14 March, 2018

Population Growth

To discuss Australia's population boom is to invite criticism from many accusing us of racism. But the subject is about numbers not necessarily racial issues.
 Did you know that Australia has the highest rate of population growth of all the OECD countries and 75% of this growth is in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth with over 24% of that growth in Melbourne. While our natural increase is fairly stable the main growth comes from high migration which has tripled from around 80,000 pa to 250,000 pa in recent years. Note: the nearly 2 million long stay visa holders are never counted in the published population figures which is obviously aimed to mislead us.
While population growth is far too often linked with economic growth, the Productivity Commission clearly states that the growth of  real income per ca-pita is virtually negligible and what there is goes mainly to the new arrivals. Ask yourself are you better off than 10 years ago? Most likely not for the economists say that our incomes have not kept pace with inflation. The government always uses the GDP figure which indicates  steady growth but this is misleading for the real indicator is GDP "per ca-pita" which has been going backwards for some years.
One of the main concerns is that while the development industry does well out of this growth, our attempts to cope with the resulting infrastructure requirements are not keeping up with the demands of the existing citizens let alone with the requirements of  doubling Melbourne's population within the next 25/30 years.
Poor planning controls have lead to developers getting away with constructing vertical slums containing very small micro-apartments of under 50 square meters with no bedroom windows. These would not be accepted in Hong Kong, Tokyo or New York. So why do we accept this shoddy practice here? Recent changes by the Andrew's government have not really improved this situation.
Of course the reality is that developers pay vast sums to lobby our political parties and also make political donations with the result that pretty well all of our politicians tell us they support population growth. 
Its way past time that we banned political donations from the development industry because it encourages graft and corruption.
What we need to do is lobby just as hard to ensure that our politicians carry out their role of looking after their constituents  for the long term rather than looking after the developers who make donations. Ask your local member what happens in 25/30 years when the population of Melbourne doubles?  Does the growth suddenly stop or does it double again in the next 25/30 years?
Our lack of proper planning encourages this "Ponzie" scheme of more and more houses for more and more people until we end up like the masses in the third world .Do our political leaders care? Certainly not for they are investing in land speculation and property as hard as they can to get rich rewards from the propery boom, which results from such high migration. 
And don't forget the nearly 2 million visa holders in Australia right now, all needing to find somewhere to live, but they are not included in our population growth figures. 
The answer is to cut migration to a more sustainable level of ,say, around the 80,000 to 100,000 pa  level which would  be more that the OECD average and would still enable us to meet our international obligations. And we should also cut back on our visa programs.
Think about this: in recent years we accepted more migrants per annum than the UK. Our present rate of population growth is around 1.7% and has been up to 2.2% which is more than twice that of the world average of 1.1% and way ahead of UK, USA, FRANCE and the other OECD countries. 
Melbourne's current rate of growth is even higher at 2.4% pa. To give you some idea what this means - it's like cramming another Ballarat or a MCG at capacity into Melbourne every year. No wonder our roads are clogged and our public transport is struggling to cope. It will only get worse.
There is more on this subject in other posts on this site.
 See above for "The big Australian Illusion". It sets out the reality.

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