Highrise Harry wants more people

By Leith van Onselen

Meet Harry Triguboff. For those who aren’t aware, Mr Triguboff is also known as “High rise Harry” and is the head of Meriton. Meriton is the largest developer of apartments in Australia, with around 50,000 under their name.

In early 2010, Mr Triguboff declared his interest in a “Big Australia” when he commented that he would like to see Australia’s population reach 100 million:

“I don’t think there will be 35 million but about 55 million,” he said on The 7.30 Report.

Without population growth, Mr Triguboff says the economy will stall.

“I’d like to see 100 million, because I believe we will have many things to do here besides drilling holes and selling coal,” he said.

“Our agriculture has to be huge.

“Our desalination must be fantastic. Our rivers must flow the right way.

“It will all have to be developed.”

And yesterday, Mr Triguboff was at it again, arguing that Australia needed 500,000 immigrants each and every year in order to “repair Australia’s property market” and achieve a viable economy:

The migrant intake must grow by at least half a million people per annum. It is impossible to run a huge continent with 23 million people. It does not matter whether Prime Minister Gillard or Tony Abbott will rule the country. With migration rising there will be more need for accommodation and we must build more.

According to Mr Triguboff, it’s impossible to run Australia with a population of 23 million. I must ask: how many people would argue that the United States’ economy, with a population some 15 times larger than Australia’s (on a similar land mass), or China’s and India’s economies (each with some 1.2 billion people) are in a better position than Australia?

Hyperbole aside, below are four reasons why I believe that Mr Triguboff’s prescription does not stand up to a rigorous economic assessment and would not be in Australia’s interests.

First, from a narrow economic perspective, immigration is good only if it raises the real average incomes of the pre-existing population (e.g. GDP per capita). While it is true that Australia’s high population growth over the second half of the 2000s boosted Australia’s real GDP (more labour inputs, other things equal, means more outputs), there is little empirical evidence to show that GDP per capita increased due to population growth. In fact, as the below chart shows, real GDP per capita has flatlined since 2007. So while the economic pie has increased in size since 2007, because of high population growth, everyone’s share of that pie has not increased!

Second, Australia earns its way in the world mainly by selling its fixed mineral resources. More people means less resources per capita. A growing population also means that we must deplete our mineral resources faster, just to maintain a constant standard of living. This doesn’t sound like a smart approach to me.

Third, there are the serious costs of high population growth – including environmental degradation, water scarcity, increased pollution and congestion, lower housing affordability, and a greater need for costly new infrastructure investment (e.g. desalination plants). I do not hold much hope that these issues can be successfully managed given that Australia’s governments have failed so dismally in providing for the existing population, let alone millions of extra citizens. Further, it will be near impossible for Australia to reduce its carbon footprint and meet international pollution reduction targets with a substantially larger population.

Fourth, and more broadly, population boosters often argue that Australia needs to import more workers in order to cover the costs of an ageing population. However, the issue of an ageing population will need to be addressed at some point irrespective of the level of immigration. Simply importing more workers to cover the retirement of the baby boomers only delays the ageing problem, pushing the problem onto future generations. What will be the population boosters’ solution in 30 years time when current migrants grow old, retire and need taxpayer support? More immigration and an even larger Australia? In this regard, a “Big Australia” brought about by high immigration is just another ponzi scheme.

Finally, one of my biggest gripes with the whole population debate is that the population boosters fail to acknowledge that that we cannot have infinite population growth in a finite world. As an illustration, the below chart plots Australia’s population trajectory under various growth rate assumptions. Even at only 0.6% per annum compound growth – roughly one-third the current growth rate – Australia’s population would reach 70 million by the year 2200. Put your hands up if you think that Australia would be a better place with a population roughly three times its current size in a world experiencing severe constraints from depleted oil reserves, among other things?

While you might think that the above chart is facetious, as population growth could easily be curtailed at some point in the future, the fact remains that there will always be vested interests pressuring governments to expand population growth in the face of an ever-ageing population (see fourth point above).

Ultimately, it is living standards that matter most. And on this count, rapid population growth is a negative for Australia. That’s why views like Mr Triguboff’s should be taken with a tablespoon of salt.

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Comments

  1. UE, you are absolutely right. Triguboff doesn’t give a s…t for Australia and the next generations. He is obviously a very good example how the very narrow self interest can be detrimental for the whole nation.

