Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Australia’s Rapid Population Growth Disastrous for Cities

New projections released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics have revised upwards the growth estimates that triggered the Big Australia debate in 2009 and 2010.

At that time it was estimated that Australia was heading for 35 or 36 million by 2050. Now according to the ABS central projection we are tracking for 37.5 million by 2050, and possibly 70 million by 2100.

This growth will be overwhelmingly in Melbourne, Sydney, Perth and Brisbane. Melbourne is set to double by 2060, to 8.5 million, and Perth and Brisbane are also set to double. Sydney will increase by 80%.

This increase will be disastrous for these cities. It will drive traffic congestion and gridlock, high rise and the loss of public open space, a widening gap between rich and poor and social inequality. It will fuel housing unaffordability and job insecurity for our young people.

It makes a farce of the view that population growth in Australia is about populating our regional and remote areas – 14 million of the extra 18 million people projected for 2060 will move into just 4 cities.

The latest upward lift is a consequence of net overseas migration rising yet again. The Bureau of Statistics is now using a net annual migration figure of 240,000 per year, more than double the numbers just 10 years ago. Migration is now the source of 2/3 of our population growth.

To challenge the view that rapid population growth is a good thing, I am setting up a non-government organisation called Victoria First. Its first meeting will be:

·         Sunday, December 1st;

·         10am-12 noon; and

·         Flemington Community Centre, 25 Mt Alexander Rd, Flemington.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Melbourne Planning Debacle

A report released by the Federal Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics underlines just how inadequate and incompetent Melbourne’s recent planning has been.

The report analysed population growth, jobs growth and commuter flows in Australia’s four largest cities. It found:

1)    Melbourne was the only city in which jobs growth in the outer suburbs had failed to keep pace with the population boom. Parts of outer Melbourne now have less than one job for every three working people, forcing residents to commute further for employment.

2)    Eighty-four per cent of outer Melbournians drive to work, the highest level among Australia’s biggest cities, and just 9% use public transport.

Monash University Professor of Public Transport Graham Currie said any city growing in population without expanding public transport was planning for decline. He said “the future cupboard of public transport projects is looking bare” and that “If population grows by 25% but services remain essentially static, we have a per capita decline of 25 per cent in service levels. We are not responding to growth. Rather we are going backwards”.

This report reveals as a fraud the idea that Melbourne’s rapid population growth is okay. Jobs are far removed from homes, and workers are not using public transport, leading to traffic congestion, long commutes, and reduced quality of life for everybody – a planning debacle.
It’s all very well to say that what is needed is better planning, but expanding the urban growth boundary and high rise and urban consolidation have both given us the outcomes we have today. The better planning never happens, and it won’t as long as Melbourne’s population continues to grow by 200 a day, 1500 a week, 75,000 each year.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Mistreatment of Australian Bulls in Mauritius

Graphic footage of Australian bulls being mistreated in Mauritius requires a tough response from the Australian Government.

The Department of Agriculture must either cancel or suspend the export licences of the exporter involved. Only real penalties, not Mickey Mouse ones, will act as a deterrent against these practices. It has the power to take the export license off this exporter and it should use it.

Minister for Agriculture, Joyce, has said “no one supports animal cruelty but investigations aren’t about shutting down the trade, they’re about policing it – the way an officer polices the roads”. Officers police the roads by taking dangerous drivers off them. That is what should happen here.

The Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, says, “The existing system is designed to ensure that animals are not mistreated”. It clearly isn’t achieving that objective – so real action is needed.

The live export industry has no business talking about a return to self-regulation in the light of this revelation, along with the recent case of Jordan, where 10,000 Australian sheep exported to Jordan "leaked" from approved supply chains, and were sold in unofficial markets.

The live export trade is not only a failure of ethics but a failure of economics. We should move towards a viable alternative – a local chilled meat export industry that protects and creates more Australian rural jobs, results in higher profitability through value added opportunities, and delivers decent and humane animal welfare.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Hockey’s Tax Changes a Nudge and a Wink to the Wealthy

Yesterday’s tax changes were a shameless nod to those who can afford to pay a bit more that under a Liberal Government their interests will be served at the expense of those who can least afford it.

Treasurer Hockey confirmed that 16,000 high income earners will get tax breaks, while 2.7 million small businesses and 3.6 million low income earners will lose tax breaks and be hit with higher taxes.

Small businesses are missing out on the Labor intiative of an instant asset write-off, while 110,000 small businesses will miss out on a lower threshold for the loss carry back provisions.

The Liberal Government has scrapped Labor’s 15 per cent concessional tax rate on earnings above $100,000 in superannuation income streams, that is, super balances over $2 million. This comes on the back of their decision to scrap the Low Income Super Contribution and reimpose a 15% superannuation tax on low income and part-time workers, with shop assistants, waiters, bartenders and cleaners being hardest hit – 60 per cent of these are women. Women are already retiring with less in their super accounts because of the disparity in their pay compared to men.

The Liberal Government has also watered down Labor’s efforts to get multinationals to pay their fair share of tax. For example, Google paid only $74,176 in tax in Australia 2011, despite estimated revenues of $1 billion. Labor’s rules were designed to stop profits being shipped overseas. The Treasurer’s amendments help multinationals and will mean $700 million less in tax revenue.

These changes unambiguously demonstrate the priorities of this Government. Multinational companies and high income earners get tax breaks, while small businesses and low and middle income earners miss out.

So much too for the much touted ‘budget emergency’ the Liberal Party spoke about prior to the election! The changes announced have given up $3 billion over the forward estimates. When it comes to tax breaks for big business, it seems there is plenty of money to splash around.