Politicians blind to population growth concerns

Greg Cornwell 7 August 2016 30
Sustainable Australia party founder William Bourke.

The recent Federal election saw the Sustainable Australia Party (ignored by the mainstream) field candidates and shortly before polling day at a local level the ACT Government announced 4550 residential dwelling sites would be released in 2016-17.

What these two events have in common is increasing community concern about population growth and continuing political failure to recognise this trend, far less act upon it.

Governments always need money and in the ACT means of raising this doss are limited to taxes (including levies) and land sales. The latter method conveniently dovetails with providing employment for lots of people from developers to tradesmen and the local whingers directly affected can be ignored for the apparent common good.

This contempt is no longer tolerated. People are objecting to pleasant pockets of land being sold off for profit and governments are being reminded they also are responsible for providing quality of life standards for the rate-paying community.

These standards include health services that don’t involve long waits, schools that are not overcrowded, housing beyond financial reach and roads and public transport that are not clogged.

All these problems come back to too many people using these facilities.

More government investment in infrastructure and paid for by increased and unpopular selective taxes should solve the crisis, but for how long if we allow unrestricted population growth?

And if more people means more demand for services and therefore jobs – a favourite claim for large scale migration – who ultimately pays? If migrants and refugees lack qualifications they may end up on welfare, which is to nobody’s benefit because the financial burden of keeping them falls upon others.

Although they constantly harp about it, is it government’s responsibility to provide jobs? In our capitalist society if you wish to start a business you are free to do so but it is not the government’s task to provide you with either employees or customers.

And do governments really provide jobs? The inference always suggests “new” jobs, however most large companies have their own workforce and sub-contractors – few new jobs there. Any new jobs probably are well out in the mulga.

Governments not only fail to recognise the problems of untrammelled population growth they encourage it with generous family benefits and concessions, adding to the public pressures mentioned earlier. Stopping such assistance after two children would be a start because there is no reason why the taxpayer should fund your personal choice of family size.

Some of the new dwelling sites proposed by the ACT Government are redevelopments of inner city high-rise and their replacements can only be anticipated in style rather than in height. The resulting population surge will add to the congestion already apparent into and out of our CBD and magnify parking problems.

At all levels of government population growth and its lifestyle consequences for communities are ignored. However as some recent events in Canberra have shown (Manuka Oval, Red Hill, Dickson, Yarralumla) the natives are increasingly restless at the threats posed.


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30 Responses to Politicians blind to population growth concerns
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wildturkeycanoe wildturkeycanoe 6:22 am 22 Jul 16

Is this a preview of a partnership between the ACT Liberals and the Sustainable Australia Party for the upcoming election? I can read and agree with all that has been said in the above article, but to find out it has been written by a Liberal Party member surprised me. Sensibility and a genuine connection to the real world makes one think the author is well worth voting for.

WilliamBourke WilliamBourke 8:31 am 22 Jul 16

@wildturkeycanoe, the answer is no, Sustainable Australia will not be entering into any “partnership” with the Liberals.

Sustainable Australia is an independent party from the political centre, for middle Australia. We are strong on issues like housing affordability, renewable energy and public transport… but given we are the ONLY party that also addresses Australia’s record population growth – an issue that is neither ‘left’ or ‘right’ – we attract members and supporters from right across the political spectrum.

It is therefore no surprise to see a former Liberal politician speak out about this vital issue – and I thank and congratulate Mr Cornwell for doing so!

I hope everyone agrees that for the sake of our social cohesion, middle Australia needs to have an open and rational debate about population (and therefore immigration), rather than leave it to the extremes.

Sustainable Australia’s population policy is stated here:
http://www.votesustainable.org.au/policies

wildturkeycanoe wildturkeycanoe 2:14 pm 22 Jul 16

Thanks Mr. Bourke for the clarification. It is good to see the Liberals talking about this issue, though I am very confused about how different local Liberals’ agenda seems to be to the national Liberals in terms of their concern for the welfare of “middle Australians”. Nationally they appear to be targeting every middle and lower class resident to squeeze the most dollars out of them possible, by toughening welfare eligibility, making health care less affordable and offering no real plans to make more jobs or reduce housing costs. Under this Liberal government we can see only an open door policy when it comes to immigration, as long as they bring their foreign dollars with them, at the expense of the living standards of our own citizens. The FTAs with China and the USA only benefit them, not Australians. By relaxing the rules on foreign workers we find Aussies losing both employment and conditions. The Building Construction Commission will also see the industry strangled and even less opportunities for those willing to work but unable to find jobs. Liberals are all about slashing public service jobs to save money. The next 3 to 4 years will be a dismal time for all middle and lower income households. Unfortunately, we need to vote this same party into power locally to avoid catastrophic budget blowouts and the death of our Canberran lifestyle. I just got my rates notice and almost had a heart attack. I might need to cash in on that emergency Services levy if my irregular heart beats don’t subside with some welcoming good news, such as seeing the Labor party booted out and the tram project with them.