    • It used to amaze me why people with more money than they could spend in a thousand lifetimes are never happy and always wanting more money even at the detriment of everyone else. I finally understood this phenomenon when I read about something called “other esteem” which essentially describes people with no self-esteem distancing from themselves and gaining their esteem from a third party such as financial success, a football team, or the success of their children.

      If you take their money away or their favourite team loses they end up having serious depression issues which is why they continue to bolster their “other esteem” at any expense.

      • In Daniel Kahneman’s book “thinking, fast and slow”

        he spends some time providing clues to such behavior

        it’s a “System 1” (amygdala based i assume) reaction – the pleasure they get from winning is exceedingly low compared to the pain they suffer from losses or anticipated losses or even imagined loss of profit or even profit growth

        so you maybe right

        but i’d not frame it as a self esteem thing – i’d frame it as a fear reaction and conditioned response to stimuli

        and that he’s probably a total pr*$k

        🙂

        pop

  2. I wonder whether BS might decide to run this as a counter to Gottliebsen’s piece yesterday. Some facts and data would make a nice change to the vested interest, tripe they put out over there.

  3. +1 Lori, there’s naked self-interest for you a bit like Gina Rinehart saying ‘guest’ workers for her mines was a humanitarian solution that just happens to make her even richer.

    Anyway the sort of Australia Harry wants is one with even more ugly towers everywhere. Personally I think in a country this size we should all thank God we can reasonably afford a backyard for a bit of sanity and peace in the garden – who’d want to live in a high-rise anyway? Wasn’t that the lesson learned from the sixties when we built those Housing Commission towers – that high-rise life isn’t really good for most people?

    • reusachtigeMEMBER

      ” who’d want to live in a high-rise anyway? ”

      Look, Harry is a total rent-seeker only out to line his own pockets so I want to get that straight first. But when I see comments like this I can be pretty certain it’s from the ill-informed and is typical BS from those who have never truly experienced high rise living. It’s a statement imposing one’s own life-style as being superior over others. Off ya high-horse bra!

      I have just moved from a gorgeous inner-city apartment, after being there for 8 years, to an inner-ring house with backyard and to be honest – I totally miss my inner-city apartment. I fkn loved it and can’t wait for the day I get to move back into one again down the track.

      Inner-city apartment living is a magical life for the young at heart – lots of partying and activity nearby and no need to waste precious time looking after a house.

      • Actually you are wrong on that account – I lived in a flash apartment in the middle of Adelaide city centre in the late 90’s and I swore I would never live in another apartment again (and I haven’t). I just can’t bear sharing walls with neighbours and I also need a small amount of garden to keep me sane – you appreciate things like that only as you get older. I agree with you though, when you are young it’s lots of fun living in a big city without the hassle of looking after a house… it’s just not my cup of tea.

        • reusachtigeMEMBER

          OK then, that’s your experience. You will find though that there is actually quite a lot of demand for inner-city and inner-ring apartments because of the amenity they offer. They do help make life quick and easy for those wanting that lifestyle. And there are many that do, especially in the larger cities.
          Harry is right to say that there is real demand for his apartments over cottages on the fringe because there truly is. He just wants to pump the demand further by pushing the population ponzi because a lot of those coming into the country want the apartment life. And I do think there is a xenophobia angle about apartments because of this.

        • Actually you are wrong on that account

          How can he be wrong on that account?

          The account is entirely his, and his alone? If there’s one thing he can be sure he is correct, it is his account.

          • Diogenes the CynicMEMBER

            Obviously each to their own. Apartment living in the inner city has definite attractions for young singles/doubles, and for retired baby boomers both. But so does houses with backyards to families. I currently live in a large house with a nice backyard on a quarter acre block – the kids love the backyard and we grow vegetables year round (this being Perth). But we also spent several years in inner city Perth in an apartment and it was fabulous – no maintenance of garden, verge, etc and everything was close by…we even managed in a 2 bedroom apartment when my eldest daughter was born, luckily there was a very large park just down the street! It would have been hellish with 2 young toddlers. So each to their own, I would certainly consider moving back to an apartment if I no longer had to worry about kids.

          • I agree, I aspire to a large suburban block in Perth personally.

            But to say someones account is wrong when it is their account… that strikes me as bizarre.

          • reusachtige said:

            “when I see comments like this I can be pretty certain it’s from the ill-informed and is typical BS from those who have never truly experienced high rise living”

            I interpreted SeanG’s response as being in response to that comment, which he refuted. Seems fair to me…

          • I find the debate around high density apartments vs detached houses frustrating to watch, as it is almost always presented as some sort of either or case, not to mention proponents of either type presume to know how everyone should be housed. The reality is of course, demand for all sorts of different dwelling types, and in a country as spacious and wealthy as Australia it shouldn’t be such a problem to provide for this.

