Population ponzi: the elephant missing in the election

By Leith van Onselen

Last week,­ Essential Research released an opinion poll commissioned by SBS, which showed that the overwhelming majority of Australians do not support the high levels of immigration experienced over the past decade:

ScreenHunter_13128 May. 26 08.47

As shown above, 59% of Australians surveyed believed that “the level of immigration into Australia over the last ten years has been too high”,  more than double the 28% of Australians that disagreed with that statement.

Over the past decade, Australia’s population has grown at one of the fastest rates in the developed world and far above the historical average:

ScreenHunter_12942 May. 12 10.52

We were told that Australia needed high immigration to supply it with necessary skills during the mining boom. And yet, the mining boom is long gone and Australia’s immigration intake remains highly elevated.

Worse, the lion’s share of the population growth has poured into Australia’s two biggest and already most overcrowded cities: Sydney and Melbourne:

ScreenHunter_13129 May. 26 08.54

With Sydney and Melbourne, in particular, straining under under the weight of continual high population growth – think widespread infrastructure bottlenecks, rising congestion, and record low housing affordability – it’s amazing that the population ponzi has been ignored in this year’s Federal Election campaign.

It’s not like all these extra residents piling into our cities are boosting material living standards.

While headline GDP growth across Australia has held-up reasonably well over the past decade, thanks to high immigration, per capita real GDP has trending down so sharply that is has fallen to levels not seen since the early-1980s recession:

ScreenHunter_11961 Mar. 09 15.27

Effectively, all rapid immigration has done is create the illusion of growth, along with a boom in congestion. Meanwhile, individual living standards have slid backwards.

Meanwhile, our two biggest cities have become less productive, as evident by their woeful trade performances. Merchandise exports in both states have recorded tepid growth, whereas each state’s trade deficits have blown-out enormously. This suggests that both Sydney and Melbourne are effectively sucking financial resources from the mining states in order to support their respective population fetishes (see below charts).

ScreenHunter_13131 May. 26 09.16
ScreenHunter_13130 May. 26 09.15

In other words, as rampant population growth has flooded Sydney and Melbourne – with the lion’s share of new arrivals working in non-productive “bullshit” services jobs – exports have stagnated and the trade balance has deteriorate sharply as more and more services workers purchase imports, like cars and TVs, without earning the nation export income.

I know what you are thinking: but Australia is experiencing a services exports boom, right? Well actually, the services trade balance is stuck firmly in deficit too:

ScreenHunter_13132 May. 26 09.24

We also shouldn’t forget that Australia’s fixed mineral endowment (resources base) – the main driver of our wealth – is diluted by mass immigration. For example, if the population doubles over the next 40 years, then this implies that Australia’s per capita resources base will be diluted by a corresponding amount. It also means that our fixed endowment of resources must be sold-off twice as quickly just to maintain our standard of living, other things equal.

Ultimately, Australia’s population ponzi is the epitome of an unsustainable economic model, whereby an illusion of growth has been created, along with a boom in congestion. Meanwhile, individual living standards are sliding backwards.

The electorate seems to be catching on, if the above opinion poll is anything to go by. It’s about time our political representatives do too.

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Comments

  1. AlbyManglesMEMBER

    we got dog boxes to fill, move along, nothing else matters, dog boxes to fill

    • Hold on. Those dog boxes aren’t actually meant to be lived in. They’re also perfect for condemnation if there is ever a glut.

    • naturaltrustMEMBER

      Not sure what you mean about dog boxes to fill Alby. But I do agree that we have become a more dog box society insofar as housing is concerned as a result of recent immigration. The dog boxes being the smaller homes and apartments due to higher land prices. And immigration is largely the cause of that; aided by State Government’s withholding land for development and using Land Tax and Stamp duty to exploilt home owners and renters.

      If we stop immigration, or reduce it to a trickle, then housing and the attendant need for infrastructure will be positively affected. Prices for land, (upon which houses are built) will fall and the need for additional infrastructure such as roads, sewerage, water, schools, parks and more will fall also.

      Stopping immigration will make a lot of property fall to a price where it will be available for new enterprise and community use as well as housing. There are many other positive results under this scenario.

      It is good that most of those surveyed are seeing that the problem exists.

      Now we need action from politicians.

      • Agree and land tax will make sure we make our business and economy more competitive. So slowing of immigration and a land tax would be the best things that could happen in this country. Help stop the land bankers etc..

      • naturaltrustMEMBER

        A Land Tax would just make land more expensive Gavin.

        Think about this:

        1: Land Tax is applied to housing. Price of house falls because of Land Tax to a value that takes account of the cost of the Land Tax.

