages. That is, when the quantity of labour increases, its price (wages) falls. This will supposedly increase profits, eventually leading to more investment, increased demand for labour, and a reversal of the initial fall in wages. Immigration, so the theory goes, will enable the larger domestic population to enjoy the same incomes as the smaller population did before.
However, a recent study by Cambridge University economist, Robert Rowthorn, debunked this argument. The so-called ‘temporary’ effects of displacing incumbent workers and lower wages can last for up to ten years. And if there is a continuing influx of migrants – as is the case in Australia – rather than a one-off increase in the size of the labour force, demand for labour will constantly lag behind growth in supply .
In other words, if the Australian Government was to stem the inflow of foreign workers, then workers’ bargaining power would increase, as will wages growth. It is basic economics.
As noted in April last year by The Australia Institute’s chief economist, Richard Denniss, the very purpose of foreign worker visas is to “suppress wage growth by allowing employers to recruit from a global pool of labour to compete with Australian workers”. In a normal functioning labour market, “when demand for workers rises, employers would need to bid against each other for the available scarce talent”. But this mechanism has been bypassed by enabling employers to recruit labour globally. “It is only in recent years that the wage rises that accompany the normal functioning of the labour market have been rebranded as a ‘skills shortage'” .
Australia’s youth is effectively caught in a pincer by the Australian Government’s mass immigration program. Not only does it hold down their wages, but it also inflates their cost-of-living via more expensive housing (both prices and rents).
5. It’s time for a national debate and population policy:
The Australian Government under both the Coalition and Labor has long supported mass immigration and a ‘Big Australia’ on flawed economic grounds.
Behind the scenes, the ‘growth lobby’ of retailers, the banking sector, the property industry and erroneously named ‘think tanks’ all push the growth-ist agenda, while completely ignoring the cost burden on ordinary residents.
At the same time, many on the left pursue the globalist agenda of ‘open borders’ citing spurious social justice concerns.
Currently, there is no coherent plan other than to inundate the major cities with extra people each and every year to stoke overall economic growth (but not growth per person), to support big business (e.g. the property industry and retailers), and to prevent Australia from going into recession (despite growth per person stagnating).
Meanwhile, individual living standards are being eroded through rising congestion costs, declining housing affordability, paying more for infrastructure (e.g. toll roads, water and energy), environmental degradation, and overall reduced amenity.
Never have Australians been asked whether they want a population of 40 million-plus mid-century. Nor whether they want Sydney’s and Melbourne’s populations to swell to eight million mid-century.
Yet immigration and population growth affects every facet of Australian life, including: how long one spends stuck in traffic; whether one can get a seat on a train or a spot in hospital or school; and/or whether one can afford a good sized home within a decent commute to where one works. It is a key determinant of living standards above all else, yet is rarely questioned by the media nor politicians.
Without mainstream political representation on this issue, divisive elements like Pauline Hanson’s One Nation party have emerged to wrongly use the ills of overpopulation to attack the small number of refugees arriving in Australia, as well as Muslim and Asian immigration.
As this submission has shown, there is strong justification to reduce Australia’s permanent migrant intake back to historical levels primarily by slashing skilled migration, which has been the driver of the influx. This would take the strain off the major cities, put a floor under wages growth, and safeguard Australia’s environment.
Australia could achieve such immigration cuts without affecting its global obligations via the humanitarian migrant intake. Indeed, much of Australia’s 130,000 strong permanent skilled migrant intake comes from countries where skills are more desperately needed than in Australia. Australia’s immigration program is depriving these countries of skills, and we have a moral obligation to limit the brain drain.
More broadly, Australia desperately needs a national debate and a population strategy, led by the Australian Government. The Government needs to conduct a population plebiscite asking Australians how big they want the nation to become, and then set immigration policy accordingly. The Australian Government also needs to provide a comprehensive plan detailing how and where it will accommodate all the extra people, while safeguarding incumbent residents’ living standards.
Tonight (11 September 2017) the ABC’s Media Watch program contained a section in which presenter (Paul Barry) attacked Dick Smith’s views on population and specifically Dick Smith’s complaints about the ABC’s refusal to cover the issue of Australia’s rampant population growth. Yet for much of the time he did not defend the ABC. He did not answer points Dick Smith makes at https://www.dicksmithfairgo.com.au/abc-tv-news-current-affairs-bias-growth/or that William Lines and I have made at https://www.dicksmithfairgo.com.au/abc-bias-chapter-overloading-australia/ about ABC bias. Instead, Paul Barry seemed more interested in attacking Dick Smith. [Mark O'Connor is a well known Australian poet and co-author with Bill Lines of Overloading Australia.]
Abandoning the standards Barry and Media Watch normally hold other journalists to, Barry made no attempt to deal with the relevant issues. He did not, for instance, attempt to argue that the amount of space that ABC TV news programs devote to Australia’s extraordinary rate of population growth (we are growing at a rate that would be high even in the Third World) is in proportion with this issue’s importance. Much less did Barry offer evidence or statistics to show that the ABC gives fair or equal space to critics of these very high population growth rates or of the very high immigration rates that drive this growth.
He made no attempt to compare the space and time given to population with that given to other major drivers of contemporary history’s problems, such as “the economy”, or climate change. Nor did he answer the points so powerfully made by Ross Gittins and others about the need to stop pretending that high immigration is any clear benefit to Australia. See for instance https://www.macrobusiness.com.au/2017/09/bob-brown-laura-tingle-and-ross-gittins-back-dick-smith/
Instead Barry launched an ad hominem attack on Dick Smith, presenting him as an attention seeker. Perhaps Barry thought attack was the ABC’s best method of defence.
He claimed Dick was unreasonably aggrieved at not having his point of view represented on ABC’s program The Drum (where a group of population growth advocates was recently lined up to belittle Dick’s case, with some making misleading statements about him supporting Pauline Hanson). See https://www.macrobusiness.com.au/2017/09/abc-drum-counters-immigration-bias-claim-bias/ Yet if they did not want Dick on their panel, why did they not ask Ross Gittins or Bob Carr or Tim Flannery or Ian Lowe etc etc ? Why only pro-growth panellists?
Barry cannot plead ignorance on this subject. The failure of ABC TV news programs to give appropriate space to the case against our government’s policies of pursuing high population growth has been repeatedly brought to his attention at Media Watch, and he has always refused to cover the issue.
If this refusal to deal with an issue that goes to the heart of Media Watch’s charter (as indeed of the ABC’s) was not based on a careful examination of the case, then it was irresponsible. But if it was based on a careful examination which showed that the ABC’s coverage had not in fact been too small and was not unbalanced, then Barry would tonight have been able to produce hard evidence and statistics to disprove Dick Smith’s criticisms. He would not have needed ad hominem attacks, or puns on Dick’s name.
The nearest Barry came to a defence of the ABC was in pointing out that back in 2010 (that’s 7 whole years ago, Paul, and for an issue that its crucial to a dozen news items every week!) the ABC did run a documentary on population called (indeed) Dick Smith’s Population Puzzle followed by a debate on Q&A.
But Barry failed to mention that at the last minute Q&A insisted that their panel would not contain any clear critics of Australia’s rapid-population-growth policies, thus once again disenfranchising the majority of Australians from the debate. Instead there would be a “sub-panel” (which did contain Tim Flannery) who would be allowed to make a brief statement each but not take place in the subsequent debate. (I think I have remembered this correctly. I do remember that it all seemed bizarre at the time. Media Watch did not, of course, comment back then upon this oddity.)
So instead of a normal Q&A debate, we were treated to an interchange of views between types like Tony Shepherd and John Elliott, whose line was that population growth is needed for business: end of story. For “contrast” these were put in discussion with an utterly pro-growth mayor who wanted us to know about the heart-pangs that he and (he claimed) the fellow citizens of his town suffered daily at being only the second biggest town in their state! (At least that’s what I can remember from 7 years ago. It was certainly not a fair or balanced debate, if a debate at all).
Barry might have found a better example if he had mentioned that back in January 2010, as described on p. 162 of my and William Lines’s book Overloading Australia, the ABC’s 7.30 Report allowed Matt Peacock to make a series of 4 segments on the deep disquiet felt by many scientists and social commentators at Australia’s rate of population growth. But to use this example Barry would have had to explain why the ABC has never since allowed Peacock or others to revisit that issue in similar depth. In fact since then many of those whom Peacock found willing to speak out in 2010 have fallen silent, realising that there is little chance of getting a fair hearing.
I think we have the right to be angry about this. ABC TV news has never provided adequate or balanced coverage of Australia’s population debate; and now that Dick Smith has had the courage to put it on the spot, it is flailing around and trying to defend itself with ad hominem attacks.
Subsequent to Dick Smith's complaints to the ABC about bias towards the growth lobby on the subject of population, on 11 September 2017, Paul Barry, of ABC Media Watch, launched what many thought was a personal attack on Smith, in lieu of dealing fairly with the vital issues at hand. Dr John Coulter (former Senator and leader of the Democrats) wrote the following complaint to Media Watch, where he protests at the treatment of Dick Smith by Media Watch and documents a number of instances of pro-population-growth bias in the ABC. You can also read some a few comments published by Media Watch on this issue here: http://www.abc.net.au/mediawatch/transcripts/s4732374.htm.