            Aside from that, I think high rise type living would be more popular if Harry’s overpriced, undersized & (from all accounts) shoddily constructed apartments, weren’t the standard by which most Aussies judge this style of dwelling. It could be so much better than what gets served up.

      • Aristophrenia

        I grew up in the Middle of Melbourne, literally in the heart of the city – that was my home and I have watched it be absolutely destroyed. Gutted – so that people could simply take advantage of it and ultimately destroy it – people like you.

        Having also lived throughout Europe I can assure you the high rise apartment model is seriously screwed up. The lifestyle of living in St Germain, the Latin Quarter, Sienna, Soho, etc where there are no massive towers is stunning, it is wonderous to behold, and isntead of RAPING that with highrises so knobs can come in, party it up and destroy it for the people who have grown up and created it, instead of that – people create their own versions all over the city – their own vibrant pockets of intense activity – covent garden, portobello road, knights bridge, piccadilly – etc, etc, etc

        Throwing up high rises and flooding fantastic areas with knobs from the suburbs destroys things – this is something Australia has yet to learn – you love it death, so isntead of coming in and occupying what we have created in Fitzroy, Carlton, CBD over 50 years of being a community and neighbourhood – CREATE YOUR OWN !!!

        Carlton remains great because there has been medium density without the ridiculous high rises – Fitzroy has been decimated and is now a boring destroyed shadow of its former self – while Melbourne CBD is either a wind tunnel, full of bogans bashing each other, strip bars and very, very, very bad development.

        The point being raised about high rise harry is that he does not give a stuff about who he impacts with his towers, neither do you – the very core of the problem with Australian development is that people simply want to make lots of money instead of making great developments with good architecture that will last for generations – its a revolting cash grab.

      • +1

        I live on the 26th floor and love it. Most towers also have pools/gyms and are close to everything.

        Like you say, we should muddle rent-seeking behaviour with providing a genuine social need.

    • McPaddyMEMBER

      It’s common for Australians to confuse the rubbish apartments/flats that are generally available in Australia with the concept of apartment living. Have lived in great apartments in Tokyo and Hong Kong for years now, have 2 young kids and I slightly dread the idea of moving back to Australia because I know that quality apartments are few and far between. That is a problem of lack of imagination and, frankly, brains. Who ever would design a city of 4 million people in predominantly single dwellings? It’s doomed not to work as a city.

  4. It is not surprising that Harry rolls out rapid population growth as the solution to a housing market where prices are soft.

    He has a fine line to tread. If local councils and state governments actually freed up the red tape limiting urban consolidation and thereby allowed developers to build lower cost units and townhouses where people want to live that may negatively impact the margins for skilled operators like Harry who can navigate the red tape better than most.

    Pumping up the population is a low risk approach.

    He has gone over the top though.

    • Low risk approach for Harry that is.

      Low / stable growth is all we need until we learn how to plan and build key infrastructure.

  5. This guy is incredibly dangerous and has the ear of politicians on both sides. Glad to see MB putting down his simplistic and self-serving arguments.

    I believe that Australians can see, despite what politicians say, that immigration to the moon is not the answer. I would almost say that Australia is doing well IN SPITE of our high population growth during the last 10 years, not because of it!

    If this kind of nonsense gets any traction it will drive young people to extreme environmentalist parties on the left and extreme nationalist parties on the right as they see their future yet again being squandered to prop up the retirements of the ageing boomers.

    • Broadly speaking, I believe that Australians can “see” (ie, intuitively) that most everything that politicians and “experts” say is BS.

      A huge problem in our society is, that not only said politicians and experts, but many of the rest of us too, choose to believe that “most people”, ie, average folks, are just plain stupid. They are not. They are merely time-poor, worry-rich, led by the nose, deceived and snowed under with twaddle and temptation at every turn, and above all, feel disempowered to actually *do* anything about all the lies and errors of judgement and resultant big problems caused by others, that they can see with varying degrees of clarity.

