25 million population ‘disaster’: ‘It will destroy Australia’
ENTREPRENEUR Dick Smith says it is "not accidental" that immigration skyrocketed by 27 per cent last year, accusing Australian politicians of cooking the books to keep economic growth figures artificially high.
The latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show net overseas migration for the year ending 30 June 2017 was 245,000, with New South Wales and Victoria recording their highest ever levels.
NSW added 98,600 migrants, while Victoria added 86,900 - an increase on the previous year of 31 per cent and 23 per cent respectively. "This growth has seen both states surpass their previous recorded high in 2008-09," ABS demography director Beidar Cho said.
Queensland added 31,000 migrants over the same period.
Australia is now the fastest growing country in the OECD. With the country adding a new overseas migrant at a rate of one every two minutes and 20 seconds, the population is set to hit 25 million within months.
"It's just an absolute disaster for our children and grandchildren," said Mr Smith, an outspoken critic of Australia's high immigration rate who has repeatedly called for Australia's political parties to have a "population plan".
"It will destroy Australia as we know it today. We're going to end up like the US where you have something like 50 million people on the dole who will never have a job," he said. 'It's just complete madness. With automation and robotics there will be fewer meaningful jobs, we'll end up just being a nation selling coffee to each other."
While mass immigration boosts the overall GDP figure and makes politicians "look as if they are doing well", we "don't have growth per capita". "There's no doubt, it's not accidental," Mr Smith said.
"We're in complete control of our immigration rate. With an economic system that requires perpetual growth, this is the way of getting it. The only other way is hard work, getting better productivity."
Mr Smith said while the Liberals were scared of property developers like Meriton's Harry Triguboff, Labor refused to discuss immigration for fear of offending the ethnic community.
"That's ridiculous," he said. "The ethnic people who come here don't want Australia destroyed. They want their children to have jobs. Borders are for self-interest - we should be thinking of our own children and grandchildren."
He argued eight out of 10 Australians supported a population plan. "What I'm amazed at is there's no discussion," Mr Smith said. "I get stopped in the street all the time, people say: 'Dick, it's terrible, 14 per cent youth unemployment, my grandkid can't get a job.'
"It's going to get worse. We've just had two years talking about gay marriage, which is an important human rights issue, but there's no one talking about our biggest threat and that is so many people who won't be able to get proper jobs, you'll end up with gated communities and revolution."
Leith van Onselen, chief economist with Macrobusiness, said successive governments were running mass immigration programs to keep growth artificially high and as "defacto housing support" to keep the housing bubbles in NSW and Victoria alive.
"Sydney and Melbourne combined added just over 185,000 migrants in one year," he said. "Three-quarters of Australia's immigration intake going into two biggest, most overcrowded and unaffordable cities is not a good thing."
Sydney in particular is facing a "bizarre situation" where residents were being displaced by new migrants. "Residents are leaving at quite a fast rate and the birthrate has actually fallen quite significantly," Mr Onselen said.
"NSW added almost 100,000 migrants, but 14,000 residents left in the year and also the natural increase has fallen quite sharply. All these extra people are forcing people out and making it more expensive to have kids.
"It's a pretty socially regressive situation where young people are forced to move from where they grew up and where all their family and friends are, just because the government wants to run a Big Australia policy."
Dr Jane O'Sullivan, honorary senior research fellow at the University of Queensland's School of Agriculture and Food Sciences, said Australia was effectively "running to stand still" to keep pace with the infrastructure needed to accommodate new arrivals.
"It costs more than $100,000 in public money per person that we add to our population," she said. Dr O'Sullivan said the figure was derived by looking at the gross fixed capital formation figures and household expenditure data.
"What we spend on durables is partly replacing the things which reach the end of their lifespan, and partly expanding our stock of those things to keep pace with population growth," she said.
"So you can separate those parts to come up with the figure for how much we actually spend on expanding everything we need to support our lifestyle. It turns out as a society, it's around 6.5 per cent to 7 per cent of GDP per 1 per cent of population growth.
"So if we're growing at 1.6 per cent, we're spending more than 10 per cent of GDP just running in order to stand still, not improving the level of service we're able to provide people, simply keeping up with the number of hospital beds and school classes to keep things at a level standard.
"To a large extent we are not keeping pace, we're actually falling behind, so the quality of life people are enjoying is going backwards."
Dr O'Sullivan said the "usual rejoinder" was that governments had failed to spend adequately on infrastructure, but the numbers didn't bear that out.
"They have more than increased their spending in proportion to population growth, it's just becoming increasingly expensive as our megacities cities become bigger and denser," she said.
"The cost of every extra person becomes more expensive because suddenly you have to build road tunnels, high-rises, refit increased sewerage capacity.
"People think Australia has a small population, but our cities are huge by developed country standards. They're way past economies of scale, to [arguably] diseconomies of scale."