Stress spreads as population ponzi overruns major capitals

By Leith van Onselen

Another week and more reports have emerged on how Australia’s uncoordinated mass immigration program is destroying living standards in Australia’s biggest cities.

Let’s start with Australia’s biggest city, Sydney, which is failing to cope with the influx of inner-city school students following a “once-in-a-generation” enrollment surge. From The SMH:

“Sydney is facing a once-in-a-generation enrolment surge and, unfortunately for us, or fortunately for the city, it is happening in the built-up infill areas,” said [Department of Education’s Anthony Perrau].

…the number of primary school-aged children forecast to increase more than 50 per cent between 2015 and 2025…

Green Square and Ultimo are set to become two of Australia’s most densely populated suburbs within the next decade.

“Major physical and social infrastructure has been delivered by the city and developers but investment by the NSW government has not kept up,” she said.

“There is a lack of urgency to tackle the shortfall of school places and provide for rapid growth, especially in our major urban renewal areas.”

The very same problem is occurring in Melbourne, where inner-city schools are being crush-loaded by the record population influx. From The SMH:

Many public schools are now overcrowded to the point where it is surely compromising educational standards. In about three years, Victorian schools will be teaching one million students.

Some schools, particularly in inner suburbs and areas of booming population growth, have been forced to stagger start times and lunch breaks. Two-storey portables with lifts are now being used.

The government has announced plans for 42 new schools over the next five years, but that won’t be enough.The Grattan Institute has estimated that up to 220 new schools will be needed over the next decade in Victoria.

Indeed, in February 2016, Peter Goss, School Education Program Director at the Grattan Institute, penned an excellent article in The Conversation assessing the upcoming shortage of schools across Australia’s capital cities as the nation’s population balloons. This article estimated that NSW (mostly Sydney) would need an additional 213 schools to cope with an additional 14% of students over the next decade, whereas Victoria (mostly Melbourne) would require an additional 220 schools to cope with an additional 19% of students (see below graphic).

ScreenHunter_11161 Jan. 22 08.29

Of course, the problems associated with mass immigration are not just restricted to schools, traffic congestion and commute times are also worsening at an alarming pace. The Victorian Government’s Suburban Development Minister, Lily D’Ambrosio, on Wednesday admitted the traffic situation in Melbourne is “sad” but failed to confront the underlying cause. From the Herald-Sun:

Ms D’Ambrosio said that she often heard from families in her northern city fringe seat of Mill Park complaining about long commute times on buses and trains.

“(They say) ‘By the time I get home I’m probably lucky if I actually get to see my young kids awake before they go to bed, let alone have the opportunity to read to them,’” she told a recent Urban Development Institute of Australia state event.

“That’s pretty sad. That’s a real tangible example of the experiences that people are having,” she said…

[But] D’Ambrosio… ruled out “simplistic” plans like “shifting populations from one part of Victoria to another”…

Fairfax’s John Gordon yesterday also lamented the traffic chaos facing Melbourne caused by rampant population growth. From The SMH:

Melbourne is growing at an unsustainable pace. As it is, one-third of car trips happen on congested roads during the morning peak. The bad news is that it’s only going to get worse.

According to Infrastructure Victoria, in coming decades the city is going to become so clogged that the average speed during the morning peak will drop to just 31km/h. And that’s even after factoring in billions of dollars worth of planned road and rail upgrades.

Already, it takes about an hour to drive from Epping to the city. In 20 years, add an extra 45 minutes, which is equivalent to more than a working day spent in the car fighting traffic each week.

The costs of this will be huge. There will be obvious imposts, such as lost productivity and leisure time, but also less tangible impacts, such as added pyschological stress.

And then there’s the public transport system being overrun. From The Age yesterday:

The Geelong railway line will need an overhaul within five years, or it will decline into a slow, overcrowded service with more and more passengers standing in the aisles over long journeys, an expert analysis warns…

Demand for trains between the CBD and Wyndham is growing so fast that patronage on the Geelong line jumped 57 per cent in the link’s first year, an extra 2.4 million journeys, all because of two new outer suburban stations at Tarneit and Wyndham Vale.

Less than two years old, the Regional Rail Link “has already become a victim of its own success” and will soon be overwhelmed, the Rail Futures Institute predicts.

