In Australia, Ignoring Population Growth Brings Down a Political Party

Published on January 10th, 2011

In my November 15 blog, I wrote about our Australian allies that CAPS representatives met in Washington DC during the fourth annual Population Strategy Meeting. As I wrote, The Stable Population Party, a federally registered political entity made up of committed people from various backgrounds, works to give Australians a choice on population and the quality of life for existing and future generations. Now Kelvin Thompson, one of the Washington presenters, attributed the November defeat by conservatives of the once-dominant Australian Labor Party in Victoria, the nation’s second most populous state, to ignoring rapid population growth. In her post-election analysis Sheila Newman, who has written extensively about the link between immigration and population growth, commented that the defeated Labor Party refused to recognize the “elephant in the room” and didn’t “stay ahead of the unprecedented growth in the last few years.” The irony, not lost on advocates of reduced population, is that the Labor government introduced and encouraged high levels of immigration. Labor urged more immigration in its controversial campaign, “Live in Victoria,” that detailed how immigrants could get visas, search for jobs and find affordable housing. Tim Colebatch the Sydney Morning Herald’s economics editor, agrees with Newman that the flawed strategy of promoting growth doomed Labor. Wrote Colebach:

“Since Labor took power, Victoria’s population has grown by almost a million, close to 20 percent. For those living in Victoria, hospital wards became overloaded, trains overcrowded, roads clogged. Assault rates rose, for several reasons, and people felt less secure. The cost of electricity, gas and water soared …”

Ross Gittens, another prominent economic journalist who writes regularly for Fairfax Publications, sides with Newman and Austin. What Gittins wrote below applies 100 percent to the United States, also:

“Business people support rapid population, which really means high immigration. And in a bigger economy they can increase their sales and profits. That’s fine for them, but it doesn’t necessarily follow that a bigger economy is better for you and me. Only if the extra people add more to national income than their own share of that income will the average incomes of the rest of us be increased. And that’s not to say any gain in material standard of living isn’t offset by a decline in our quality of life, which goes unmeasured by gross domestic product.

“As economists know but don’t like to talk or even think about the reason immigration adds little or nothing to the material living standards of the existing population is that each extra person coming to Australia–the workers and their families–has to be provided with extra capital equipment: a home to live in, machines to use at work and a host of public infrastructure such as roads, public transport, schools, hospitals, libraries, police stations and much else. The cost of that extra capital has to be set against the benefit from the extra labor. If the extra capital isn’t forthcoming, living standards–and, no doubt, quality of life–decline.” What’s remarkable to U.S. population stabilization advocates is how vigorously the Australian press defends sustainable growth and targets politicians who fly in the face of the consequences of adding people to already overcrowded nation. Such candor is starkly missing in the American press which continues to keep its head in the sand.

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