Garfield Garfield 2:51 pm 22 Jul 16

Elf said :

@wildturkeycanoe, the answer is no, Sustainable Australia will not be entering into any “partnership” with the Liberals.

Sustainable Australia is an independent party from the political centre, for middle Australia. We are strong on issues like housing affordability, renewable energy and public transport… but given we are the ONLY party that also addresses Australia’s record population growth – an issue that is neither ‘left’ or ‘right’ – we attract members and supporters from right across the political spectrum.

It is therefore no surprise to see a former Liberal politician speak out about this vital issue – and I thank and congratulate Mr Cornwell for doing so!

I hope everyone agrees that for the sake of our social cohesion, middle Australia needs to have an open and rational debate about population (and therefore immigration), rather than leave it to the extremes.

Sustainable Australia’s population policy is stated here:
http://www.votesustainable.org.au/policies

I vote Liberal but have concerns as to how many people Australia can sustain. In the Senate you were fairly high up on my preference list.

WilliamBourke WilliamBourke 4:25 pm 22 Jul 16

Thanks Garfield. A sustainable population is one of those issues that people from across the spectrum can unite on… when isolated as an issue, polls show that 60-70% of people agree Australia is growing too quickly.

Hopefully over time we can convert that to your #1 vote 😉

HiddenDragon HiddenDragon 5:49 pm 22 Jul 16

Our population growth (nationally and locally), and the economic activity which is claimed to justify that growth, is significantly reliant on debt-funded spending and consumption by households and governments.

Even with “record low” interest rates, that debt has to be serviced and most (if not quite all) of it will eventually need to be repaid – or, in the case of government debt – passed on as a burden to future cohorts of taxpayers and ratepayers. Supporters of “big Australia” and “big Canberra” need to face up to this unpleasant truth, and explain in detail how the rate of population growth which they defend and celebrate will be economically and environmentally sustainable in the longer term.

martinrev21 martinrev21 7:21 am 23 Jul 16

As one of the Sustainable Australia senate candidates in the recent election I am pleased to see a well written article on the population issue. It is after all, an issue which has serious consequences for all the people of Canberra/Australia.

People from all parts of the world, of all races & religions …we all came here seeking the same thing ‘a better life for ourselves and our children’ and we are all in this together.

As we can see by looking around the world population growth/size is a key factor which is being supressed by big business, their ‘chief economists’ and their political mouthpieces as they seek to ‘grow’ economies (markets) and hence their profits. It is a lazy, destructive & unsustainable way of doing business focussed entirely on the short term.

It is absolutely vital to our economic, environmental & social sustainability that population growth now be included in the discussion. I very much hope that the people of Canberra seize the opportunity to raise the profile of the population issue by supporting Sustainable Australia in the upcoming ACT elections.

Well done RiotACT for running this story.

Rotten_berry Rotten_berry 2:27 pm 23 Jul 16

Australia’s population growth rate has increased significantly in the last ~10 years. It started under Howard and seems to have become bi-partisan since then. At the turn of the century our population was forecast to hit 24 million sometime in the 2030s – but we are there already!!

http://edge.alluremedia.com.au/uploads/businessinsider/2015/09/NAB-Australia-population-growth.jpg

IMO we need some growth to avoid stagnating but I’m all for reducing it back to 1990s-early 2000s levels. The recent high growth rate mostly benefits big business, property developers and investors/speculators at the expense of the existing population. Many here are (understandably) opposed to densification and development in their neighborhoods and also opposed to further sprawl – but if we are going to have lots more people they need to be provided for, as were previous generations. Makes sense to address the cause rather than adopting an “I’ve got mine Jack” attitude and railing against the symptoms.

BrendanH BrendanH 4:03 pm 23 Jul 16

It is interesting to note that Australia’s growth rate has been trending downwards over the last 5 years with incoming migration being slowly curbed. ( http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/3101.0) so maybe the incumbents are managing population growth responsibly.

A party using this issue as the cornerstone of their campaign should probably be aware of the statistics.

Also, is this a politically correct way of saying you want to keep the foreigners out or do you plan to institute tax penalties on larger families or even mandating a one child per family policy to curb natural population growth?