Of course, I could add the problems of housing affordability or environmental degradation, which are all being made worse by the mass immigration program being run by the federal government.

The fact is that living standards in Australia’s major cities will continue to erode under current immigration settings.

Remember that under official state government population projections, Sydney’s population is projected to grow by 87,000 people per year (1,650 people each week) to 6.4 million over the next 20-years – effectively adding another Perth to the city’s population:

ScreenHunter_15562 Oct. 18 15.29

Whereas Melbourne’s population is projected to balloon by 97,000 people per year (1,850 people each week) over the next 35 years to more than 8 million people:

ScreenHunter_15632 Oct. 23 12.16

None of this is rocket science. The Coalition’s property price fixation, as well as the Labor/Greens alliance on “social justice” is destroying our future living standards.

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  1. A bit unfair on the coalition there with house price fixation. I hate the bastards, but the other mob has been just as bad (up until last election campaign). I remember who is responsible for the last FHB bribe just as prices had begun falling, and the AOFM bailout of securitisations!

      • I remember Tanya Plibersek, as minister for housing I think, announcing the doubling of the first hone buyers grant and how it would help affordability.

      • Yes. This was a few short months after she and Rudd have a doorstop interview saying this kind of policy would only increase house prices. Conniving witch.

      • Rudd, kept them open, I agree, by averting the 2008 crash with his cash splash – but it was little Johnny Rotten who first introduced the FHB grant and lowered capital gains tax on housing. Johnny Americanised us, Rudd just kept up the charade in aid of his wife’s property portfolio.

    • True, as both parties have been party to the great globalisation/neoliberal screw your country over play. The persecution of the boat people was simply a cover to hide the fact that anyone with a pulse and an airline ticket could enter the country. The objective being to drive down wages and living standards.

  2. Tom Elliott’s back on it today.

    About time someone mentioned the GDP/Capita nugget.
    ‘Strong economic growth is often touted as a justification for large numbers of immigrants. And, broadly speaking, it is true that the more people who live and work in a country, the faster its gross domestic product will rise.

    But the total size of our economy doesn’t tell the full story. What’s more important is GDP per person — and on this measure Australia has underperformed. Although we haven’t suffered a technical recession in 25 years, since 2008 growth per capita has been static at best.

    That explains why so many lower-paid workers feel their living standards have recently suffered.’

    ‘We can either increase — or reduce — the number of visas we allocate to foreigners at the stroke of a pen.’

  3. and what do they charge children of 457 visa holders to attend??

    up here in qld they get charged nada zilch

    massive strain…unfair to the poor

    • The Brisbane school I send my kids to has an incredible statistic that 48% count English as their first language. Read from this that the majority are either new arrivals or first generation settlers. And the school is overflowing … and surprise, surprise, the school is asking parents to contribute to make up a funding shortfall.

      I suggested that our taxes, often paid over a period of 20 years, should have this covered, right? Answer … No.

      Then I suggested that those contributing to the funding crunch, and haven’t paid taxes over a generation should be asked first. Answer … No (and very inappropriate)

      Then I gave an example of when we lived overseas, all foreigners had to pay for their schooling (very high, too), whereas the locals received it for free. Response … that is not Australia.

      • what school JC?

        tell them get knicked coughing up money and they can get the money from more obvious measures

      • In fact if you could do it, home schooling is by far the best education until high school. a couple of hours per day puts a child way ahead. Even less and only 3 or 4 days a week.and the rest of time spent profitably. I have done it.

      • tell them get knicked coughing up money and they can get the money from more obvious measures

        What could be more obvious than asking their pupils’ parents for a donation? Private schools, whose parents have already contributed twice – first via taxes, then via fees – aren’t embarrassed to ask for extra donations to building funds etc. Why shouldn’t public schools have a crack?

      • In many of the inner city schools (usually those closest to public housing blocks) the schools are 70-80% ESOL students. Non-immigrant parents are being “forced” to transport their kids miles away to schools in other neighbourhoods, adding to the traffic congestion. The irony is that in speaking with one recent Asian immigrant, he told me he was sending his kids to private school in Melbourne as the local schools were all full of Asian kids, and he moved here so his kids could be “Australian”.

    • Just read it. Excellent piece, pointing out nearly everything that is discussed here at MB. That man (given his views and connections) is electable.