      IMO it is long past due time for policies and solutions to be drawn out from the wisdom of crowds, rather than dictated / bulls****ed from on high by those who cannot see the forest for the trees of their own ‘knowledge’ –

      “… the intellectual discovered that the masses no longer need him to gain knowledge: they know perfectly well, without illusion; they know far better than he and they are certainly capable of expressing themselves. But there exists a system of power which blocks, prohibits and invalidates this discourse and this knowledge, a power not only found in the manifest authority of censorship, but one that profoundly and subtly penetrates and entire societal network. Intellectuals are themselves agents of this system of power – the idea of their responsibility for ‘consciousness’ and discourse forms part of the system. The intellectual’s role is no longer to place himself ‘somewhat ahead and to the side’ in order to express the stifled truth of the collectivity; rather it is to struggle against the forms of power that transform him into its object and instrument in the sphere of ‘knowledge’, ‘truth’, ‘consciousness’ and ‘discourse'”

      ~ Michel Foucault, discussing the social unrest in France in May 1968

      • policies and solutions to be drawn out from the wisdom of crowds

        You’re kidding aren’t you?

        Then we’d only have policies such as baby bonuses and family tax act A’s, and we’d never have invested in a CSIRO.

        • Disagree RP. Give “ordinary” people credit for innate intelligence and reasonableness, and, the opportunity and responsibility to formulate policy for the greater good (rather than have it dictated to them by others beneath a smokescreen of so-called “public debate”), and I believe you would not see a preponderance of the kind of policies that you suggest.

        • arescarti42MEMBER

          “policies and solutions to be drawn out from the wisdom of crowds”

          You’ve got to be joking. If by your own admission, the average Joe is so time poor and easily deceived, how in the hell are they going to be able to build a working understanding of even a few of the issues and policy options available to government.

          And that makes the rather big assumption that they aren’t borderline retarded in the first place.

          • What I wrote:

            “They are merely time-poor, worry-rich, led by the nose, deceived and snowed under with twaddle and temptation at every turn, and above all, feel disempowered to actually *do* anything…”

            Could it be that the reason why so many are deceived, is because they are born into and raised in a world/circumstances that encourages, indeed almost guarantees, their ending up time-poor, worry-rich, et al?

            And could it be that, if appropriately empowered by being given the opportunity and responsibility, the “Average Joe” might just demonstrate a greater degree of cooperative effort, caution, and respect for community well-being, than the entirely self-serving career parasites currently running the show, and/or trying to run the show?

            The greatest problem for humanity is not economic. It is a surplus of conceit, and a deficit of humility.

            Given a theoretical switcheroo in Parliament, one replacing parasites with plebeians, I maintain that the one key ingredient that Average Joe would bring to the floor, is a more appropriate level of humility.

      • drsmithyMEMBER

        IMO it is long past due time for policies and solutions to be drawn out from the wisdom of crowds, rather than dictated / bulls****ed from on high by those who cannot see the forest for the trees of their own ‘knowledge’ –

        Looks like the Right’s anti-science, anti-intellectual crusade has been successful beyond their wildest hopes.

        “Drawing out the wisdom of crowds” just means everything from healthcare to houses will be reminiscent of “The Homer”.

        Now, to clarify, I don’t believe people are stupid. What I do believe is that people are generally ignorant outside of whatever their own specialty might happen to be (and I absolutely include myself in that judgement).

        The triumph of anti-intellectualism over the last couple of decades has been convincing people that anyone can be an “expert” just by doing a bit of reading (or in more modern times, a bit of Googling). Anyone who has spent some quality time on Wikipedia will know how impossible that is – the typical article is generally ok but to someone who has deep knowledge of the field, often riddled with small errors in the specifics or semantics.

        It blows my mind that anyone would write “[people] are merely time-poor, worry-rich, led by the nose, deceived and snowed under with twaddle and temptation at every turn […]” then turn around and argue we should prefer their conclusions on any given subject over individuals who have dedicated their lives to learning as much as there is to know on that same subject.

        If you had to have open heart surgery, would you crowdsource it and let a few hundred people remotely control the procedure, voting on what to do, or would you seek out the most knowledgeable and experience surgeon (or team of surgeons) you could afford ?

        • I did not “then turn around and argue we should prefer their conclusions on any given subject over individuals who have dedicated their lives to learning as much as there is to know on that same subject.”

          I suggested that we should replace parasitic career politicians.

          It’s very interesting to me that many (most?) here (including the bloggers) make a daily habit of questioning the knowledge, wisdom, commonsense, and integrity of the prevailing orthodoxies. And yet, some now baulk at the idea that the spruikers of same should be replaced?

          Unless someone here can mount a sound and compelling argument that Western society has been well served by its career politicians, and “yes”, by those same prevailing “experts” that most here question if not oft-times abuse with gusto day after day, then I stand by my assessment.