        2: The only change is that the occupier has to pay more to live in the house.

        How does that benefit anyone?

        3: Poor people,such as the unemployed, disabled, low income earners and people such as pensioners now have to pay more to live in any house and the weekly cost of Land Tax can be more than they can afford. The result is that they have to move to cheaper accommodation and as Land Tax is payable that simply means a less desirable location.

        4: Who will move into the newly vacant home? Will there automatically appear a wealthier person who can afford to pay the weekly Land Tax? Why do you want to give wealthier people the homes of poorer people?

        5: As there are a given number of people for a given number of houses and the higher Land Tax applies to them all there is no advantage for any of them. The only change will be that everyone will now have to pay higher Land Tax and some poor people will have to exchange their better homes with some wealthier people who can afford the higher weekly payments of Land Tax.

      • Rusty PennyMEMBER

        “1: Land Tax is applied to housing.”

        No, land tax is applied to land.

        here, let’s help break it down….. “Land” + Tax”. Therefore it includes residential, industrial, commercials, agricultural, pastoral and mineral lands.

        “Price of house falls because of Land Tax to a value that takes account of the cost of the Land Tax”

        Which is a good thing. Quality of living IS real prices falling.

        “2: The only change is that the occupier has to pay more to live in the house.”

        If an introduction of land tax correlates with a reduction in income tax, they have the means to pay it.

        “How does that benefit anyone?”

        We have a tax which is unavoidable.

        “3: Poor people,such as the unemployed, disabled, low income earners and people such as pensioners now have to pay more to live in any house and the weekly cost of Land Tax can be more than they can afford.

        Imagine giving other types of financial advice based in this…..

        “The result is that they have to move to cheaper accommodation and as Land Tax is payable that simply means a less desirable location.”

        Not if the price goes down, therefore the yield.

        “4: Who will move into the newly vacant home?”

        A tenant who can afford the rent.

        That’s how a rental market works.

        “Will there automatically appear a wealthier person who can afford to pay the weekly Land Tax?”

        The capacity of renters doesn’t morph into different calibrations. All that changes is that assets values change based on expected net yield.

        “Why do you want to give wealthier people the homes of poorer people?”

        The composition of the housing market doesn’t change.

        “5: As there are a given number of people for a given number of houses and the higher Land Tax applies to them all there is no advantage for any of them.”

        It’s of benefit to the tax payer, which they are.

        “The only change will be that everyone will now have to pay higher Land Tax and some poor people will have to exchange their better homes with some wealthier people who can afford the higher weekly payments of Land Tax.”

        Wealthier people aren’t going to vacate their current homes, because the tier below them has a new tax dopey.

      • naturaltrustMEMBER

        Your assertions are not correct on several counts,Rusty Penny; one is:

        Your objective: The stated objective of yourself and others is to get baby boomers out of their large homes and/or have them pay higher taxes via Land Tax which may or may not be converted into a reverse mortgage until their home is sold up before or after their death.

        I wrote: “The only change will be that everyone will now have to pay higher Land Tax and some poor people will have to exchange their better homes with some wealthier people who can afford the higher weekly payments of Land Tax.”

        You wrote, Rusty penny: “Wealthier people aren’t going to vacate their current homes, because the tier below them has a new tax”

        Sorry Rustypenny. You cannot have it both ways.

    • Pretty much. The true neo-liberal stripes of the supposed party for the worker showed when they opened the foreign ownership / PR spigot after KRudd came into power.

      Labor doesn’t represent labour; it hasn’t for a long time.

  2. GunnamattaMEMBER

    Thats because there is bilateral consensus (ALP & LNP) that the population ponzi must be run – for any range of given reasons – and agreement that no matter who wins the election it will be run to the greatest possible extent. No questions asked, by either side of mainstream politics. (see silence on ATO data match vis foreigners buying real estate silence on AML laws, and splurges on infrastructure spending – underlining idea that intensive migration creates jobs right now)

    • Crisis required to have this addressed, Current account and unemployment. Billions of dollars transferred home, a million and a half centrelink payments we won’t be able to afford.

    • The Patrician

      +1 Since when has it been the policy of “the party of the working poor” to overload the country with imported cannon fodder labour for the corporate rich?

    • Aided by the fact Murdoch and friends broadly support a big Australia, and much of the rest of the media don’t seem to want to touch this issue. Although I did read a great article in the Age about the effect population growth has on living standards and quality of living. And of course there is MB and a few others. But yes, the major parties are united on this issue.