Dear Media Watch,
[11 September 2017]
I was quite shocked by your program last evening re coverage of Dick Smith’s attempts to get ‘growth’ both population and economic on to the ABC’s agenda. Unlike your usual, more dispassionate reports you seemed to be more intent on disparaging Dick Smith rather than dealing with the importance of his claims as to the overarching importance of both aspects of growth as the drivers of our unsustainable trajectory and the fact, yes fact, that the ABC has excluded these things from its main-stream news items.
I wrote to you about this back in March and received an acknowledgement but nothing more. Below is some of the content of that letter.
But to bring this right up to date, just this morning there was extensive coverage of the problems with the supply of electricity into the mid-term future. But not a single mention of the fact that Federal Government policy is to add an additional one million people, all needing electricity every five years into the indefinite future.
Is this really an irrelevant ‘fact’? Is it not an important ‘fact’ to bring into this discussion? In every other sphere of public discussion both supply and demand are considered the basic elements of economics 101. Yet in the provision of electricity services, affordable housing, education, hospitals and medical services, roads and transport, etc etc the demand side caused by deliberate population growth through immigration is excluded by the ABC.
On the economic growth side the ABC repeatedly provides data on the growth of GDP but with few exceptions fails to provide the figures on per capita GDP growth which is much much smaller because of the very high level of immigration. Nor does it mention that included in the GDP figures are large amounts spent on attempts to keep infrastructure up to providing for the expanding population. None of these costs, which are added to GDP, improve the lot of existing Australians. It’s not surprising that very many Australians feel they are going backwards – because they are. Or that the Productivity Commission found only marginal economic benefits from immigration and much of that benefit going to the recently arrived.
None of this is to indicate racism. This is purely to do with numbers and how best to build an environmentally sustainable Australia in an environmentally sustainable world. Note that the Global Footprint Network has recently released its figures which show that Australians have the highest per capita environmental impact in the world. We would need 5.2 Earths if all were to live like Australians. Yet all our political parties seek to increase both population and per capita consumption. And the ABC uses language in its coverage of these things as, for example, South Australia ‘falling behind.
These footprint figures link Australians to the rest of the world and how best we can assist other nations to find their own unique path to a sustainable future. With 80+ million refugees and displaced persons in the world and with fertility rates in many middle-east and sub-Saharan Africa very high it seems self-evident that Australia could do much more by way of foreign aid, especially slanting that aid toward family planning, contraception and raising the standard of health of women. Yet Australia has cut its foreign aid program and the ABC has not picked up on the central role of foreign aid to assist women in the ways mentioned. Indeed a number of programs from Sally Sara and others have ignored the central role of high fertility in worsening the plight of people from Yemen to South Sudan. I am associated with an organisation called Population Media Centre which operates in over 50 countries and which concentrates specifically on raising the health of women. It uses long running radio soapies to raise awareness. I have several times urged programs such as Foreign Correspondent and Sally Sara specifically to make a program about the exciting and successful work of PMC in Ethiopia for example, but to no avail.
Below is some or all of the letter I wrote to you back in March:
9th March  letter to media watch.
For example, last week in Saturday Extra a long interview regarding the plight of refugees in Sudan failed to even mention population growth as a driver of this and similar distressing situations across much of the world, especially the middle east and throughout Africa. Population growth is clearly going to make the present look like a picnic compared with the inevitable future. By not dealing with population and implying that the real need is for short-term aid rather than family planning, contraception availability, education and a rise in the standard of living and equality of women, such programs will make the future worse than it needs to be. In short, such programs will increase the totality of human suffering.
See the 2 minute video from the UN on the plight across the Sahel at http://oasisinitiative.berkeley.edu/news/ [Embedded below.]
This item on Saturday Extra was not isolated. A week earlier on a different program a similar account from another refugee camp in Africa failed to mention population growth as a factor.
12th November 2016, "What keeps me at wake at night."
This program on water began with the statement that water was a limited resource but that demand was increasing. It identified the limits on water supply as underpinning several of the areas in turmoil in the middle east, especially Syria. It touched on the appalling conditions in Yemen, specifically dealing with declining water per capita but again failed to mention the very high fertility rate in Yemen or any of the other middle east countries which appear on the nightly ABC TV news showing very large numbers of children but with never a comment on the size of the population or the fact that the high fertility rate will exacerbate the water shortage per capita. It is not a water shortage but a longage of people. This is the point that the ABC repeatedly misses. The standard analysis by ABC journalists as to what ails many of the middle-east countries is presented in political and religious conflict terms; never does it point to the underlying drivers: too many people trying to derive resources, including water and food, from a finite environment.
Last evening (27th March) on Lateline Jeremy Fernandez interviewed HRH Haya Bint al Hussein of Jordan who is in Australia in her role as assisting international refugees and speaking with Australia's Foreign Minister. Princess Haya made the remarkable claim that the world produces three times as much food as needed. This went unchallenged. She was not asked a single question about the very high fertility rates in middle eastern countries and how this was impacting (what is usually called the shortage of food and water but is really) the longage of people. Note that almost every news item that covers the middle eastern refugee situation speaks of families of 4, 6 and 8 children and every video clip shows a preponderance of children. There is no shortage of evidence. She was not asked a single question on family planning or use of contraception.
This morning (28th March) Fran Kelly also interviewed the princess and again there was a complete absence of any questions about the very high fertility rates in Middle east countries, what her charities might be doing about this, about Trump's change to foreign aid specifically with respect to family planning clinics providing abortion advice or services and whether she would be asking the Australian Foreign Minister for additional foreign aid to counter this deficit. Women's standing in Jordan was touched on but only with respect to the number of women in significant positions in government and society.
28th March ABC RN Drive with Patricia Karvelas.
Interview with three interviewees on housing affordability. First comment by first interviewee was that it was a matter of both supply and demand and there was a gap. Karvelas did not pick up on the demand side throughout the interview. She identified ‘the elephant in the room’ as negative gearing but failed to identify that 60% of demand is being fed by high immigration and that many have identified this as a very significant factor in housing affordability. The first interviewer mentioned immigration in his closing remarks but no one picked up on this remark of this factor.
24th March. Stan Grant interviewed Dick Smith in a setting of a Sydney market on the evening Link program on ABC TV.
This part of the program was said to be about population and Australia’s immigration intake. However the context set by Stan Grant was that the size of a sustainable population can be determined by public opinion and Stan kept asking leading questions of those in the market suggesting that any reduction in immigration would be detrimental to their business. Stan could not be more wrong in his assumption. Finding a sustainable population size for Australia is no more a matter of public opinion than finding the amount of greenhouse gas emissions that can be allowed without invoking climate change, or the number of sheep that can be kept permanently in a paddock without overgrazing. These are all matters in which there is good and essential science underpinning consideration of these matters but Stan consistently talked over Dick and did not allow him to advance any of them.
31st March. The Drum. A segment on population that contained no person or mention of environmental sustainability in relation to population growth. Thus, claims that we need population growth, that it was inevitable, that growth was wonderful, that it benefited the economy, that government could do nothing to limit population growth, that Japan was shrinking and we don’t want to go down that path were all left to stand as truth whereas every single on of these claims can be refuted with supported evidence. The selection of such a panel without an alternative voice shows bias.
6th , 7th , 10th April. Three sessions on RN on almost successive days dealing with aspects of housing affordability but none mentioning population growth or immigration.
6th April. Interview with respect to the role of transport development as a way of alleviating the problem of housing affordability (Marion Tell). This was based around a talk by Phillip Lowe, Reserve Bank Governor. Lowe had mentioned population as a driver of housing unaffordability but this was not taken up by Fran Kelly. Together with the other programs not mentioning population growth and immigration this seems a quite deliberate omission.
7th April. Interview with MP, Sarah Henderson who claimed that improving rail links to regional centres would improve housing affordability. No questions asked about population growth or immigration intake.
10th April. Interview with Saul Eslake about use of superannuation as a way of boosting housing supply but again no mention of population growth of the size of the immigration intake.
17th April. Patricia Karvelas interviewing Matt Canavan. Long interview on a number of matters but touching on housing affordability. Canavan mentions population increase and how it is causing problems in Sydney and Melbourne but then provides a solution in opening up more regional centres especially in north Queensland. Patricia does not suggest that perhaps the problem might be the increase in population caused largely by high immigration over which the Federal Government has control.
Finally a search across the ABC from September 2016 to today (19th April, 2017) failed to find a single ABC reference to population increase/ immigration and housing affordability. Indeed there is not a single reference to any impact on any aspect of infrastructure failure and the increase in population being driven by very high immigration.
Kindly and patriotic Australian businessman, Dick Smith, has been very poorly treated by the ABC on episode 158 its The Drum program. This is a very serious problem because, in mistreating Dick Smith, the ABC misinforms Australians on a subject of vital and democratic importance. The ABC seems now undifferentiated from the commercial TV channels with regard to reporting on population. Apparently the ABC has actually banned Dick Smith from the program. The letter inside, from Dick Smith to Ms Julia Baird, the Presenter of The Drum, asks for right of reply. We have embedded Dick Smith's video ad at the beginning of the text so you can judge for yourself whether Ms Baird has a leg to stand on. To us it is obvious that what has caused the media to go after Dick Smith is the fact that he has linked growthist population policy to Australia's reigning politicians and they are going to try to destroy him.