          • drsmithyMEMBER

            Unless someone here can mount a sound and compelling argument that Western society has been well served by its career politicians, and “yes”, by those same prevailing “experts” that most here question if not oft-times abuse with gusto day after day, then I stand by my assessment.
            Maybe your argument would be taken better if you gave some examples of what you meant when you wrote “experts”.

  6. Cognitive Dissonance

    If Australia looked at bit more like Argentina, in that, it was gifted with a decent mountain range that provided the rain, that allowed the forests to grow lush over a millennia, to create the fertile soils and lock away cumulated nutrients so we could chop it all down and create pastures or farm land.

    We have none of this, we have rain falling around the perimeter and a big dry centre with not much fertile soil, we have built on much of the fertile lands because we also like to live in these places and are largely exploiting what remains including emptying the underground aquifers on the inner limits of the big red centre.

    And we already import 20% of our food.

    Not a picture of growth at all, more a picture of already living beyond our means in this vast desert with pretty green edges.

    • Germany is half the size of NSW.

      The eastern half of NSW is fertile. So roughly the same size.

      7 million vs 70 million.

      Also, 80%+ of Victoria is fertile.

      As is 50%+ of Queensland.

      As is virtually all of Tasmania.

      I do agree that a modern city does not need to be on the river mouth of a fertile valley basin, like most Austraian cities are, they are well suited to wind-blown wastelands, like Perth. All they require is to be close to a source of harvestable water.

      In regards to ‘limited aquifers’, well that there is a sign of limited thinking.

      Australia would be well suited to have wind and tidal powered desalination plants on the coast that fed directly into the aquifers.

      The great artesian basin for example has a coastal footprint.

      http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_klPH-OTfCQ8/SS-H1vFtNFI/AAAAAAAABeY/W1_-IGQ_BO0/s400/map+of+GAB.gif

      Desalination plants at Normanton for example could replenish this aquifer as required.

      Many of our inlands locations have brilliant soil nutrients. Kalgoorlie is extremeley rich, it’s the shortage of water that prevents it from being fantastic farmland.

      Now 20% food imports? Didn’t Cameron Murray do a post querying the validity of that claim?

      Even if it is correct, it’s not necessarily a sign of impoverishment, it could actually be the reverse.

      • Comparing Germany to inland NSW? Germany receives on average 603mm rain annually. On balance there are 167 days annually on which greater than 0.1 mm of precipitation (rain, sleet, snow or hail) occurs. And even with all that rain (MUCH more than inland Australia), Germany imports over one-third of its food.

        Your argument is therefore somewhat suspect.

        • Ahh I wouldn’t be so sure to finalise that claim.

          To automatically assetr that rainfall will be directly correlated to food production is misleading.

          It could very well be, and intuitively I would would assume such a case, that currently agriculture is a low income, low wealth pursuit.

          Germany may elect to allocate its resources, or namely human resources, to other, higher wealth pursuits.

      • Diogenes the CynicMEMBER

        Some of the 20% is for things that cannot be grown here normally or during different seasons (think garlic for example or US navel oranges), some is due to the major retail chains searching for ever cheaper produce and putting our domestic suppliers out of business eg chinese broccoli anyone? The latter trend is to be detested as the various scares about Chinese produce attest.

        We could produce most of our own food but it would cost slightly more and we would not be able to always buy oranges throughout the year etc.

      • Cognitive Dissonance

        The numbers you cite do paint a soothing picture, but at the same time make a nonsense out of where our farmers choose to do there farming. A farmer would naturally choose the best farmland first with the greatest yield and at the least cost and make his way down to the stuff with a lesser yield at a greater cost. The numbers do little to explain why a percentage of marginal farmers are located in lower yield areas when the numbers cited appear to mock them.

        Desalination is a solution to a problem that will need more solutions other problems in the near future assuming that even a fraction of the required volumes can be produced economically. This is not an answer, like negative gearing is not an answer.

        Explaining what fertile means is also a very complex.

        20% of the food imports, some of this is because we like French cheeses, or out of season fruit yes but it is still a illustrates a external dependence, subject to global influence. We are internally structurally geared for this and only grow 80% because 20% comes from elsewhere. Making 80% = 100% takes a long time, years, and that’s just to stand still.

        The Chinese are also buying up farmland with these $US they have, globally……..but they have yet to propose to the government a lease agreement for all that lovely fertile land…….they are doing it elsewhere

        • The numbers you cite do paint a soothing picture, but at the same time make a nonsense out of where our farmers choose to do there farming.

