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April 2010



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A simple man’s guide to the major parties’ population policies

I am just a simple man. So I have some simple ideas about the population policies of the three major parties, Labor, the Liberals and the Greens. Let me if I may share them with you.

Half of Australia’s population growth comes from immigration. So any debate about population is also about immigration.

Leaving aside 33,000 immigrants from New Zealand who are not counted in the figures, only 30,000 immigrants last year came from predominantly ‘white’ regions out of 158,000 arrivals.  So any debate about immigration is necessarily about race too.

For that reason the comment of Greens’ leader Bob Brown that Australia could not support 35.9 million people by 2050 is in reality a call to cut immigration, including the skilled intake and is of necessity about keeping non-whites out of the country. 

One explanation for this could be that Brown is following Nick McKim’s lead in Tasmania and shifting to the Centre to gain more support for the Greens nationally. After all it seemingly worked in Tasmania where the vote for the Greens at the election there a few weeks ago was over 21 percent.

Another explanation could be that Greens’ environmentalism is based on the view that humans are a parasite that needs to be controlled or some softer version of this anti-human view and so keeping immigrants out of Australia is the logical result of their philosophy. 

There is no proof for this, but there is a big audience out there for the nonsensical idea that Australia is full, and Brown is appealing directly to it. He may be marrying his Malthusian madness with political expediency to attack immigrants in the hope he can attract right winger, including right wing environmentalists back, or to, the Greens.

This is the racism that dare not speak its name. It is the racism of fact if not of intention.

The Liberals went down in the polls the other day quite a bit. So they reached for the old favourite – refugee bashing and tacked that on to the back of the immigration debate.

Suddenly they didn’t want so many immigrants and would… yes, well what would they do? They  zigged and zagged in response to the business fury directed at them for suggesting they would cut immigration.

Now they don’t have a policy, just one they are working on for release before the election. Reaction that can’t make up its mind. That should win them lots of votes.

Of course Abbott has shown himself prepared in the past to adopt what he thinks are populist measures (like taxing big business to pay for a maternity leave scheme) so attacking immigration in the face of business opposition isn’t necessarily a fatal political error, especially if Abbott can steer the debate to boat people. 

That would be perfect for the Liberals. They could huff and puff about a few thousand ‘foreigners’, act tough, win redneck votes and not have to do anything to cut immigration (and so keep the bosses happy).

So their real aim in this debate will be to shift the focus to boat people.

At first Labor welcomed the Intergenerational Report which predicted a population of 35.9 million by 2050. Then they began to get worried as the Greens and Liberals positioned themselves in opposition to this.

This re-positioning seems to have resonated with many Australians for reasons ranging from racism to misguided concerns about the environment. As I have argued elsewhere on this site it is the way we organise production for profit that is the problem, not people. 

Labor appointed a Minister for Population as a response to the backlash against Rudd’s support for a big Australia. (Let’s get  handle on this. 36 million in a country the size of Australia is big? What laughable rubbish). 

The Minister’s task is to appeal to the racists and big business on population policy in a way that is less crude than the Liberals.  for a start Rudd won’t be professing support for a big Australia any more.

And Labor will still bash boat people but pretend to be humane about it. (By the way a survey mentioned by a  colleague shows that 25% of Green voters believe Rudd is soft on asylum seekers.)

Labor have dirty hands in this debate too. They have already cut skilled immigration numbers by 20 percent since March last year. They just don’t brag about it or proclaim they will cut more.

Given the resurgence of the Australian economy the need of capital is for more skilled immigrants not less. 

I suspect Burke will find a way of squaring the circle and producing a policy that appeals to different constituencies.

My money is on some sort of regional growth strategy. More people in regional centres where public transport, health and education re already grossly underfunded. That should really solve our infrastructure problems.

It is no accident the Nazis have organised a rally against immigrants in Melbourne on the back of the support of the major parties for attacks on immigration. The fascists see an opportunity to spread their filth and grow under the cover of respectability provided by the anti-immigration positioning of the three major parties.

I have a novel suggestion. Instead of attacking immigrants and asylum seekers, why not tax big business and squeeze their profits to pay for decent public transport, decent public housing, decent hospitals and decent schools and universities? After all business benefits most from a fit, educated and well supported population.



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Comment from Helen Said
Time April 9, 2010 at 7:59 am

Where is Bob’s proof that Australia can’t support 35.9 million people, especially if we adopt the sustainable lifestyles most greens support? Proof should be his starting point, rather than joining an electorally expedient knee jerk reaction to a big-sounding number. However globally population does impact on our planet. We shouldn’t sidestep global concerns, but these concerns won’t be addressed by locking up Australia’s borders. Beware population discussions led by the “truth overboard” party that told Australian couples “have one baby for mum, one for dad and one for your country.”

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Comment from cna training
Time April 12, 2010 at 1:23 pm

Great information! I’ve been looking for something like this for a while now. Thanks!

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