7 September 2017
Julia Baird Presenter The Drum ABC
RE: CONTINUING BIAS ON THE ABC
What an outrageous segment on The Drum last night misrepresenting my views on population growth and immigration. This segment did everything to confirm that Mark O’Connor’s chapter in his book Overloading Australia entitled ‘Media bias and ABC blues’ is correct.
Your researchers didn’t even make the most basic enquiries by lifting the phone and talking to me about the statements that were attributed to me.
I note you started the segment with a piece from another TV channel with the large text “Anti immigration ad.” In fact, I have never had an anti-immigration ad.
I spent $1 million on a “Grim Reaper” style advertising campaign explaining that when politicians say growth, they actually mean endless growth. This will either result in growing inequality, or possibly terrible consequences for our society.
Those views are not mine alone, but reflect the views of many educated people from around the world.
The reason I have never run and anti-immigration ad is that I am pro-immigration. I always have been. It is the reason Australia is such a fantastic country.
Yes, upon advice from experts, I believe we should return to the long-term average of about 70,000 per year – as I’m told this will mean there is a greater chance for a sustainable future, and proper full-time careers for our children and grandchildren.
70,000 per year is approximately the immigration number when Paul Keating was Prime Minister, and I’m told is high per capita by world standards.
I have consistently called for a substantial increase in the humanitarian intake. This would be clear if any of your researchers had even bothered to glance at the Fair Go manifesto, or if you had given the panelists the document to look at.
Your segment went downhill from there. The erroneous caption “anti-immigration ad” confirmed exactly what I had been told by politicians about the ABC. They have said to me:
“Dick, you are absolutely right. We need a population policy, but if I ever mentioned it I would be crucified by the ABC. They would immediately link my comment to being opposed to immigration…”
Not at any time during the whole segment did you actually discuss what I am on about. That is, it is not possible to have endless growth in a finite world.
Amazingly, your researchers or producers didn’t even bother to brief Alan Kirkland, the CEO of Choice, about my $1 million “Grim Reaper” television campaign. He actually said on your segment:
“I didn’t know about this campaign until the whole story broke about the ABC banning him.”
Once again, that proves exactly what Mark O’Connor is saying in Overloading Australia. That is, ABC television news and current affairs (and, I will add, The Drum), constantly show bias on the growth issue.
Every one of your panelists were clearly pro endless growth. I particularly loved the comment by Alan Kirkland:
“So we are getting a lot out of migration at the moment, geared predominantly towards delivering what employers need, and that is what fuels the economy, and it has been one of the most consistent forces driving economic growth in Australia, decade upon decade.”
Of course he doesn’t mention for an instant – nor do you, and I would have thought you would have as you are a mother of young children – that with automation and robotics there are real concerns that there will be enough jobs to give a decent full-time career to our young people in the future.
That is why, in my Fair Go manifesto, I have canvassed the idea of a living wage – not at all mentioned by any of your people.
Then of course there is the tired old point from Alan Kirkland:
“We absolutely need to have this debate because I guess the missing piece is saying that population has grown that that has fuelled economic growth but we have really dropped the ball on infrastructure and on housing in particular.”
Yes, that is the Harry Triguboff belief. You just need to spend more money on infrastructure and housing, and the endless growth will be solved.
Has Mr Kirkland forgotten that our high schools are now moving into high rise, and children are living like termites rather than free range with a back yard and a cubby house?
Georgina Downer from the Institute of Public Affairs, reckons, “It is quite rich for Dick Smith to say he is being ignored,” and then goes on saying that I pitched my whole argument about immigration “being incredibly damaging” when this is clearly not true.
Julia, why didn’t you bring up at any stage the issue that I am talking about? It is very simple. You can’t have endless growth in population and the use of resources and energy in a finite world. There is no discussion on this because the politicians have been totally intimidated because they may be branded “anti-immigration.”
It appears that the briefing note handed to panellists said that this was a “stunt.” Nothing could be further from the truth. Since producing my documentary on population, which was run on the ABC, I have worked constantly on this important issue that affects all Australians.
Of note, the documentary was commissioned not by television news and current affairs, but by a completely different ABC department, and the man who did the commissioning did not have his contract renewed.
Julia, you, like every mother, has a population plan – you didn’t have 20 kids. Australian families are sensible and have the number of children to whom they can give a good life. Why then shouldn’t we have a plan for the aggregate that says, “Let’s have the number of people in Australia that we can give a good life to.”
I would say that is pretty simple, but it is not discussed in any way – driven by the fear of politicians into being dishonestly distorted in their views, as your segment did to me last night.
Most importantly, I note the statement by marketing strategist Toby Ralph:
“I am very concerned that he is a guy who won’t vote for a Party that he is about to give $2 million to, and that seems to me a contradiction that you can’t fully move past. I think he needs a nice long lie down and a think about that.”
One simple phone call by your researchers to me would have informed them that I have never had any intention of making a donation to One Nation in relation to this issue. It is a complete fabrication.
I have attached a copy of the chapter in Overloading Australia entitled Media bias and ABC blues. I ask you to read it, and today at 4.30 pm I will be at the ABC Headquarters at Ultimo, waiting downstairs, and I expect to be given a chance to go on air to have the truth told.
I should point out that eight out of ten Australians agree with my views that we should have open discussion and a population plan – not endless growth, driven normally by endless greed.
Appendix: Descriptiion of The Drum episode 158
Tonight on The Drum: Julia Baird is joined by marketing strategist Toby Ralph, CEO of CHOICE Alan Kirkland, Georgina Downer from the Institute of Public Affairs and Fairfax national affairs editor Mark Kenny. #TheDrum,
If you take your information from the mainstream media, then you could have thought that, under Obama/Clinton/John Kerry, Syria and East Ukraine were being rescued from dastardly governments by a benevolent US-NATO, which is standing up to Grizzly-bear Russia. If you read the articles on Syria and Ukraine on this site, which takes its information from a wide range of sources, you would be aware of how scary the prospect of Hillary Clinton winning the US 2017 elections really was. Already guilty of tens of thousands of deaths in Libya and Syria as Obama's foreign secretary, she seemed to be enthusiastically marching straight into WW3 with the approval of George Soros, Obama, Merkel, Hollande, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Australia, Israel .... The mainstream press was encouraging everyone to get right in there behind her. Hillary's very shallow brand of globalism, dressed up as 'progressive' attitudes to the oppressed, seemed to fool a lot of people who presumably didn't read much outside the MSN or took their information from corrupt NGOs and ersatz socialist alliances that actually work as a front for the establishment. So how is Trump doing now?
Why does the corrupt establishment hate Trump?
When it became obvious that the establishment elite and the establishment press that support the growth lobby and which supported Hillary Clinton were dead against Trump, I became interested in what Trump had to say, despite the fact that he is an obscenely wealthy property developer. If so many powerful and destructive organisations and people hated him, astonishingly he might not be all bad.  As a member of the alternative press, I was naturally interested in any major politician who was able to go round and over the MSN. This interest sent me straight to the videos of Trump's rallies, where I could check what the MSN alleged and what actually went down.
When the mainstream media were predicting that Hillary would win, I was thinking they obviously were not listening to Trump's speeches, they had not seen the size of his audiences or his connection with them. For some reason they totally underestimated the importance for most ordinary people of the subjects Trump commented on. When the press called him stupid, but he overcame all the major obstacles in his way, including the mainstream press, I thought, this guy is a genius. You would have to be stupid to think otherwise.
Actually listening to Trump's rallies showed the man to be an exceptional communicator. In fact, he is obviously exceptional in very many ways: exceptional stamina, exceptional ability to think independently and to hold his own against would-be peer pressure. Maybe, I hoped against hope, he would also be an exceptional property developer with an exceptional sense of proportion who would use what he knew about the workings of the international development and growth lobby to bring their juggernaut to a halt. Because the juggernaut, composed of organised networks of corporations and investment is so huge that it has integrated actual governments and political parties. Watching as these networks vastly increased with the establishment of the internet, I have often felt that 'resistance is hopeless', continuing to resist nonetheless. Maybe, I thought, James Sinnamon, who built candobetter.net website, is correct after all that exceptional leaders can still exist and somehow pull people together despite the corporations and the corrupting influence of the super-charged monetary economy, the deep state and the military-industrial-mass-media complex. Trump's use of twitter seemed to illustrate this possibility.
Not your typical developer-speak: Trump's economic and moral philosophy
Granted Trump was talking about bulding a trillion dollars worth of new infrastructure, which is typical developer speak, but he wasn't talking up population, which is developer speech, and he was localising this project to the United States, which he correctly identified as greatly in need of new infrastructure. The former administrations were typical growth lobby servants, creating opportunities through war and globalisation, for privateers to profit from disaster management, sending in the bulldozers to clear the bodies and the rubble, cranes to stack the concrete blocks and financiers to organise the foreign debts.
In contrast to Hillary Clinton's war drums, globalism and dog-whistles to disaster capitalists,Trump talked about reducing foreign intervention and getting along with Russia and Syria. He wanted to halt illegal immigration, in part because it was taking local jobs. This is is well-established, particularly in regard to black jobs being replaced by illegal and legal hispanic workers. He has noted the associated growing poverty of black communities and the infrastructure decay in former manufacturing cities with large populations of black Americans.