    • It sure does. I’m still amazed such a died in the wool Liberal, in a prime radio slot can freely make such suggestions. Good on him, he’s obviously jack of sitting in traffic and being ripped off at every turn.

  4. Hi Leith, you missed one more – the recent regional rail link expansion is nearing capacity to Geelong.

    “Less than two years old, the Regional Rail Link “has already become a victim of its own success” and will soon be overwhelmed, the Rail Futures Institute predicts.

    There are already 17 trains an hour in the peak, and the link was built to handle just 18 trains an hour.”

    • GunnamattaMEMBER

      The Geelong train is a joke. From the parking at Waurn Ponds or South or North Geelong to the crush and the masses boarding at Tarneit or Wyndham Vale.

      They need to run a line back to Lara to the west of the ring road (making it a Geelong loop) put stations on it and electrify the lot and probably build another branch to Torquay.

      • It surprised me how busy it is. I was catching the train from Sunshine down to Geelong late on a Saturday morning a few weeks and could barely get a seat! It did thin out a bit after Tarneit. Would hate to see what it was like during peak hours.

  5. Did you see the migrant couple with one young child in the ABC news. The story was about becoming perpetual renters while being ‘middle class’

    Let me say if things go poorly like hubby looses his job or even a cut to hours, people in such circumstances will be on the next plane home.

    And there are possibly HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS in a similar category in my opinion.

  6. I had an interesting experience yesterday.

    I was removing a trailer load of rubbish from the house of an old couple in Turramurra. As is often the case, older people are very friendly and unstressed and have spare time and like to chat.
    “We are downsizing and this rubbish has built up since 1958”
    ‘it’s not that much rubbish, where are you moving to’
    “Near Port Stevens”
    ‘Nice, I might move there myself in a few years, I’ve thought about it’
    “Oh yes, it is A.. and B.. and our daughter lives nearby and the price of housing is much lower. Most houses sell for around $400k whereas around here they are just crazy”
    ‘2, 3 or 4 million next week’
    “And it not just the prices IT IS THE RENTS, the rents around here are $1000 to $2000 per week. How do people get that kind of money?”
    ‘You have to be doing a rort job’
    “and renters can’t do anything, if they complain about something they are evicted or the rent goes up. One of our neighbours complained about mould which was a danger to their children. The landlord did fix it, but soon after .. rent increase.”

    Note: I did not raise the subjects of prices or rents at all.

    Turns out the man built the house himself using the labour of skilled friends at mates rates. It is a smallish 3-bedder, still in excellent condition, with no visible cracks inside or out. It is going to be demolished by the new owner.

    Points to take away:
    * Older decent Australians are concerned about house prices.
    * Ordinary people are alarmed about the high rents in Sydney.
    * Ordinary home owners are not all smug pricks and some do care about the situation of non-owners.
    * Ponzi-packing people in Sydney is resulting in high prices, high rents and in terrible waste as decent houses are unnecessarily demolished.

    • No! All landlords(homeowners) are pricks as per the usual MB commentariat rhetoric ! No more decent people around!

    • Had another anecdote from Turramurra yesterday.
      Of a long standing resident who was putting a major gate & wall (perhaps inspired by trump .. or the castle) to stop real-estate “tourists” from wondering into his place and trying to buy him out…..

  7. GunnamattaMEMBER

    I work on the Bellarine (near Geelong) and live in Geelong and recently had one of my chiefs down from Sydney. He is trying to get me to do something more substantial in Melbourne Sydney or Canberra. He floated the idea past me while he was down.

    The day afterward he needed to be in Melbourne. I volunteered to drive him up (Bourke st) from Geelong. Leaving at 0700 it took us more than 2 hours door to door. Two days later he needed to do so again so we tried the train – 2 hours of standing amidst the crush at a station, on train, and walking in Melbourne.

    After second day he agreed with me that there was not one iota of point in me moving to Melbourne or Sydney ( or Canberra) in that i have a short drive to work, can start at 0700 and finish at circa 1600 enabling me to be home in time to drive kids to sport etc. Thats on top of not paying for parking (or train tiicket) and not having to wear suit to meet ‘stakeholders’.

