MR: Rudd plays into hands of development lobby
By agreeing to be keynote speaker at the National Conference of the Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA) tomorrow, Kevin Rudd is playing into the hands of the development lobby, according to Sustainable Population Australia Inc (SPA). Rudd will be speaking on ‘Population Growth for a Stronger Economy’ at the UDIA conference in Melbourne.
SPA National President Sandra Kanck says the development lobby has a vested interest in population growth since it reaps the profits without paying any of the costs.
“The costs of population growth are paid by ordinary people in terms of increased congestion and pollution, unaffordable housing, lower wages and higher power bills,” says Ms Kanck. “You would think that a Labor politician would be sticking up for ordinary people and not wealthy developers.”
Ms Kanck says if Mr Rudd is still using GDP as a measure of well-being, then he should distinguish between total GDP and per capita GDP which is more meaningful.
“While more people generally do add to total GDP, there is no significant correlation between population increase and per capita GDP. In fact the Productivity Commission has found that with higher population growth any addition to GDP per capita for existing Australians is so marginal as to be meaningless.
“When the real the costs of congestion, biodiversity loss, housing rental shortages and so on, are taken into account, existing Australians are much worse off with population growth.”
Ms Kanck says that infrastructure (houses, schools, roads, hospitals etc) should be in place before more people arrive, be it through natural increase or immigration. “If it does not, then people suffer, not least in excessive commuting time with all the concomitant flow-on effects on family life, just as we see in Western Sydney right now.
“Given the unaffordable infrastructure backlog we now have, a drastic reduction in immigration is needed to allow us to catch up. The construction industry argues that it needs population growth, but the backlog shows that it’s finance that limits construction.
Ms Kanck queried how Mr Rudd would find jobs for all the new people. “Immigration Minister, Brendan O’Connor, is right to tighten controls on 457 visas so that Australians have a chance to apply for jobs,” she said.
Professor Bob Birrell and Ernest Healy of Monash University found recently that the number of jobs created in the previous two years was about equal to the number of new immigrants who found work. “In other words, there were no extra jobs for existing Australians – including immigrants who came prior to 2011 – even though the local workforce had grown in that time.
“The Monash study also found that the new immigrants had lower workforce participation and lower standards of jobs than the population at large, so they are not adding to Australia’s productivity.
Ms Kanck added that Mr Rudd needed to take into account the deleterious environmental effects of more people. “Mr Rudd should keep in mind that we have just had the hottest summer on record. Does he not understand that more people means more emissions means more extreme events from climate change?”
Further information: Sandra Kanck ph 08 8336 4114 till 4.30 pm, then 0417882143