He is not in favour of increasing the minimum wage. My understanding is that he believes the US could not compete with international labour prices if wages were increased there, but he seems to believe he will create a more propitious local/national situation by reducing imported slave-labour, decreasing taxes to attract investment in manufacturing, and increasing taxes on manufactures from corporations that have left the country in search of cheaper labour. In the event that Trump succeeds in this economic shoring-up program, using local labour, this would create a much better bargaining environment for local labour. It would also improve opportunities for small to medium businesses which have difficulty competing with international corporations that can cherry-pick labour, taxes, environment and other laws and country.
This is not your classical dirigiste economy, which workers traditionally fight for, with government influencing wages and living costs, but the above manner of improving work opportunity and security is a way of make wage increases possible. If immigration (legal and illegal) is also noticeably reduced and population growth falls back, inflationary pressure on fuel, water and housing would be reduced, thus cutting the cost of living and the need for higher wages. Concommitant security of work and housing tenure would be expected to increase democratic activity by freeing large quantities of people from energy and confidence-absorbing precarity. I have suggested and so have others that globalism with its open-borders policy on labour is a way of keeping people too precarious to engage politically.
Trump has been lambasted by 'liberals', MSN, Soros, et al for trying to stop the entry of terrorists via large streams of refugees from seven countries deemed by the previous administration to be a terrorist risk. Yet those previous administrations promoted and legitimated mass fear of terrorism when they engaged in very dubious wars to 'defeat terrorism' (thereby vastly increasing terrorist takfiri warriors) and implemented a swathe of new laws that have vastly reduced legal civil rights in the United States and other countries, in order to 'prevent terrorism'.
Astoundingly, super-businessman Trump wanted to get rid of the Trans Pacific Partnership, which threatened sovereign rights to control laws and conditions for environment, employment, labour movement and legal process.
Even more encouraging, after Trump was elected, he has immediately attempted to carry out his policy promises, starting with stopping America's involvement in the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). Yet the MSN hardly paused to report this and the "Left" simply ignored this gob-smacking promise-keeping and democratic event. The reason seems obvious: those in control of the MSN and the 'voice' of the "Left" are globalists and they were not really against the TPP.
Trump, who had a brother who died of alcoholism, is a non-drinker, who seems to understand rather than judge addiction. His political philosophy could largely be summed up as, "Look for the similarities, not the differences," which is core Alcoholics Anonymous. Identity politics is the opposite of this as in, 'Look for the differences, not the similarities'.
From many previous comments and interviews, it was obvious that Trump was not your typical Republican or puritan. I think he is highly sexed and ribald, but he seems to value the women in his life, showing great respect for his daughters. It was tragic for those who would be adversely affected that Trump had to agree to anti-abortion demands, but that was necessary to obtain Mike Pence's support which was crucial for any chance at winning the presidency. I can remember the absolute terror of the threat of pregnancy in a country and a time when abortion and contraception were both very difficult and expensive to obtain. The reversal of Roe vs Wade is not all that it is cracked up to be, but the right-wing Christian attitude to abortion, indeed towards sex, is daunting.
Military spending increase
One of those policies that Trump announced in advance was to beef up the military, at the same time as he said he was against foreign interventions. Whilst I can understand Trump's reduction of funding and staffing of the US Environmental protection agency and other places where his enemies are numerous - and he said that he would - what is most concerning about Donald Trump is his plan - announced only a day ago - to so vastly increase military spending. He says that it is for 'public safety and national security'. Does that mean that it will not be used to 'intervene' in the Middle East and elsewhere, but more for defense? He plans to upgrade outdated military technology. It is true that the United State's military technology is quite out of date. Russia, which spends far less than the United States already spends on its military, nonetheless has superior technology and is said to be able to defend itself against any US missile attack. However Russia has not attacked any country for years, unless you count the voluntary annexation of Crimea and backing separatists in Georgia in a move that ended up with the creation of South Ossetia as a separate state. These moves were understandable defensive responses to political incursion from EU/NATO which threatened Russian access to important trade-routes for oil and gas transport. We should ask the question: Which countries, if any, threaten the United States with war? Another consideration that might underlie Trump's boosting of the national military might be to take it back from private outsourcing. Or it might not. For several presidencies - in fact, since the invasion of Iraq - the military has been outsourced as a for profit to corporations like Haliburton. (See Video & transcript: Prof Sean McFate on rising danger of mercenary armies forming corporate military states or running amuck) These corporate entitities have replaced government paid soldiers with mercenaries. There have been fears that corporations and mercenaries are more likely than national armies to support perpetual war. The corporate entities have not been answerable to the United States public or their courts and are suspected of pillaging countries and reconstructing governments to their own advantage. (See Naomi Klein on 'disaster capitalism', for example: http://www.naomiklein.org/shock-doctrine/resources/disaster-capitalism-in-action/tags/iraq.) However Trump's most recent pronouncements about putting boots on the ground in the Middle East have sounded as if he has fallen into the grip of the perpetual war military. Unless he carries through with remarks about cooperating with the Syrian and Russian governments to eradicate Daesh. (See https://sputniknews.com/military/201702271051092603-us-military-strategy-troops-syria/.) Will Trump surprise us with his exceptionality again here?
TRUMP: "We've pursued this rebuilding in the hopes that we will never have to use this military. And, I will tell you that is my - I would be so happy if we never had to use this - but our country will never have had a military like the military we're about to build and rebuild." Reassuring remarks made by Trump as he gave his speech to joint session of Congress, February 28, 2017
With regard to climate change and carbon gases, war is probably the biggest contributor, but it is never officially counted. The Obama regime increased wars whilst increasing talk of C02 reduction. (See http://www.naomiklein.org/articles/2009/12/fight-climate-change-not-wars.) For all its environmental agencies and rhetoric, it increased fracking and local fossil-fuel operations as well. It was open-borders oriented, which meant perpetual increase in population and demand for energy in the United States. What Trump's military policy had on the side of the environment was his stated willingness to get on with the rest of the world and refrain from war and his willingness to reduce immigration, which is the major contributor to population growth in the United States.
 For an in-depth analysis of some important craven activities of the Clinton Foundation and other NGOs in Haiti after that big earthquake, read Jonathan M. Katz, The Big Truck That Went By: How the World Came to Save Haiti and Left Behind a Disaster, Palgrave McMillan, 2013. Then you have the White Helmets, Doctors without Borders, Human Rights Watch, various "Greens", GetUp, Change.org, MoveOn.org, all marketed by the mainstream, funded by the establishment, justifying foreign interventions and often promoting open borders. It is amazing how few people look beyond nice labels. In fact, this is probably a skill acquired in later adulthood, from life experience.
 Murdoch Press has been a bit of an exception to this rule. Murdoch could be looking to buy up cheap some of the 'fake news' media that Trump has 'trumped' and he probably also sees Trump's enemy, Soros, as a competitor for press influence.
 http://newamericamedia.org/2016/06/growing-temp-industry-shuts-out-black-workers-exploits-latinos.php http://www.fairus.org/issue/immigration-and-job-displacement Here too is a general breakdown in employment trends for various 'races': https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2013/11/the-workforce-is-even-more-divided-by-race-than-you-think/281175/ And here is a history of black/white employment trends published in the 1970s which shows that there was a period when black and white employment rates were similar due to protection from one undercutting the other, but then that employers started to relocate overseas or to import foreign labour in order to undercut black and white. Edna Bonacich, "Advanced Capitalism and Black/White Race Relations in the United States: A Split Labor Market Interpretation," American Sociological Review, Vol. 41, No. 1 (Feb., 1976), pp. 34-51 http://www.jstor.org/stable/2094371
Ads are now appearing on the internet, asking people to sponsor an Australian Child. They are from the Smith Family charity. https://www.thesmithfamily.com.au/sponsor-a-child They talk about how difficult it is for families to pay Australia's [world highest] rents, food and bills, then how difficult it is to finance the necessities for education. "One in seven Australian children and young people are growing up in poverty, where even the bare necessities are hard to come by. In a family where there is no regular income, money goes on food, rent and bills. Finding money for a school uniform, proper shoes, textbooks or the next school excursion is often impossible."
"You can change the life of a disadvantaged Australian child
For $48 per month you can make a lasting difference to the life of one of these children.
Because it takes a big caring family to raise a child, each student is paired with two sponsors. This ensures your sponsored child receives life-changing, comprehensive support as long as they are at school, and enables them to acquire the skills they will need to create a better future.
Together, we can give some of Australia's most vulnerable children the support they urgently need."
Tales of the 'One In Ten', published on you tube in 2014, is a skilful and enthralling animated web series based on the real stories of Australian children from disadvantaged backgrounds who struggle daily with the effects of financial hardship. The menu for the series is here: https://www.thesmithfamily.com.au/stories/tales-of-the-one-in-ten
It is absolutely horrific that Australia's politicians, corporate think tanks and mainstream media, have allowed it to come to this, with marketers like Bernard Salt anointed as informed commentators, continuously painting rises in housing prices as a great thing and claiming that Australia needs more and more people. And the professional Greens and the various faux-socialists in Australia, funded by Soros, posing as 'revolutionaries', yet disdainful of civil rights, falsely treating their own countrymen as rich and undeserving, totally focused on identity politics and open borders, uninterested in the causes of war or the consequences of population stampede.