    He noted this was becoming a problem across the board – he is having trouble getting people who he knows can do gigs to go where he wants them, and is now looking at moving parts of gigs to the people because even he can see it makes no sense to bring those people to the urbs.

    This sort of thing will happen more, but will also drive uptake of automation where possible.

  8. It is in my view much more likely that the sidewalks become clogged with the homeless long before the above mentioned measures of dysfunction are achieved.

  9. DarkMatterMEMBER

    Back in the 70’s and 80’s Medical Students (at least in Qld) used to take scholarships or bonds that required them to do a few years in the bush after graduating. It didn’t kill them.

    Why can’t we have immigration programs that require the immigrant to spend 5 years in rural towns before clogging up the cities? They would need to come prepared to find a way to support themselves, which might be a boost to regional Australia, which at the moment is stagnating.

    I know that clogging up the cities is actually the current goal, but regional Australia needs some sort of stimulus. Given that constraint we might find that nobody wants to come here if they can’t live in Sydney/Melbourne.

  10. I don’t get it.
    The whole Australian economy depends on the ongoing expansion of Sydney and Melbourne, our value as a country requires this expansion….yet you oppose it….what gives?
    Imagine an Australia where the “value” of Sydney and Melbourne was not increasing. Many citizens have leveraged their lives on this on-going expansion of Sydney with a simultaneous contraction of the rest of NSW. Look no further than where Australia’s GDP (and more importantly our GNI) is being realized. Look at regional centers like Orange, the local economy there is a basket case, if you ever closed the Centerlink office than you’d have to close down the whole town. However the real economic Value of creating dependent regional towns is always realized in Sydney.
    It’d be interesting to see a graph of Sydney’s GNI and compare that with regional Australia’s GNI especially over the last 5 years. IMHO this growing wealth/income is what’s really supporting Sydney housing.
    In NSW they recently sold off Newcastle Harbour, yet despite Newcastle having at least 10 worthy projects that could have absorbed the capital it’s all headed south to support better roads / rail / schools ….etc etc in Sydney. In the corporate world we have a name for this process, it’s called Asset Striping, in the end you have a once great company that’s left as just a shell of its former self all the assets and all the real value is gone. This is precisely what’s happening in NSW and the beneficiary is Sydney. People see this with their own eyes and invest accordingly, naturally they invest in Sydney.
    I guess this process ends when there is nothing left to sell but Sydney itself….based on Chinese interest in Sydney RE I’d say it looks like were not far from that point.

    • Maybe a byproduct of democracy itself? The more people who are in the cities, the more votes, the more votes to buy. The whole world is urbanising. Democracies may just go through this phase where the pollies are all centralised and sucking wealth into the city. Then you get someone like Trump who tells the regions “I will stick it to the cities”

    • “The whole Australian economy depends on the ongoing expansion of Sydney and Melbourne”

      Absolutely CB!!!

      The new immigrants have bought or rented housing haven’t they? Well – Mission accomplished!
      Any issues down the line are someone else’s problem.

  11. Federal Labor is completely silent on population growth. They are a joke. Turnbull again lying on Sky News last night saying more supply was the answer to the housing affordability issue. Not a word about reducing demand by cutting immigration or addressing the issue of empty housing. While spouting this crap, Ticky Fullerton just sits there accepting it, not a word about cutting demand.

    • Ticky’s a lovely lass but totally over-rated in matters of financial and economic literacy.

      Not that she’s alone, mind you …

  12. I don’t get the shock that we need to build schools – until Kennett came along, building schools was a normal thing that state governments did.
    And 200 schools in a decade for NSW or Vic shouldn’t be a challenge – beginning with a much lower population, NSW, for example, opened about 300 schools during the 1960s.

    EDIT: In 1961 alone, the NSW government opened about around 55 schools. For today’s Victorian government to only be planning to open 42 schools in FIVE years supported by a larger number of taxpayers is truly pathetic.

    • Also interesting to note that the ABS Series B projection, which assumes annual NOM around 60k greater than we are currently experiencing projects that 2022 (not far away) will be the highest year for growth in the number of school aged people (taken as aged 5-18) in Victoria at around 21k, and then growth is expected to decline to below 10k per annum by 2031.

  13. From the WA boy…
    Shouldn’t stamp duty, gambling taxes and GST share equal lots of schools?
    Enjoy the Ponzi. You reap what you sow.