      I guess while our large immigration intake is propping up economic growth and house prices people are willing to begrudgely accept it. But what happens if we have a recession and many of the country’s bs jobs disappear and the labour market becomes a whole lot more competitive? Will we start to see the same political tensions that the U.S and Europe are experiencing? Our politicians and business community are playing a risky game here, and the backlash could be ugly.

      • One of the things that may be a by-product of this election is the sidelining of big media’s ability to hijack the conversation.

        Many to be congratulated on the but none more than our own MB team 🙂

  3. Australia’s finished.

    Thanks to left wing stupidity that’s allowed the rich to conflate refugees/PC/xenophobia with population growth.

    Gone is open space, our culture, cheap housing, fairness, employment, opportunity for our own kids, adequate infrastructure, booking restaurants, environment (ironic), holidaying within 4 hours on the coast, sensible people that loved what we had to vote against it.

    Sorry but it’s finished. Nothing can reverse it now. We’ll be 50m within 30 years and then we’ll vote to become a Chinese Provence and go to hundreds of millions.

    Call me a xenophobe and I’ll f%%$ing scream.

    • You are a racist. You only complain about the left speaking on behalf of the tiny amount of refugees. Yet you say nothing about the right bringing 300k+ via 457 and PR, and don’t forget the cake making PR scam from the Howard years.

      • FFS mate. Reread what I said.

        conflate refugees/PC/xenophobia with population growth.

        Like I said, this is the left’s fault, you couldn’t even read what I said and see it for a rant about POPULATION. YOU ARE THE PROBLEM.

      • And you are genius! While crying about refugees and rainbow kaleidoscope dreams you’ve forgotten about protesting wars of empire that generate them.

    • I see it differently, I believe its the Right nutters that supress debate via conflation that you correctly identify. Growth at all costs (to others) !

    • @tonydd

      Absolutely it is, but who else to stop them but the left? That’s my point, there is no debate because the left won’t have one.

      • Yeah, you’re probably right. As a “leftie” I’m very, very much torn on this issue. I don’t feel comfortable speaking got out on this issue (not that it stops me) and I do feel xenophobic when I do. Maybe I am, but I don’t personally understand how anyone can support what has happened to Melbourne in recent years. It’s seems like a recipe for political, social and economy disaster if we have a bad recession.

    • drsmithyMEMBER

      Call me a xenophobe and I’ll f%%$ing scream.

      You’re a xenophobe aiding and abetting the decline by monomaniacally focusing on refugees and absolving the real perpetrators through an irrational hatred of “the left”, only able to define a narrative in which they are to blame.

      It’s like blaming a rape victim because she didn’t scream loud enough.

      • FFS mate. Reread what I said.

        conflate refugees/PC/xenophobia with population growth.

        Like I said, this is the left’s fault, you couldn’t even read what I said and see it for a rant about POPULATION. YOU ARE THE PROBLEM.

        You reinforce my hatred of the left. So blind you cannot see.

        The left are like 6 year olds. How’s the saying go?

        “show me someone that’s not “left” at 20 and they haven’t got a heart”

        “show me someone that’s “left” at 40 and they haven’t got a brain”

        Go and read the thread again.

      • “irrational hatred of “the left””

        It’s not irrational. It’s the left that are failing to have the debate because they’re so scared of being called racist. That’s always been my point.

      • drsmithyMEMBER

        You’re just demonstrating my point.

        If someone (“Australia”) was getting beaten up in the street, you’d lay the blame for the victims injuries on the random bystanders (“the left”) not helping rather than the guy throwing the punches (“neoliberals”).

        Utterly irrational.

      • ”It’s like blaming a rape victim because she didn’t scream loud enough.”

        A sexist remark, no ? Tolerance of intolerance is also helpful.

        I happen to like the current racial mix, leaning toward more Asian but less of other types or migrants.

      • drsmithyMEMBER

        A sexist remark, no ?

        Not according to any definition of sexism I’m aware of.

        Tolerance of intolerance is also helpful.

        What does that even mean ?

      • Rusty PennyMEMBER

        “Tolerance of intolerance is also helpful.

        What does that even mean ?”

        It means that tolerance by itself is not a virtue.

        And when it’s assigned base don identity politics, it’s actually harmful for reasoned thought.

      • Monomaniac… Says the guy who bailed Sydney for calmer waters…. Hypocrite! That’s the word to describe the leftorium

      • drsmithyMEMBER

        Monomaniac… Says the guy who bailed Sydney for calmer waters…. Hypocrite! That’s the word to describe the leftorium

        Predictably incoherent as always, Mig.

      • Constructed especially for you smithy! How’s the misses, still designing coal burners? ??