Candobetter.net has been publishing on these problems for years now. Blind Freddy could see them looming, then rushing towards us, running us down. Our leaders are guilty, guilty, guilty.
 Australian Bureau of Statistics 2016. Labour Force Status and Other Characteristics of Families, June 2015 Data, Released August 2016.
This article is about the real reason why the medicare rebates don't cover the cost of doctors' services and therefore why the practice of general medicine is increasingly unsatisfactory for doctors and patients.
I was inspired to attempt this article by a letter just published in the Age because it articulated my own concerns. The only thing it lacks is that it fails to give the principle reason for the very high costs of running a medical practice.
It is particularly galling that Labor has adopted the catchcry "Save Medicare". Apparently Medicare is sacred and untouchable. This attitude prevents any possibility of the reform that it desperately needs. It is also galling that Labor is spruiking that the removal of the freeze on rebates will allow GPs to keep bulk billing and this will "save Medicare". The current rebate for a standard GP consultation lasting up to 20minutes is $37.05. Without the freeze, the rebate would be around $39 and by mid-2018 around $40. If GPs had to depend on such paltry amounts for their incomes, Medicare would have died a long time ago.
The truth is that GPs who do not see a patient every six minutes can continue to bulk bill by supplementing their incomes with various care plans, health assessments, home medicine reviews, case conferences, practice incentive payments etc. These processes allow GPs to generate a reasonable income, but there has never been proof that they improve health outcomes. The lowly consultation rebate, frozen or not, encourages GPs to manufacture incomes from these dubious methods. Some, dare I say it, "dodgy" doctors do more than their fair share of "dodgy"' care plans.
The most important 15 minutes in the health system is the consultation with GPs. It must be valued appropriately so that GPs can take a patient's history, examine them and think about a treatment plan that avoids the current blowout of follow-on costs in investigations and referrals. Medicare must be reformed. Neither Labor nor the Coalition have the honesty and courage to do this. It is more complicated than Labor's puerile and disingenuous sloganeering suggests.
Dr Philip Barraclough, Highett
Why do medical practices cost too much to run?
I'll give you a hint. It's not the insurance costs.
A couple of years ago I went for an interview at a GP clinic in an inner suburb of Melbourne, in the region of Armadale or Toorak. It was explained to me that the practice tried to limit the amount of time spent with patients and to make up costs by running various electronic, self-evaluating programs, to diagnose various mental health issues, such as depression. The hard-faced GP interviewing me was keen to tease out any tendency I might have to spend time on supportive or other psychotherapy and it didn't take him long to detect these.
"That might be alright for a GP practising in the outer suburbs," he sniffed, "But there is no way we are going to cover costs here and make a profit by spending time with patients. Our mental health nurses here have got it down to a fine art. They use self-evaluation forms as a way of interacting therapeutically with the patients and then they use the same forms for their reports. Personally I think you may be a little too one-to-oneish for this practice."
I needed the job, so tried to sound very flexible on these issues, but he wasn't fooled. He asked me whether I had any political philosophy and, before I could answer, he told me that I really should get familiar with Ayn Rand. He was the first person I have ever met, outside a novel, with the exception of some 'counter-culture' heroine addicts in the 1980s, who had ever expressed any open approval of this writer. I had heard that Rand's 'objectivist' philosophy had enjoyed a resurgence with US and other neocons, but I admit that I was shocked to find her lurking in a Melbourne GP clinic. I guess that made me naive, however, if I knew my GP was an avid fan of Ayn Rand, I would run a mile!
But, anyway, the thing that most interested me about this job interview was the acknowledgement that the cost of rental and real-estate in Australia, particularly within the inner suburbs, was so prohibitive that a doctor wishing to succeed simply could not afford to spend time with patients and, furthermore, artfully deployed gimmicks and electronic questionnaires to take the place of proper physical and mental examinations and treatment.
Because the major cost of doing business in Australia is the cost of land and rents. A business-owner must pay for two premises: the one he or she sleeps in and the one they do business at. Furthermore, they must pay their staff high enough wages for their staff to be able to afford Melbourne's high rentals and house prices. Australia has some of the highest land prices in the world and that goes a long way to explain why small and medium business enterprises so frequently fail. It also explains why Australian manufacturing is in decline and unable to compete with overseas products which do not have nearly as high costs. And high land prices drive up the cost of everything else, including power and water. Even insurance goes up because it must meet this inflation.
And it explains why medicare rebates are no longer adequate to cover patient visits and why GPs practically give you the bum's rush out of their offices almost as soon as you enter, why they won't let you tell them more than one thing that is wrong with you, and why they won't take time to discuss their diagnosis, and why their diagnosis is so often wrong!
Service quality probably increases with distance from the city as the land and rent costs diminish. Maybe some city GPs tak refuge in Ayn Rand in order to rationalise their increasing exploitation and degrading of social capital in an effort to make ends meet.
Whose fault is it?
And whose fault is this? It is the fault of the growth lobby, which has succeeded in raising immigration rates so high in Australia that there is permanently rising inflation of land-prices. Both major political parties and the Greens are responsible parts of this lobby. The first two have massive investments in land-speculation and financing. The Greens utterly refuse to say anything against the engineering of massive population growth in Australia.
The following article publishes an email sent by Tony Recsei, President of Save our Suburbs NSW, to SOS members and friends. Dated Thursday, 26 May 2016, it is a report on his attendance at a luncheon organised by the Greater Sydney Commission (GSC) in Paramatta. The GSC is a growth lobby tool. Here Recsei points out that the 30 minute city does not exist as planners describe it and suggests that the Commission should investigate low density cities where the cost of housing is also low and find out what they are doing right, instead of continuing to visit high density cities. See the SOS NSW blogspot here.
Yesterday I attended a luncheon organized by the Greater Sydney Commission (GSC) at their offices in Parramatta. The GSC was formed to lead metropolitan planning for the Greater Sydney Region. Twelve people attended the luncheon, half of them being members of the GSC including chairperson Lucy Turnbull and chief executive officer Sarah Hill. The rest were from various government and non-government organisations.
A pleasant atmosphere prevailed and people talked freely. GSC Social Commissioner Heather Nesbitt introduced the discussion, emphasizing the need for livability and collaboration and trust. Sarah Hill said priorities include preparing district plans, getting out of the office and talking to people. There needs to be plans for a greater Parramatta, the Western Sydney Airport, linking infrastructure with planning, providing advice to the Minister and making awards and grants. Lucy Turnbull said they will try to get a whole of government approach.
In turn we were each invited to say what we felt.
· Save Our Suburbs focusses on the underlying rationale behind planning in the state. That rationale relates to increasing density. A fundamental tension results as the community does not want increased density. This dichotomy bedevils all attempts at consultation.
· Neither high-profile high-density advocate Professor Peter Newman nor anyone else can give me an example of a high-density city that does not suffer from the ills they claim high-density will alleviate.
· A previous planning minister, Brad Hazard had led a delegation to investigate planning in North America but only visited jurisdictions with high-density policies. They did not visit the more successful cities which happen to have low density policies.
· No advantages claimed for high-density policies stand up to any scrutiny. These policies cause increased congestion, unaffordable housing and adverse health impacts (such as a 70% increase in psychosis). Forcing in high-density when most people want single-residential reduces housing choice. High-density results in excessive greenhouse gas emissions. In high-rise per person energy consumption and embodied energy is double that of single-residential. Such emissions represent 30% of people’s annual emissions while transport represents only 10%.
Lucy Turnbull referred to the “30 minute city” - that is a city divided into sections where people in 30 minutes or less can easily get to work, shops, schools etc. and walk to many destinations. I asked where is such a place. People might initially find a dwelling near their place of work but subsequently change their job without moving house; other members of the household may work or study somewhere else. I pointed such reduction in travel times does not happen in high-density cities. For example Hong Kong has average travel times to work of 47 minutes compared to 35 minutes in Sydney. Also, in Hong Kong only about 20% of people work in the area where they live. This proportion is about the same as in low density Los Angeles. A city with “30 minute” sections is a figment of the imagination.
They asked what North American cities should Brad Hazard have visited. I suggested Houston as an example where houses cost about ¼ of their equivalents in Sydney and suggested the GSC should send a delegation there to see what Houston does right and what it does wrong.
My discussion took about 30 minutes of the 2 hour luncheon time.
As we left one of the GSC members said to me “Keep on keeping us honest”!
It was a hot night and twelve of us approached an impressive spread of endangered sea-creatures at a large table under cover outside. It was Don's birthday party. We had met him a few months ago at the local squash courts, and we only recognised four of the other guests, also squash players. I looked around me carefully. Would we all get on and have a laugh, reach furious agreement on something important, or would my friend and I be silenced in the face of others’ opinions in our effort not to make waves? Worse, would my friend open his big mouth? Unlike the 'old days' when it was so exciting to meet new people, on this particular evening I was plagued with doubt because of the strong political divides that are appearing in Australian society.
You may be wondering why I would approach this seemingly ordinary and benign situation with what appeared to be almost dread, or you may, to the contrary, have experienced a similar dinner.
I have thought about why I was so uncharacteristically shy about talking to new people and here is my explanation.