          Well I’m not making a nonsense. I am pointing out that all our settlements started on the basis of agricultural communities, thus occupying prime quality farmland.

          Current pricing structures have land prices at best use, and urban development takes precedence.

          Urban land use policy is dictated by a critical mass in population, in a sense it prevails ‘where they are’. The irrigation potential and soil nutrient content are irrelevant.

          It’d be nice if the 4 million people of Sydney were bunched in a wasteland along the Great Australian Bight, but we can’t go back in time

          A farmer would naturally choose the best farmland first with the greatest yield and at the least cost and make his way down to the stuff with a lesser yield at a greater cost. The numbers do little to explain why a percentage of marginal farmers are located in lower yield areas when the numbers cited appear to mock them.

          Because there was a time when prices dictated farming in marginal areas were viable.

          They moved there for economic reasons.

          They maintain their locations and ask for subsidies to ‘keep communities alive’.

          The resist moving once again for non-economic reasons.

          An asymmetric battlefield I would say.

          Desalination is a solution to a problem that will need more solutions other problems in the near future assuming that even a fraction of the required volumes can be produced economically.

          OK. Humanity has always provided solutions to problems it faces. Water is a fixed ratio of the planet, we may have to expand its ecological use.

          This is not an answer, like negative gearing is not an answer.

          ?? How did you pull that rabbit out of a hat ??

          Explaining what fertile means is also a very complex.
          20% of the food imports, some of this is because we like French cheeses, or out of season fruit yes but it is still a illustrates a external dependence, subject to global influence. We are internally structurally geared for this and only grow 80% because 20% comes from elsewhere. Making 80% = 100% takes a long time, years, and that’s just to stand still.

          No it doesn’t automatically explain an external dependence at all, that is empirically false.

          It can be explained by prices not demanding the allocation of scarce resources, such as labour, to this endeavour, when alternatives that demand labour offer greater reward.

          Behavioural factors, such as consumption of out of season produce also explains its.

          The Chinese are also buying up farmland with these $US they have, globally……..but they have yet to propose to the government a lease agreement for all that lovely fertile land…….they are doing it elsewhere

          OK.

          That’s perfectly rational. They have acquired a surplus of USD on the back of the US consumer, and internal Chinese policies not distributing any more to the Chinese peasant.

          Now as the US continuously debases its currency, it makes sense for them to exchange it for real assets. Now this is a case of our self interest thinking they should be idyllic little creditors and only buy consumption items (as long as they don’t threaten inflation).

          Their behaviour is rational, ours isn’t.

          However, there is very little risk for our own food security. A simple policy response is to ban food exports.

          Then all they capture is the financial yield of the asset, something near meaningless.

          • The rats would have a good feed on all the surplus wheat. At the same time we might run very short of sea food and various vegetables.

            As to the aggravation of the CAD this creates I suppose we can sell off the mines faster.

          • The rats would have a good feed on all the surplus wheat. At the same time we might run very short of sea food

            Why would we run out of sea food?

            We hav claim to the largest portion of the oceans in the world.

            And even if we do, our eatting behaviour can adapt to the alternatives.

            and various vegetables.

            ??

            Malnutrition, or starvation due to lack of vegetables?

            Really!

  7. 100% agree with your arguments UE, but want to add something to your first one:

    immigration is good only if it raises the real average incomes of the pre-existing population (e.g. GDP per capita).

    Not only GDP/capita as better measurement of immigration effect to current existing population but the income/wealth equality measurement e.g. Gini coefficient etc.

    As a recent immigrant (less than 10 years) I can see that the huge waves of immigrants in Australia is not only not beneficial to the existing population’s prosperity but even making it worse in certain areas like income/wealth distribution, egalitarianism and social harmony / cohesion.

  8. Keep the ponzi scheme going without a thought about the quality of life, pollution, resources like water; desal is not the answer. We’d have to go nuclear for electricity, and the problems just keep growing from there.

    We have to take seriously that the planet can’t sustain the current population, and he wants more. More debt, more velocity of money to suite his own desires.

    Even in my suburb of Melbourne congestion is a huge problem and to have say 5 x the population it would be grid locked.

    • Even in my suburb of Melbourne congestion is a huge problem and to have say 5 x the population it would be grid locked.

      Well the solution is 5 Melbourne’s in different locations, such as Townsville, Normanton, Geraldton, Kunnunurra, Albany.

      Not making Melbourne the size of Mexico city.