        But seriously I hope you’re both well and you haven’t fallen off any of your bikes and

      • Did I mention with added emojis? I think I finally figured this language out ?
        No wait.

    • wow Kevin & drsmithy seriously?

      The point was that deliberate confusing of refugee and broader immigration issues has rendered both as nothing but a political football and destroyed all hope of rational discussion. Why? because any disagreement is immediately dismissed as an exercise in racism or xenophobia. You can apply the same #outrage mentality to any modern social issue (race, gender, religion you name it).

      Blame the left, blame the right, they are both willing participants on EVERY LEVEL. But your responses, “racist” “xenophobe”, you literally could not conjure a better example of the posters point. If that is your immediate reaction to the topic at hand, I believe the SMH or Mamamia comments section would better serve your needs.

      • drsmithyMEMBER

        The point was that deliberate confusing of refugee and broader immigration issues has rendered both as nothing but a political football and destroyed all hope of rational discussion.

        Yes. I understand the point quite well. I’ve been saying the same thing for years.

        However, rather than attacking the people doing the conflating, rich42 has to blame “the left”, since he’s been told his whole life they’re the problem with the world.

        Further, rich42 almost solely talks about refugees in his screeds about “population growth”. Rarely, if ever, the actual source of that population growth.

        Rich has a long history posting here on the topic. Usually he ends up flipping over to global population growth at some point, again blaming it all on “the left”, yet when asked what his solutions to the problem are, inevitably suggests ideas that are textbook “the left” policy (eg: better legal protections for women, better access to birth control & abortions).

        When Rich starts attacking the people actually responsible, rather than a rounding error’s worth of refugees and “the left” straw men, he’ll have a point.

      • AlbyManglesMEMBER

        hmmm, calling someone a xenophobe for pointing out something that you agree with…. that’s not left wing that’s stupid

      • Funny how it’s the same apologists for islamic terrorism playing the racism card as soon as someone dares walk outside the “acceptable” narrative.

        Who are the fascists again?

      • @drsmithy

        “the left” policy (eg: better legal protections for women, better access to birth control & abortions)….When Rich starts attacking the people actually responsible, rather than a rounding error’s worth of refugees and “the left” straw men, he’ll have a point.

        I have never changed my view or angle. It has always been about population, not refugees.

        “straw men”. There’s the irony

        @drsmithy. Don’t reply to my posts, I have zero respect for your view.

      • drsmithyMEMBER

        hmmm, calling someone a xenophobe for pointing out something that you agree with…. that’s not left wing that’s stupid

        He’s not pointing out something I agree with, he’s demonstrating why he’s part of the problem.

      • Well said Brent.
        This is not a left/right issue. It involves both head and heart and it is about survival is the face of massive stress to the global social order brought on by overpopulation by our species.

    • LachlanMEMBER

      So in Richard’s world you don’t blame the right for shafting everyone except their rich mates and being basically evil. That’s like blaming a dog for barking. It’s in their nature. Instead, blame the left for not being better at calling the right out. Is that how it works?

      • @Lachlan

        So here’s the problem. The rich right want to fill your country with 10’s of millions of people that erode everything you have.

        Yeah you’re on to something, do nothing.

      • WN, You are correct, NOM has fallen from over 200K pa over the past few years but that’s not the point. The point is that people continue to get refugees mixed up with immigrants. Refugees = 13,700 pa but immigrants are much larger in number. Whether that is 167700 or 180300 as it was the year before and larger again in previous years, the point is about conflating numbers.

      • Peter
        Refugees are part of our NOM caps, and last year the cap was 220,000 and we only filled 167,700 places. Open the door and they will flood in , is a myth.

      • W-N, Migrant numbers are influenced by a willingness by business to sponsor skilled arrivals, not by the number of people who would come if they could. The fall off in NOM reflects fewer acceptances to valid jobs by the immigration department, not a lack of willingness of people to migrate if they could get 457 or other visas to come.
        A long overdue crack down on dodgy backdoor “student” visas may also be impacting on NOMs.

  4. Interesting, you could make an argument that the average Australian actually doesn’t understand the overall level of immigration. The average Australian, under the guidance of politicians and the media is led to believe immigration is primarily a refugee issue and maybe some 457’s.

    It would be interesting to see the results of such a poll if the questions were asked after providing readers with a few dot point facts. Did you Know?
    – Refugee intake is just x% of total immigration.
    – Over the last X years over Xxx,000 people settled in Australia each year
    – For X in X years this was among the highest immigration levels (per capita) in the developed world
    – X% of those settled in Sydney and Melbourne.
    – Both side of politics currently have no policy intention to reduce this (with some calling for increases)

    Now………… how do you feel about immigration?