Arthur Davies Arthur Davies 4:46 pm 23 Jul 16

At last the elephant in the room is being addressed. The myth that high levels of in migration create wealth needs to be exposed. All these new people need things such as housing, health services, education, both for them & their kids (statistically first generation migrants have far more kids than do Australian born people). Certainly these needs generate jobs & increase GNP, but the GNP increase is spread over far more people, i.e. less per head. Many of the extra jobs generated are taken up by the new migrants, so no nett gain. This is a circular argument, we need to bring in more migrants to build the services demanded by the migrants coming in? A zero sum gain. There have in fact been a few academic studies showing that high migration levels decrease real income levels because of the need to build so many new schools, hospitals, accommodation, essential services etc. Real wealth is generated by real scientific technical innovation, not population numbers (not however the so called innovation talked about by govts).

The the cost of running a city per head of population decreases with size due to economies of scale UP TO A POINT. Beyond that point, service cables & pipes get too big & too long, ditto roads etc. I quizzed Peter Newman, an urban planning expert, on this & he stated that the optimum size was around 200,000 residents, beyond that costs per head go up. He also made the interesting point that around 200, 000 is about an ideal social number. All our capitals are very far into the increasing cost region.

For the whole of Australia there is a serious restraint on the ability to sustain our population due to the inherent infertility of most of our soils, we occupy the oldest continent in the world & our land has been inevitably depleted of nutrients over millions & billions of years of natural leaching. Add to that the limited rainfall, & its unreliability, over most of Australia & you have very serious restraints on feeding ourselves.

We are generally not told the numbers coming to Australia, but last time I looked it was around 300,000 per year, nearly another Canberra year after year. Only around 20,000 of these migrants are real refugees deserving of our sympathy & help, many of the rest are relatively rich (in some cases exceedingly rich). These people can afford stay where they are & improve their own communities, not make ours progressively less sustainable.

A significant number of Australians move overseas for many reasons, special jobs, family, etc. This is probably around the number of desperate & deserving people we take in & help, so all incoming refugees need not be stopped, just the less deserving 280,000 who do not need our help.

Mordd Mordd 9:05 pm 23 Jul 16

So you don’t want more immigration, guess how the aborigines felt when the white man rocked up hey! Fact is we have a massive amount of land and resources that can support a way bigger population than we have, and trying to artificially restrict the population growth is just plain selfish and greedy, nothing more.

I am a Rabbit™ I am a Rabbit™ 1:18 pm 24 Jul 16

devils_advocate said :

So you don’t want more immigration, guess how the aborigines felt when the white man rocked up hey!

Have you not studied your own history? Aborigines viewed the “white man” as simply another tribe when they came – a powerful tribe, but a tribe nonetheless. The notion of countries and states were foreign to them. It’s for that reason that when the frontier wars started that some of the Aborigines tribes actually allied themselves with the “white man tribe”. The enemy of my enemy is my friend…

devils_advocate said :

is we have a massive amount of land and resources that can support a way bigger population than we have.

What are these land and resources you speak of? Only 6.0% of the landmass is arable, and that’s not counting the significant issues we face in terms of our water security situation. We have a looming fresh water crisis, and it’s undeniable that the Government is going to need to implement harsh water rationing in the future.

ungruntled ungruntled 2:27 pm 24 Jul 16

Sustainable Australia’s population policy is stated here:
http://www.votesustainable.org.au/policies

Thank you for that connection.
That is the best laid out policy statement I have seen since Whitlam!
At least you know exactly what you are voting for. Neither Laboral nor Greens are prepared to be so forthcoming.
It’ a really good start

ungruntled ungruntled 2:30 pm 24 Jul 16

Masquara said :

Thanks Mr. Bourke for the clarification. It is good to see the Liberals talking about this issue, though I am very confused about how different local Liberals’ agenda seems to be to the national Liberals in terms of their concern for the welfare of “middle Australians”. Nationally they appear to be targeting every middle and lower class resident to squeeze the most dollars out of them possible, by toughening welfare eligibility, making health care less affordable and offering no real plans to make more jobs or reduce housing costs. Under this Liberal government we can see only an open door policy when it comes to immigration, as long as they bring their foreign dollars with them, at the expense of the living standards of our own citizens. The FTAs with China and the USA only benefit them, not Australians. By relaxing the rules on foreign workers we find Aussies losing both employment and conditions. The Building Construction Commission will also see the industry strangled and even less opportunities for those willing to work but unable to find jobs. Liberals are all about slashing public service jobs to save money. The next 3 to 4 years will be a dismal time for all middle and lower income households. Unfortunately, we need to vote this same party into power locally to avoid catastrophic budget blowouts and the death of our Canberran lifestyle. I just got my rates notice and almost had a heart attack. I might need to cash in on that emergency Services levy if my irregular heart beats don’t subside with some welcoming good news, such as seeing the Labor party booted out and the tram project with them.