      • Good luck with that Rusty. Forget about sustainable living, and we’ll just add to the population mess. Maybe in the distant future it will be possible, but fiscally how are we going to pay for it?

        • How would Albany increasing in size to a major metroplis impact on the sustainability of anywhere else other than the great Southern region of W.A?

          Inhabitation when there is no premium due to speculation pays for itself.

          That said, please don’t place me as a supporter of Tribugoff. I think his activity is despicable.

          His headstone should read;

          “Here lies Harry, he dumped his crap all over Sydney, it will take centuries to repair the damage.”

          • I’ll have to disagree that is would on water alone, but in the future maybe if tech progresses beyond desal. I’m no expert, but I’ve worked all over the world, and my experience is that more is not better. There are huge consequences for expanding just to keep the debt based economy going.

          • I’m not trumping up bigger for the sake of bigger, I’m rather indifferent to be honest.

            I think its harmful however to have, what I percieve to be anyway, inaccurate views being put forward as gospel.

            I think ‘Australian carrying capacity is 23 million’ is one such view.

            Now I believe we have plenty of potential to harvest water, especially in the tropics.

            Now ‘keep the debt based economy going’.

            There are many things in life that can not be built from foregone consumption.

            Who can save $8 billion from their surplus to build a dam for example?

            Things clearly are paid with debt with the promise to be paid from future earnings, especially if said development increases productive capacity.

            I agree to disband the notion of paying for for houses, but a higher population paying 3 times wages for their houses, if they are new to the country, I do not see a problem with.

          • Fair enough Rusty. Again, I’m no expert, but my fear is that politicians and bureaucrats will grab this, screw it up, and future generations will suffer the consequences. Hopefully, good, but I have no faith in any of our leaders.

            Cheers

  9. Great post Leith this says everything I have thought for a long time on both Harry and the population debate.

    The interesting part is that business and politics never dare touch this side of the debate.

    Again, this is part of why the Greens are making inroads.

  10. Second, Australia earns its way in the world mainly by selling its fixed mineral resources. More people means less resources per capita. A growing population also means that we must deplete our mineral resources faster, just to maintain a constant standard of living. This doesn’t sound like a smart approach to me.

    Yep! More people crowded into cities that only consume through service industries and more government means we import more with no extra exports. We already run a chronic CAD. Unfortunately our response to the CAD has not been to become more productive. In fact quite the opposite has occurred and we have chosen to sell not the product of the mines but the mines themselves to fund our extra consumption.
    So I don’t think we’d work and dig up stuff faster. We’ll just do what we always do and sell off more of our mines, agricultural land, and industries to finance our increased consumption.

    Somehow the truth of our real situation re the CAD and the sell-off of our assets to finance consumption has got to be told and got out to the mainstream. Then people like Triguboff would really have to justify their stupidity.

    Re CAD’s Herb Stein’s Law applies “If something cannot go on forever, it will stop!”

  11. Fantastic post, says exactly what I’ve been thinking for a while – only far more effectively.

  12. Great post Leith!

    Immigration is such a thorny issue that unfortunately always gets exploited by the rentiers and extremists alike.

    While the data you present clearly shows the GDP per capita has flatlined since 2007 despite the immigration, it is not clear that it would have continued to hold its trend in the absence of immigration.

    Second, I am not expert in these matters, but the unemployment has not gotten worse since 2007 for whatever reasons. Thus immigrants are able to get jobs and pay their their dues, just like the locals working similar jobs. It is quite probable that the most immigrants are working in less productive areas, but that is clearly a policy failure.

    In fact, none of the issues with immigration/overpopulation seem “structural” — can we honestly say that given its fertile landmass and resources, Australia cannot accommodate increased population once proper policies are enacted? RP above shows that the Australian fertile land is much much larger than many european countries put together. True, Australia earns its keep by selling resources, but can we say that this will still be the case twenty years from now on if immigration tap is turned off? Manufacturing, well, it is doomed in all the western economies except Germany which has much larger population than AUstralia.

    Triguboff is complaining because he wants to make money by feeding the housing ponzi. But immigration is just a tiny drip that helps keep ponzi alive, but zoning restrictions, cheap credit and tax laws are like blood transfusions that enabled the housing ponzi to grow. These issues will still be there once the immigration tap is closed.

    I am not making the case that immigration is good or it is bad; Leith’s data shows that it cannot be sustained given the current policies. But given the current policies, we are doomed anyways and immigration will have nothing to do with it. So who will we blame next?