      • the average Australian knows something is wrong

        but so long as state of origin is on, and the broncos are winning, doesn’t care

        look at the crap in our major papers every day

      • AlbyManglesMEMBER

        the average reality tv watching strayan moron has definitely woken up and noticed they are the only English speaking person on George st or in Myer or in the local café.

      • @drsmithy

        I couldn’t agree more. Allowed by the left avoiding debate on population through fear of seeming racist.

        Please try and understand what I’m saying. It’s simple stuff. The rich want many many many more people, the left want a handful of refugees. Wouldn’t it be far more prudent for the left to debate this publicly by saying we have a population problem?

        I kid you not, where my partner works, they’re not even allowed to discuss population because it’s synonymous with racism THAT IS THE LEFTS FAULT FOR LETTING THAT HAPPEN.

      • @Richard Truly admirable in your attempt to bring some reason nto a discourse about a serious problem. But in today’s world value-signalling is more important than anything else. So therefore you’re a racist.

        It’s like some kind of bingo game.

      • drsmithyMEMBER

        But in today’s world value-signalling is more important than anything else.

        Now there’s the some weapons-grade irony,

  5. hard to believe that our population is increasing the size of major towns per year eg Toowoomba, ballarat etc

    every
    year

  6. TailorTrashMEMBER

    “Meanwhile, individual living standards are sliding backwards” ……………..they are equalising to the standard of living in the source country of the majority of the new immigrants ……welcome to the soon to be 3rd world Australia led by Sydmelb

  7. Sustainable Australia Party has a logo on the senate ballot paper “Reduce Immigration”. Should go well.

    • azxylonMEMBER

      Read their platform. Overall seems quite rational to me. The Greens and Labor might gain some milage by taking a few leaves out of their prayer book.

      • “The Greens and Labor might gain some milage by taking a few leaves out of their prayer book.”

        Although I like the many of the Green’s policies, they’re clearly not too interested in this issue (regardless of whether population growth in Melbourne is remotely sustainable). I may not entirely agree with the tone of Richard’s comments, but he definitely has a point about the lack of debate on this issue. The result could be ugly long term, too. Instead of a constructive and rational debate, the extreme right may once again come in and fill the breach! Then we all lose, especially if they manage to tap into people’s frustrations like in Europe and the U.S.

      • drsmithyMEMBER

        Although I like the many of the Green’s policies, they’re clearly not too interested in this issue (regardless of whether population growth in Melbourne is remotely sustainable).

        The Greens have long standing policies around deprioritising skilled immigration intake and establishing “sustainable” levels of immigration.

        You may criticise them for not banging on about it ad nauseum, and that is a fair criticism, but in context it is an understandable decision.

  8. Thank random Deities that people are waking up.

    I gave a lecture at the local Uni a couple of weeks ago, and the course convener told me that there were no Australian citizens in a class of 70+ students. All of them were foreigners, and all of them were looking for PR.

    I dunno about Melbourne, but I’ve been to Sydney a few times in the last year, and it’s rooted. This bullshit has to stop.

  9. Belligerent Blue Jay

    ‘It’s about time our political representatives do too’
    Looking at who donates to the major political parties I hazard a guess that the pollies are aware.

  10. MediocritasMEMBER

    Given that inflation is routinely under-estimated for the vast majority of people, the value for real GDP per capita growth, experienced by most people is actually negative.

    High immigration while living standards are already falling is just stupid.

  11. Gen Y Home Buyer

    Please unlock this post and send it to all current and prospective MPs!!!

  12. I second @Gen Y Homebuyer. Unlock the post so we can send it to all loca MP’s.

  13. naturaltrustMEMBER

    Your assertions are not correct on several counts, one is:

    Your objective: The stated objective of yourself and others is ti get baby boomers out of their large homes and/or have them pay higher taxes via Land Tax which may or may not be converted into a reverse mortgage until their home is sold up before or after their death.

    I wrote: “The only change will be that everyone will now have to pay higher Land Tax and some poor people will have to exchange their better homes with some wealthier people who can afford the higher weekly payments of Land Tax.”

    You wrote, Rusty penny: “Wealthier people aren’t going to vacate their current homes, because the tier below them has a new tax”

    Sorry Rustypenny. You cannot have it both ways.

  14. 3 years in a row of falling actual births, now down below 300,000 is a major demographic issue.
    80 years after a baby boom comes a death bust and our the next few decades our natural growth may drop to zero or perhaps even negative.
    NOM is over 35% down from its 2009 peak.

    Just saying