SPOT ON!

ungruntled ungruntled 2:44 pm 24 Jul 16

devils_advocate said :

So you don’t want more immigration, guess how the aborigines felt when the white man rocked up hey! Fact is we have a massive amount of land and resources that can support a way bigger population than we have, and trying to artificially restrict the population growth is just plain selfish and greedy, nothing more.

What you are saying doesn’t fit with any of the geology or social anthropology I know Mordd.
I would need a lot more in the way of facts & research to even start me thinking your way.

rommeldog56 rommeldog56 5:28 pm 24 Jul 16

Masquara said :

Liberals are all about slashing public service jobs to save money. The next 3 to 4 years will be a dismal time for all middle and lower income households. Unfortunately, we need to vote this same party into power locally to avoid catastrophic budget blowouts and the death of our Canberran lifestyle. I just got my rates notice and almost had a heart attack. I might need to cash in on that emergency Services levy if my irregular heart beats don’t subside with some welcoming good news, such as seeing the Labor party booted out and the tram project with them.

Agreed – hopeless choice really. I just hope that ACT voters/Ratepayers snap out of their apathy and robitic support for ACT labor/Greens in the October ACT Legislative Assembly election and boot the ACT labor/Greens Gov’t out. If the Libs get in and dont deliver, then they should also be booted out in 4 years time.

Re ACT Annual Rates : There is already today on the radio, Ratepayers calling in to express horror at their Annual Rates bills for 2016-17, which have started to be sent out. And that’s with the lower 5.4% avg.(which is 1/2 what it should be and will revert to in 2017-18 !) increase being applied in this (election) year too – but includes the increased and new “levies”.

I am a Rabbit™ I am a Rabbit™ 8:37 pm 24 Jul 16

Masquara said :

Unfortunately, we need to vote this same party into power locally to avoid catastrophic budget blowouts and the death of our Canberran lifestyle.

Why do people think is the case? Historically the ACT Liberals have been a disaster in terms of their economic performance. The liberals at a state level aren’t fairing well in Queensland & New South Wales either. Personally I think there are many reason why you might want to vote for the Liberals in the ACT, but doing so on the basis of a bad budget or high rates is absurd. They are literally incompetent at economics – even the greens have better policies in that area, and that is really saying something….

I’ll also mention this before the inevitable “BUT NSW ISN’T RUNNING A DEFICIT” comment. The NSW Liberals are selling off all their infrastructure and using the proceeds to spend like a drunken sailor… The only reason their budget is in the green is due to privatisation, and their “solution” to the 2020 24bn debt is selling off EVEN MORE public assets. They are simply selling off revenue producing assets to fund unsustainable levels of spending. One has to wonder what they are going to do once there’s nothing left to sell….

Mordd Mordd 8:49 pm 24 Jul 16

Very Busy said :

devils_advocate said :

So you don’t want more immigration, guess how the aborigines felt when the white man rocked up hey! Fact is we have a massive amount of land and resources that can support a way bigger population than we have, and trying to artificially restrict the population growth is just plain selfish and greedy, nothing more.

What you are saying doesn’t fit with any of the geology or social anthropology I know Mordd.
I would need a lot more in the way of facts & research to even start me thinking your way.

The first part was tongue in cheek. As to the second, many countries support far higher populations with less arable land mass and resources than we have, we are extremely well off.

madelini madelini 9:32 am 25 Jul 16

Really, it’s the suburbs that are unsustainable – they’re pleasant, but the impact on the environment (especially with the reliance on cars and fossil fuels that comes with living further out) can’t be ignored. I personally don’t feel like it’s an elephant in the room. It’s not as though Canberra will reach a 500k population by next year. There is a mention of migrants and refugees potentially not being skilled, and needing to seek Centrelink – but no mention of the uneducated and unskilled people born here who feel entitled to government payments. Populations wax and wane; it’s an adjustment process, but I know that I don’t want to live in a stagnated society.

I can’t help but wonder how much of this is a fear of change, and a digging in of heels to prevent it.

Cantoangel Cantoangel 12:39 pm 25 Jul 16

Since everyone here seems to have done the research and I’m a lazy so and so, what are the statistics of migrants versus “natives” on welfare, and does it change after a few years of establishment? I’m genuinely curious as every migrant family I know of seems to be employed.

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