    • Really interesting stuff coolnik. My thought would be that you’re right, there are broader policy failures and the issues with overpopulation are not due to immigration per se – however, immigration allows us to “paper over” some of these problems (changing demographics, for example).

      It’s true that GPD per capita may not have grown without immigration (and may well have fallen), but that in and of itself is something that we should confront. At the moment we don’t because continued population growth = economic growth = she’ll be right mate. Whereas if we can no longer just rely on more people to buy our poorly zoned, negatively geared, highly leveraged and over-priced houses, maybe we’ll start to have serious discussions about how to fix the other issues.

      • Quite right, but you will notice the immigration/overpopulation always becomes just another football. As you say correctly, in the good times, it is “continued population growth = economic growth = she’ll be right mate” and in the bad times “continued population growth = lowering standard of living = immigrants are destroying Aus”

        No on bothers to ask it is really true and if so why? Those are difficult questions, so average joe continues to live his life and rentiers and extremists benefit. It has always been the same everywhere in the world, and Australia is no exception.

        • That’s a fair point, and I think is part of the problem in discussing the issue: it’s hard to have a reasoned debate without it turning into a slanging match or politicised issue (sidenote – this is probably the most civilised discussion I’ve ever had on this issue). It’s also hard to separate out the various effects – i.e., how many of the problems are being caused/exacerbated/mitigated by immigration, and to what extent.

          Not sure what the solution to it is, though.

  13. Not so much anger at HRH, my anger is directed at people like Gotti that give rent-seekers a mouthpiece to propagandise their vested interest to the detriment of ordinary residents.

    How much more shameless and servile can our MSM become?

    • The Patrician

      Go easy on Captain Mainwaring.
      His battle-hardened tactics have worked for last 40 years.
      It fear the good captain and his platoon might not be up to the retraining.

  14. Mr SquiggleMEMBER

    I love this post. There is only one point I would make.

    From argument 4

    ‘Simply importing more workers to cover the retirement of the baby boomers only delays the ageing problem’

    I don’t understand how this ‘delay’ works.

    The median age of all Australians is 31 years of age.

    By comparison, the migrant demographic has a median age of 46. If migrants account for 1 in 4 Australians, surely our median age is already higher than it would otherwise be.

    (0.75*x)+ (0.25 * 46) = 31. So x = 26?

    Our median age could be 26 without migration- or am i oversimplifying things

    Sorry for not citing a source for the above, (under pressure at work just now) but I’ve checked ABS.gov for this before, I knwo they are there

    • Because these people who are on average aged 26, reach the retirment age one day.

      The issue is the dependency ratio.

      That is how many people working compared to those that are not working.

      When the number of prevailing workers, as it is now, becomes too low, then add more workers.

      One day, they cease working too.

      The problem is the extant number of non-workers is determined by a policy that says ‘you don’t have to work anymore, here’s a line of income to support you instead’.

      The ratio didn’t matter when you received this income at aged 60, and you died at age 62.

      It matters more when you live to 86.

      If you adjusted retirement age downwards to 35, you’d exacerbate the problem even more.

      The issue is the retirement age, thus a burden that has to be borne by the baby boomers.

      They’ve never done any heavy lifting for another generation in their life, they aren’t going to start now.

  15. rob barrattMEMBER

    And now for your multi-choice questions ladies & gentlemen.

    Q1: Does Harry Triguboff live in :

    a) A small high rise apartment; or
    b) A Vaucluse mansion.

    Q2: When should he be planning on retiring:

    a) now
    b) now

  16. I can just visualise some NSW treasury boffin doing his numbers based on falling GST revenue, ” we have a budget black hole” we need more stamp duty !
    We need more people to buy.
    Ring Harry !

  17. Rumplestatskin

    Couldn’t have said it better myself. I think it is part of the role of MB to point our this type of rent-seeking vested interest nonsense, to provide a source of common sense analysis. Top stuff Leith.

  18. “Our desalination must be fantastic. Our rivers must flow the right way.”

    Our rivers must flow the right way????

    Wow! And here’s me thinking that nature took care of that.

    • I think he means rivers of gold. And they must flow the right way……directly towards his pocket.

  19. Great post UE. When I saw HT’s piece on BS I could barely believe it. It’s good to see the other side of the story set out with some actual analysis.

    If these dim-witted, corporatized, compromised cabals that are the Australian political parties want to figure out why they rank with foot fungus in the respect stakes, then maybe they should start with putting the opinions of the corporates back in the distasteful self interest.