Mature Discussion Overdue in Australia on Immigration and Development
2 January, 2018
For too long Australia has maintained an unsustainable and economically damaging immigration rate. This very high immigration rate is supported by the very same people who thwart economically important development projects. We need to address both issues before it is too late.
In 1959, the year I was born, Australia had a population of 10.8 million. In 1966, the year my family migrated to Australia the population was 11.65 million. The population today is 24.6 million. In my lifetime the population of Australia has increased by 128%.
From 1959 to 1980 Australia’s fertility rate fell from 3.5 births per 1,000 per year, to under 2.0 per year. Today it is about 1.9 births per 1,000 roughly what it has been since 1980. This is below replacement level which is calculated to be 2.1 births per thousand per year.
Clearly the number of births in Australia would not even have maintained the population since 1980. And as it fell precipitously since I was born, it is likely that without migration, Australia’s population would be under 11 million today.
In fact since 1960 Australia has had the second highest rate of population growth in the developed world at 1.4%pa average. Only New Zealand at 2.1%pa was higher. The average population growth rate for OECD countries was half Australia’s at 0.7%pa.
Australia’s average compares with say Canada at 1.2%pa, China at 0.5%pa, France 0.4%, Germany 1.2%, India 1.1%, Italy -0.2%, Japan -0.1%, Russia 0.2%, Sweden 1.1%, UK 0.8%, USA 0.7%, and a total global average of 1.2%pa.
Many countries which are concerned about population growth, or their rate of immigration, have had a significantly lower rate of population growth than Australia.
Let’s look at a country where population growth and immigration has been such a hot topic in recent years you could be forgiven for thinking they had a much faster growing population than Australia.
The UK had a population of 52.0 million in 1959 and 64.7 million this year. That is an increase of just 24.4% compared to Australia’s 128% over the same period.
This is an unsustainable rate of population growth. It is the reason why our average house prices are among the highest in the world. On a multiple of average annual incomes our average house price is second only to Hong Kong based on 2016 statistics.
We have had to create housing at a rate 5 times greater than the UK. But that rate also applies to our need to increase transport and utilities infrastructure. That is rail, roads, ports, airports, electricity, gas, communications and water. Schools and hospitals also had to increase at a rate much greater than most developed countries.
During this time when Australia should have been building major infrastructure we have instead increased welfare and migration and provided the third highest number of permanent refugee resettlements in the world and the highest rate on a per capita basis.
We now find our government annual budgets at the state and federal levels are all in deficit with mounting debt.
Our welfare, education and health bills are skyrocketing while unemployment rates remain high.
We know that we have a growing Aged Pension and Disability pension bill which will get higher as baby boomers like me age.
We have no fund from which to pay the future pensions of politicians and public servants and the estimated contingent liability of more than $300 billion isn’t even included in Government debt!
The Future Fund set up by the Howard/Costello government which has had no contributions since then, won’t go very far.
Incredibly, while Australia has been hurtling towards the economic cliff edge, we continue to tax business at a higher rate than our international competitors, driving companies offshore or making business unprofitable.
The size of government has continued to grow as has the amount of green and red tape which makes the cost of starting and running a business much higher than in our competitor countries.
Over recent decades we have increasingly allowed the chattering classes and loud protesting minority to stop job and wealth creating projects from going ahead in Australia.
This has happened all over Australia from freeways, highways, rail and ports, to mining and oil and gas, managed forestry and paper and wood production, and major primary production projects which require water saving and flood mitigating dams.
I have asked a number of Greens supporters to name a single mine, oil or gas well or development they have ever supported. They can’t name a single one!
Yet these are the same people who promote open borders with greater immigration!
Why do these people get so much favourable publicity? Why do governments listen to them? It’s madness!
It is high time we had a mature discussion in Australia about the reckless rate of immigration we have which has seen our population grow at unsustainable rates. We need to also have a responsible discussion about business taxation and regulation and promoting wealth and job creating projects not shutting them down.