Winners and losers
Some of you may remember the 1990s. This was when I noticed that the concept of “winners and “losers” came into the vernacular. I remember at the time, a teen-aged friend of a friend declaring with great assurance that the world was divided into “winners" and “losers" and nothing in between. I remembered thinking with unease that this was a very unattractive, inhumane ideology.
Twenty years later, this young lady seems to have been right in practice! Australia is no longer a country where we earn our respective livings by being useful to other people and to the society in exchange for a fair reward. Now everything is so polarised with some making a killing in the 'right' industries with others just getting the crumbs and struggling with unfriendly working hours in low paid pointless jobs which did not exist thirty years ago.
It did not take long into the dinner conversaton before I had a feeling that I was sitting down to dine with some of the 'winners' that the intervening years had produced and that I might not like how they had come to win.
The first disturbing declaration, quite early in the evening was from 'Travis'. His shaved head and bling-cufflinks reflecting the light from the charcoal patio-heater, Travis told all assembled that he made his pile by helping with websites to assist overseas buyers to purchase property in Australia. "How lovely” most murmured in appreciation of his entrepreneurship. He also added that he assisted business /entrepreneur migrants to get their visas to enter Australia. Once more there was a generally appreciative and admiring response from those present. I remained silent as I was overcome with the certainty that I was dining with the enemy. This person was helping people from overseas to exploit Australia and to make housing unaffordable for locals, I thought! To me this is a disservice to the community. This braggart was making himself a “winner" at the expense of all the poor “losers” especially young first home buyers.
Travis then got onto the subject of possums and how none of us would want to know what he had "done with some of them”. His cruel remark revolted me and I felt almost panic stricken! This opportunist was not only cheerfully assisting the overpopulation and densification which displaces urban possums, he was further (and illegally) punishing the hapless marsupials.
How did I end up at the same dinner table as this monster?
When social capital still punched above greed
I guess, thirty years ago, unimaginative and insensitive creatures like Travis would have found their own level in ordinary jobs on modest salaries. Today's system, however, is geared to making winners out of those for whom the money ingredient is everything.
A drink or two later, pleasant looking Bernice offered her opinion on the negligence of the current state Labor government in not building a particular controversial toll road. Yes, she declared , Melbourne would need this toll road as we will soon be a city of 7 million. There was not a hint of regret at all that Melbourne would lose in this transition even from the overgrown chaotic, under- serviced, dysfunctional metropolis of 4.5 million that it is now. My throat was now so constricted that I failed to chime in that if we keep going at the current rate of growth we will be 20 million in a few decades. Actually that wouldn’t have fazed others present as one of them was from London, an already a bloated megalopolis.
I prudently remained silent but was inwardly seething as I was thinking of all that would be lost with new road following new road road to accommodate ever increasing traffic in a vicious circle but never managing to do so.
This same woman further warmed to her topic. “I think Melbourne should be more like Dubai.” she declared. “In Dubai they just go ahead and build things! They get on with it and don’t get bogged down in red tape, do they Roger?” Roger joined his wife in commending the way things are done in Dubai and asking rhetorically why Melbourne could not be more like it.
Why did they care so much? I wondered, but I knew if I started an actual discussion, that we would come to blows.
I am grateful for any red tape that remains in Melbourne that gives those affected some slight chance to fight back against the destruction of their surroundings, especially from multi-storey developments and other infrastructure to cater for never-ending population growth.
I checked my phone to see the time and nudged my friend under the table. “Can we go home now!” I wailed inwardly!
These people would have been OK (apart from the possum sadist) had I met them in a different era, but now, in this era of winners and losers, I actually identify more with the losers and am out of place at a dinner party where people have done well out of the prevailing system.
We said good night and left the party, emotions churning at this near perfect demonstration of the increasing and undesirable divisions of wealth in our society. It reminded me of visiting a banking friend in Indonesia years ago, when we dined with friends of the then government. At the time it was like visiting some laughably unselfconcious members of an exotic corrupt power-elite, but the same kind of corrupt values are now reaching further and further down into Australian society and it isn't amusing close-up.
“So, increasing the population – fast population growth and poor planning – they’re like a vicious circle. When I worked as a planner, I’d go to VCAT and, quite often, development applications would be turned down by councils and the developer’s argument would be, ‘I know, ideally, this isn’t the best place to build this development, but you do know that Melbourne’s population is going to double by 2040-something and so, therefore, we’ve got to start building high-density in areas where we wouldn’t normally build it, because, you know, unless we’re just going to sprawl outwards forever…’. But both are going to happen, so we’ve got to understand that rapid population growth and developers who are making sure that they’re taking control of the planning system - they’re intertwined.” Mark Allen, former planner, of Population, Permaculture and Planning in a speech at the Sustainable Living Festival in Melbourne, 14 February 2016.
Mark Allen of Population Permaculture and Planning asks: Is it possible to accommodate a growing population without unacceptably high density living and urban sprawl? If so, what rate of population growth should we be looking at and what types of community should we be creating? This workshop discusses the merits of village style living in combination with permaculture principles and asks the question, where do we go from here?
Video inside: The Kennett era in Victoria represented a neoliberal makeover of government, state and local. Swept to power during a global property collapse in 1992, the Liberal premier imposed radical and rapid transformation without electoral platform or forewarning. It was a classic case of the international phenomenon documented by Naomi Klein in Shock Doctrine. This talk focuses on the transformation of the core municipality of greater Melbourne – the Melbourne City Council in its historic context. It was disempowered and its citizens disenfranchised between 1992-9 to give the Growth Machine of property interests and state government free rein. That Machine emerged from the mid 1970s, being reinforced under the previous Labor government, 1982-92, as the manufacturing sector was phased out federally; cranes on the skyline was Premier Cain’s catchcry. Kennett capitalized on a political and institutional tradition in which property interests (entrenched in the Victorian Legislative Council) dominated from inception. Other Australian colonies were founded by government rather than land seekers.
This speech was given at the SPAVICTAS AGM at Ross House on 5 September 2015. The speech is based on Dr Munro's PhD, downloadable from http://www.canberra.edu.au/researchrepository/items/daa21f8b-4758-410c-954a-a6409d3fdaca/1/ as .pdf of 3.44MB. Dr Munro mentions, as a contrast to Kennett's notion of 'commonsense', Thomas Payne's book, "Commonsense", which was banned in Britain and became immensely popular. (Download a free copy here.)
Video inside: This article is the text of a speech by Sheila Newman about how Kennett Government policies pushed up population growth in Victoria and Australia. Whilst many people remained for a long time under the impression that immigration numbers were a Federal domain, he began the practise of using regional migration definitions to attract people to urban Melbourne. He also de-toothed Victorian industrial law, affecting wages, condition and enforcement. The new interpretation of regional migration was adapted by other States and territories. Kennett's attack on Victorian industrial laws would ultimately pave the way for Workchoices and a much less effective system for ensuring that imported workers were not paid less than Australians, creating a new pull-factor in Australia.
Regional migration under Kennett
This is the text of a speech given to SPAVICTAS AGM 2015.
Way under the radar of the general public, the Kennett Government (1992-1999) began a practice of using the rural category of ‘region in need of migration’ to reclassify Melbourne itself.
Melbourne was thus reclassified a regional migration area by the Kennett Government in 1998, which meant it became a destination for people who traditionally migrated to country regions under softer entry rules. 
Regional migration categories permitted easier entry for immigrants. Rural employers could sponsor workers for positions they claimed they were unable to fill, with fewer tests than urban employers and immigrants coming in under classical federal schemes. They could also sponsor a wider range of family reunion, such as nephews, to work in family businesses. 
The trend that Kennett started was imitated by the other States. Over time all the other states also declared their CBDs in need of immigration under regional migration rules. This was the time of the rise of the internet. Before this time, immigration had been a long drawn out process that was hard for individuals to initiate or get approval for. Now Australian States started up state Immigration websites advertising state and private sponsorship of immigrant workers and their families. Currently, these include:
In Victoria, liveinvictoria.gov.com.au; Note that the Victorian government has just changed the name of their liveinvictoria.gov.au website to https://liveinmelbourne.vic.gov.au/. Probable reason is that they know people are onto the old site.
in WA www.migration.wa.gov.au;
South Australia, migration.sa.gov.au;
in Queensland, migration.qld.gov.au;
Northern Territory, australiasnorthernterritory.com.au; Tasmania, migration.tas.gov.au
Kennet was congratulated by people in favour of high Migration for having increased migration to the regions and reversed the long-term trend of migration out of Victoria, much of it to Queensland.
This perception was criticised because the so-called ‘regional migrants’ mostly ended up in urban Melbourne. 
Nonetheless, I would make the following case that these migration policies and several of Jeff Kennett’s other policies were a major factor in creating conditions which would set Australian on a terrible path to rapid and uncontrolled mass migration.
Kennet’s changes to industrial law made it easier to import cheap labour
Before the Kennett government, most Victorian wage earners worked under state awards which prescribed minimum conditions and wages, including holidays, benefits and penalties for an extensive range of employment roles. Any employee could look these up or have them explained easily by the Victorian Industrial Relations Commission, through a hotline called Wageline – where I worked. But in 1993, the Kennett Government abolished the Victorian Industrial Relations Act, replacing it with the weaker and harder to enforce, and poorly staffed, Employee Relations Act. 
Other Australian states imitated this initiative.
Unions scrambled to cover employees by registering new awards under Federal law, under s.51(xxxv) of the Australian constitution. These awards, however, had to be negotiated between individual organisations and their employees. Their enforcement was very limited under the Federal constitution. They were mostly inaccessible and incomprehensible for individual employees.
This right-wing revolution in Victorian industrial law under Kennett in 1993 set the scene for Workchoices under the John Howard government, (11 March 1996 to 3 December 2007). The Howard Government, entering this weakened industrial law and industrial relations situation, went on to widen the use of the corporations clause in the Australian constitution, which exempted corporations from many employer obligations. 
Up until now Australian employers had not had much to gain by importing immigrant workers because they had been required to employ them under the same industrial awards as native born workers. That meant that there was not the same opportunity to import cheap labour as there was, notoriously, in the United States.
Today we are in a situation where the Australian labour market has been greatly deregulated and it is now possible to employ overseas immigrants according to individually tailored employment contracts where they have little or no bargaining power or recourse for legal protection.
Coupled with the deregulation of immigration, this has created local pull factors which the Australian growth lobby has been keen both to lobby for and to exploit.
Deregulation of housing market and Rise of the Internet as factors
Two further processes have helped to expand the trends that Jeff Kennett’s actions set in motion. These further processes were:
- Deregulation of the Australian housing market to permit overseas purchase and investment
- The rise of the internet, which was exploited by state governments, private migration agents in conjunction with employers; universities seeking students; and property financiers, conveyancers, developers and real-estate agencies, to globalise Australian employment, public institutions, universities, and property.
Steve Bracks and John Brumby would continue Kennett’s big population campaign, despite the different brand presentations of their politics.
Was Kennett aware of his contribution to setting in motion Australia’s unfortunate population tsunami? He was a great population growth spruiker and had served formally as Minister for Housing, Immigration and Ethnic Affairs in 1981 under the Hamer government. He has made many public declarations on his perception that very high immigration is desirable.
In The Age in March 1998, the following businessmen and politician argued that population growth was desirable and inevitable: Tony Berg, then Chief Executive Officer of Boral Industries (building materials and components) and still, in 2001, director of numerous banking, insurance and property trust related groups and holdings, and the Midland Brick Company; Jeff Kennett, populationnist Premier of Victoria (who presided over a developmentalist Ministry for Planning and Infrastructure which decreased housing lot sizes under a code and administration largely unresponsive to public outrage), and Phil Ruthven, who again claimed that by the end of the 21st century Australia's population would be 150 million.
An article in Civil Engineers Australia – December 1998, entitled, “Big Population Growth Needed, Forum Told – enVision ’98 Conference", reported speakers for high immigration and a big population. Among them were Tony Berg, Jeff Kennett, Alan Stockdale, Treasurer of the Kennett Victorian Liberal Government, Dr Jack Wynhoven, chairman of the enVision 98 organising committee and chief executive officer of Connell Wagner (Engineering and major infrastructure projects) and John White, chief executive officer of Richard Pratt's Visy [Paper and Packaging but also manufacturers of Visy board, a building material] Industries. (Pratt was Vice President of the Victorian Chamber of Manufactures and has extensive involvement in business.)
The theme of needing a big population in order to repel invaders remains popular. In "More Migrants, Pleads Kennett", by Christine Jackman in the Melbourne Herald Sun, 12/2/1999, Victorian Premier, Jeff Kennett was quoted telling "a New York business lunch" that "Australia's population was so low it would not even be able to defend Tasmania", attacking immigration levels as "almost negligible".... and underestimating them at "about 60,000 a year." (Source of quote is Sheila Newman, The Growth Lobby and its Absence, Chapter 6, http://tinyurl.com/p4ykwup)
The following graphs show interstate migration trends over the period discussed
 State Government spokesman, Jeremi Moule, 2003, cited in Catherine Best, “Culture shock strikes region,” The Courier, Fairfax regional media, December 12, 2003, http://www.thecourier.com.au/story/577142/culture-shock-strikes-region/
 “Persons sponsored by relatives in the SDAS visa subclasses currently receive concessions in two ways: no points test to pass and a lower English language threshold criterion. More than half of those visaed are being sponsored by relatives living in Melbourne. Given that the underlying reason for providing points concessions is to attract persons to locations where the Government is anxious to promote settlement (notably regional locations) there does not seem to be any rationale for Melbourne to continue as a designated area in the SDAS visa subclass.” Evaluation of the General Skilled Migration Categories, Dept of Immigration, March 2006, by Bob Birrell et al, “Evaluation of the General Skilled Migration Categories,” Dept of Immigration, March 2006, p.178. http://www.flinders.edu.au/sabs/nils-files/reports/GSM_2006_Full_report.pdf
The Skilled Regional (489) visa is a provisional skilled migration visa that can provide a pathway to permanent residence. The visa is administered by the Commonwealth Government’s Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP). Prior to applying for this visa you must be nominated by a state or territory government, or sponsored by an eligible relative living in Australia.
The Victorian Government offers state nomination under the Skilled Regional (489) visa for highly skilled and eligible professionals and tradespeople who want to work in regional Victoria. Source: . [Last accessed on 27 September 2015]. More general visas on that page : http://www.liveinvictoria.vic.gov.au/visas-and-immigrating/state-nomination#.Vd_lAys_i1Q .
 John O'Leary, “The Resurgence of marvellous Melbourne - trends in Population distribution in Victoria, 1991-1996,” People and Place, Vol.7,no.1 and Catherine Best, “Culture shock strikes region,” The Courier, Fairfax regional media, December 12, 2003, http://www.thecourier.com.au/story/577142/culture-shock-strikes-region/)
 My reference is personal experience in the Victorian Department of Labor at the time, and, Richard Tracey, “Standing Fast, Federal Regulation of Industrial Relations in Victoria,” H.R. Nicholls Society, http://archive.hrnicholls.com.au/archives/vol14/vol14-3.php]
 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WorkChoices: “Relying on the corporations power of Section 51(xx) of the Constitution, the Howard Government extended the coverage of the federal industrial relations system to an estimated 85% of Australian employees. All employees of "constitutional corporations" (i.e. trading, financial, and foreign corporations) became covered by the WorkChoices system. Other constitutional powers used by the Federal Government to extend the scope of the legislation included the territories power to cover the Australian territories, including the external territories of the Christmas and Cocos Islands, the external affairs power, the interstate and overseas trade and commerce power, and the powers of the Commonwealth to legislate for its own employees. Victoria voluntarily had referred its industrial relations powers to the Commonwealth in 1996, under Section 51(xxxvii) of the Constitution.”
 The Age, 16 March, 1999, "Kennett calls for big rise in migrant intake", Cited in Sheila Newman, The Growth Lobby and its Absence, Chapter 6, http://researchbank.swinburne.edu.au/vital/access/manager/Repository/swin:7395 (with appendices) or (without appendices) http://tinyurl.com/p4ykwup
 Miles Lewis, Suburban Backlash, Bloomings Books, Victoria, Australia, 1999, p.viii. Cited in Sheila Newman, The Growth Lobby and its Absence, Chapter 6, http://researchbank.swinburne.edu.au/vital/access/manager/Repository/swin:7395 (with appendices) or (without appendices) http://tinyurl.com/p4ykwup Cited in Sheila Newman, The Growth Lobby and its Absence, Chapter 6, http://researchbank.swinburne.edu.au/vital/access/manager/Repository/swin:7395 (with appendices) or (without appendices) http://tinyurl.com/p4ykwup
 “Trevor Sykes, The Bold Riders, Allen and Unwin, St. Leonards, New South Wales, Second Edition, 1996, (Year 2000 reprint), p.337 mentions that Pratt controlled Regal Insurance and Occidental Insurance in the late 1980s and was one of the funders of a shelf company called Bacharach Pty Ltd, which corporate cowboy, Abe Goldberg, used to purchase Brick and Pipe Industries, which he believed to be an unrealised land bank. Additional information about business interests was obtained from the Business Who's Who of Australia, Dun and Bradstreet Marketing P/L, 35th Edition, 2001.” Cited in Sheila Newman, The Growth Lobby and its Absence, Chapter 6, http://researchbank.swinburne.edu.au/vital/access/manager/Repository/swin:7395 (with appendices) or (without appendices) http://tinyurl.com/p4ykwup
 Christine Jackman, "More Migrants, Pleads Kennett", Melbourne Herald Sun, 12/2/1999, p.16.
UPDATE 29 September 2015, Click here for video of speech.SPAVicTas AGM, 5 September 2015, Ross House, 247 Flinders Lane, 4th Floor Conference Room: 1.45 for 2pm. Speaker: Dr Angela Munro, Public Policy expert: "Kennett's 'commonsense revolution' and the Melbourne 'growth machine'. "The unilateral substitution of an appointed commission for the elected Melbourne City Council in October, 1993 by the incoming, neoliberal Victorian Government, was followed by its disempowerment as a democratic institution before reinstatement in emasculated form in 1996. The resounding defeat of the Labor government, in 1992, coincided with an unprecedented global property collapse whose cataclysmic economic and political consequences in Melbourne were conducive to this marginalisation of the City Council and citizenry. A historic dual conflict over the governance and development of central Melbourne between the Victorian Government and the City Council on the one hand, and between central city property interests and citizenry on the other, was immediately resolved. Whereas efficiencies justified council amalgamations statewide, the Melbourne City Council was subject to separate and extreme centralisation of state government power, deregulation of urban planning and de-democratisation as a micro CBD council."
Sustainable Population Australia,
Victorian and Tasmanian branch
Annual General Meeting 2015
On - Saturday September 5th
At - 1.45 for 2.00pm. (if you arrive late and the front door is closed – ring 0405 825769 or 0409742927)
Venue: Ross House, 247 Flinders Lane, Melbourne 3000 Hayden Raysmith Conference Room, Fourth Floor. – (Turn left from the stairwell; or from lift through fire door and then left. It is the corner room).
Guest Speaker : Dr. Angela Munro, Public Policy expert:
"Kennett's 'commonsense revolution' and the Melbourne 'growth machine"
"The unilateral substitution of an appointed commission for the elected Melbourne City Council in October, 1993 by the incoming, neoliberal Victorian Government, was followed by its disempowerment as a democratic institution before reinstatement in emasculated form in 1996. The resounding defeat of the Labor government, in 1992, coincided with an unprecedented global property collapse whose cataclysmic economic and political consequences in Melbourne were conducive to this marginalisation of the City Council and citizenry. A historic dual conflict over the governance and development of central Melbourne between the Victorian Government and the City Council on the one hand, and between central city property interests and citizenry on the other, was immediately resolved. Whereas efficiencies justified council amalgamations statewide, the Melbourne City Council was subject to separate and extreme centralisation of state government power, deregulation of urban planning and de-democratisation as a micro CBD council."
Sheila Newman (Masters by Research in Environmental Sociology, specialising in population and environment), writer and researcher, current president of the SPA VicTas branch whose own research is complementary will add population specific details to fill in the jig saw of the picture of the population pressures we are experiencing in Victoria: "Victoria's population numbers under Kennett."
The Fairfax media sank to a new low recently in pushing its in-house pro-population bias (in The Age) by publishing commentary on this crucial issue from the Australian Population Institute.
Unfortunately, the article, ‘We should look to the west as our population swells’, by Jane Nathan, 16 July 2015, highlights the way in which the left-liberal establishment in Australia, including Fairfax, now sings from the same song sheet as free-market growth maniacs. While it may be claimed that the population-boosting rant presented in this article is the opinion of the Australian Population Institute and not Fairfax, Fairfax, of course, can exercise considerable bias in its selection of opinion piece commentary. It has a broad menu of pro-population vested interests to choose from. It is worth mentioning that material presented as commentary or opinion does not have to stand up to any serious standard of factual accuracy or rationality in the eyes of the Australian Press Council. Commentary, therefore, provides an opportunity to push an in-house view to extremes without being very accountable about it. Fairfax may respond that ‘balance’ will be struck over the longer-term with the subsequent publication of opposing views. Just when this may occur or whether subsequent opinion would directly address the inaccuracies and bias of commentary like this within a reasonable time frame remains unclear.
The opinion piece presents a one-dimensional account of booming population growth in the western suburbs of Melbourne, with no recognition, let alone discussion, of the potential short or long-term damage that rapid population growth may cause. It is unadulterated propaganda. Without any consideration of such challenges, the core message of the commentary is simple: rapid population growth is manageable and beneficial; the suburb of Sunshine in Melbourne’s west is an example to be emulated everywhere; and such rapid population growth is compatible with the creation and maintenance of thriving harmonious communities.
In advocating this mind-numbingly superficial view, a number of spurious assumptions are made. It is stated that the tertiary-educated population of Sunshine has increased from 21 to 50 per cent, and the number of women working has increased markedly. What are we to make of such claims in relation to the issue of population growth? The implication is that rapid population growth has the effect of spreading wealth around – that population growth has lifted Sunshine up from being a down trodden working class area to one of higher social status. The reality is that Sunshine remains one of the most socio-economically disadvantaged areas within metropolitan Melbourne. The 2011 Census showed that Sunshine remained in the bottom decile in the Australian Bureau of Statistics Index of Socio-Economic Disadvantage.
The implied linkages are logically flawed and factually feeble. Levels of tertiary education have risen across the board over time and would likely have risen in Sunshine to some degree, despite its low socio-economic status, in the absence of population growth. As to the number of working women in Sunshine, the growth is presented in terms of raw numbers and not rates. The cited numerical growth in employed women is likely to be a simple reflection of overall population growth and not improved labour market access for women in Sunshine. In any case, historically, the workforce participation rates of disadvantaged women in poor areas have often been high – out of necessity. The question should be -- what proportion of women in Sunshine has access to decent jobs? No matter how this question may be answered, the links to population growth remain tenuous.
Reference is made to the provision of new infrastructure in Sunshine, to serve the burgeoning population. The suggestion is that without population growth, we would not have such wonderful new infrastructure. Again, there is a worrying absence of balance and objectivity in this claim. It is widely accepted that rapid population growth in Australia, and particularly in Australia’s capital cities, has created a situation of chronic infrastructure shortfall in many essential areas. In this context, to simply say that some infrastructure has been provided in Sunshine, without any assessment of the remaining shortfall, and of the social and economic consequences of such a shortfall, is bewildering. The public deserves a much better standard of public commentary than this.
Just how misinformed the Australian Population Institute is may be gleaned from its website, where it is claimed that current levels of population growth will take Australia to between 25 and 27 million people by 2050, which it maintains is far too little. Where have these people been for the past decade! Current mid-range population projections from the Australian Bureau of Statistics point to around 37.6 million people by that year. That is roughly the equivalent of an additional three cities the size of Melbourne in a time frame of 25 years.
It may not be surprising that someone, somewhere, may hold such a silly, ill-informed view. But, that it should be shouted from the rooftops by Fairfax deserves greater scrutiny. “Centre-left”? Not likely. This is Fairfax at its hypocritical best and music to the ears of the growth maniacs who are constantly at the doors of our political leaders demanding ever greater levels of population growth to keep the gravy train of dumb growth rolling along. Don’t let Fairfax’s preoccupation with asylum seekers, human rights and political corruption fool you. On basic issues of the economy and economic democracy, Fairfax is far to the right of centre.
Contrary to the Fairfax’s in house view, population is not a politically neutral issue, whereby population growth may be reasonably advocated by either the left or right of the political spectrum. Unquestioning advocacy of population growth by ‘left’ intellectuals reflects an historic capitulation to the deregulatory, free-market right. This is particularly so in Australia where, because of decades of economic short-sightedness, the only way to keep Gross Domestic Product growth rates high in the absence of a mining boom is population growth and city building (given the serious structural impoverishment of the Australian economy – we sell dirt and a little agriculture to the world in return for elaborately transformed goods). In reality, the Australian economy’s reliance upon population growth is a form of crisis management, from which particular sectoral interests parasitically and disproportionately benefit (e.g. housing, banking and retail). For these sectors, any correction of the structural imbalance in the Australian economy would be perceived as a dire threat.
Reliance upon population growth is dumb growth writ large and Fairfax’s faux humanitarianism helps the free-market right along its way.
Everyone knows that that the Coalition Government (now in caretaker mode) led by Denis Napthine has already signed the contracts for the infamous East West Link Toll Road in advance of the election this Saturday. What the public may not appreciate is that the East West Connect, a consortium contracted to carry out the construction of the biggest infrastructure project ever seen in Victoria, has already commenced work on the project in Royal Park. Last week teams of EWC surveyors moved in and commenced marking trees for removal in the vicinity of the planned tunnel entrance over the Ross Straw Field in Royal Park West as well marking what appears to be a construction road up Brens Drive, through the State Netball and Hockey Centre carpark and north on to the area of Royal Park designated by Linking Melbourne Authority for a construction camp and carpark.
Julianne Bell Secretary of PPL VIC comments:
“Our State wide coalition of 80 groups, plus a huge network of supporters for public transport not tollroads were outraged by the effrontery of Napthine and his cohorts to have started construction of the East West Link Toll Road in advance of the election and before the legal challenge to the project by the Cities of Yarra and Moreland is heard in the Supreme Court in mid December 2014. Last week our lawyers wrote to the contractors asking that work stop pending the legal hearing. They haven’t stopped work and it looks like they wont. Despite denials by EWC that trees are being marked out, we are afraid there will be a wholesale clearance overnight of indigenous/native vegetation in West Royal Park which pre dates white settlement and which has never suffered any real disturbance. This is the only remnant vegetation site left in Melbourne as far as we know. It is also habitat for an endangered species – White’s Skink.”
Meantime, for over a week, opponents of the East West Link have gathered daily in Royal Park to express their opposition to the project and to protest over the fact that the Coalition has given the go-ahead to work before the case comes up before the Supreme Court. The State Netball and Hockey Centre management believes the line delivered by EWC that there will be no interference with Brens Drive or with the Centre carpark.
There appears to have been a blanket ban by the media on reports that East West Connect has started project work in Royal Park. Shock jocks on 3AW and ABC 774 have refused to discuss the subject or newspaper letters editors to include comments.
Our groups call on the Labor Opposition, if elected this Saturday to govern, to put an immediate protection order on Royal Park to ensure that East West Connect desist from any further work in the Park or on the SNHC site.
Contact: Julianne Bell, Secretary, Protectors of Public Lands Victoria Inc. and Spokesperson Royal Park Protection Group Inc. Mobile: 0408022408