Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Malcolm King’s Fortress Australia Article

Malcolm King’s article, Fortress Australia: green wasting the future, in the Sydney Morning Herald makes numerous claims which are far removed from reality.
Claim: “Australia has a low population but the western suburbs of its two largest cities are growing under the load of poor infrastructure and a total lack of urban planning”.

Reality: Growth boosters always claim the problems could be solved by better infrastructure and better planning. If it is capable of being solved, how come it never is? Why can no government of whatever political party, in any fast growing city, get infrastructure or planning right? The reason, pointed out brilliantly by Queensland academic Jane O’Sullivan in her work on the costs of infrastructure in a growing population, is that population growth of 2% sound innocent enough but in fact it doubles the infrastructure task of any government or council.

Claim: “The real story is that the environmental movement is under attack by the anti-populationist and anti-immigration forces who are “green washing” their anti-immigration policies to make them more palatable to the electorate”.

Reality: I got interested in Australian birds, plants and animals when I was just 10 years old. I got interested in conservation and environment issues when I was a teenager, and interested in politics as a result. I first talked about climate change in the mid-1990s, and when I was Shadow Environment Minister between 2001-2004 I successfully proposed that Labor adopt the Kyoto Protocol, increase the Renewable Energy Target, introduce an emissions trading scheme to put a price on carbon, and return water to the ailing Murray-Darling Basin.  And I have found similar priorities among the people I have met at Sustainable Population Australia. It is precisely their concern at the impacts of habitat destruction and climate change on our birds and plants and animals that cause them to believe that we should try to stabilise our population. Claims of ‘greenwashing’ are pathetic and laughable.

Claim: A stable population “would have radical implications for Australian society and capitalism”.

Reality: In fact it would have positive implications for society and capitalism. The wealthiest GDP per capita countries in the world are not those with large and rapidly growing populations, they are those with small and slowly growing populations, such as Scandinavia and northern Europe.

Claim: “Advocates of population stabilisation want a one in/one out immigration system, stop building houses for first home buyers and stop Kiwis arriving.

Reality: None of these claims is true of me. I propose net immigration of 70,000 each year (not net zero), and a cap on New Zealanders arriving which would still allow for a similar number to that we have seen since the Trans-Tasman Agreement was introduced. As for first home buyers, I am the one blowing the whistle on the way rising house prices are denying first home buyers the chance to enter the market. I support first home buyers and oppose rising house prices driven by population growth.

Claim: That the reason it takes an hour to get to work is not growing population, but because every single person drives a car.

Reality: Mr King accuses Sustainable Population Australia of having a social engineering agenda, yet he apparently wants everyone to stop driving their cars! Just how does he plan to accomplish that? Either utterly naive, or utterly insincere.

Claim: “Over the next 30 years almost 6 million baby boomers will pass on….The population of much of eastern Europe and Japan is falling”.

Reality: Australia’s population is growing faster than ever before. When I went to school and learned about population Australian was 14 million. Now we are 23 million. Treasury projections are that we will hit 36 million by 2050, and keep rising. Same for the global population, which hit 7 billion in 2011, having trebled in a little over a century, and is tracking for 9 to 10 billion by mid-century. I used to believe those demographers who claimed that population would take care of itself. But their predictions are always wrong – the population always grows by more than they predict – so I have stopped listening to them.

Claim: The solution to the traffic jam on Punt Road is to ride a push bike.

Reality: Melbourne is on track to go from 2 million cars now to over 3 million cars by 2036. If you think the Punt Road traffic is bad now, wait till Mr King’s vision for Melbourne arrives!

Conclusion: Mr King’s claims are so far divorced from reality that one wonders why he makes them. He describes himself as director of a PR Business. It is time he disclosed his clients, which may help us understand the answer to that intriguing question.


  1. Kelvin... Keep up the good fight. How come you seem to be the only politician (of any persuasion) that truly understands the inevitable catastrophe contained within the mathematics of unlimited growth? What access to other planets do all those others have? Please, please become Prime Minister!!!
    Kevin Murray... Unfortunately not in your electorate...

  2. What load of non-sense from Mr King. Great rebut Kelvin.The only way someone can make these sort of statement is that he is in the pocket of developers and business. No one in its right senses can say these sorts of things with a straight face. We're growing at developing country rate. Fast population growth can only mean one thing: environmental damage declining quality of life: urban sprawl, lack of transport, poor liveability and even worse health outcomes. As usual, great job Kelvin.

  3. An excellent post rebutting an extraordinarily silly article.

  4. I wonder at what point does somebody like King think we will have reached our ideal population. Even for him, there must be a limit somewhere. But what will we do once we've reached that? Do we suddenly, somehow, stop growing?
    What then, because by his logic, it's the growth itself we need.

    Each day I watch the growing number of cars, and my once beautiful city disappearing under ugly concrete towers. Schools and hospitals struggling to maintain services.

    Tell me again, Mr King, where are the good bits?

  5. Kelvin, everything you say is true and persuasive. The growth-boosters' reliance on immigration and increased consumption to prop up our economic disequilibrium leads us into ever more destructive instability. Australia does not need increased population but unfortunately I'm not sure that we can avoid it by isolating our hideaway from the rest of the world.

    Like you I was slightly reassured by the demographers' rebuttal to Paul Erlich, The Club of Rome and Brundtland Reports, that release from poverty in populous countries would bring about lower birthrates. It is happening, but unevenly and far too slow for our common good. For those who migrate to Australia however the transition occurs within a couple of generations and, to the extent that immigrants stay in touch with their families at home, the demonstration effect of prosperity may be helping to reduce global birthrates more than we realise. From a moral viewpoint your suggested immigration level of 70,000 should be, rather than skilled workers, all refugees whose source countries are often most in need of population relief and low birthrate encouragement.

    I think that sadly, it is in our long term cultural and strategic interest to accept some overpopulation of Australia now as a moral concesiion to the much greater overpopulation of the world. Winding back the global population to more closely approach sustainability will be painful and slow. It is too late to avoid that pain.

    1. australie would be better to set a good example of population control and concern for the environment by stopping migration except for business migration if needed! refugees could be better helped by some financial and other assistance inj a country nearest to their own that is safe! foreign aid should be in advice and help in educating and skilling them to make better lives in their own communities. we can't bring everyone to aus. though we know they would all like to be here. people always try to go to better off countries and need to be helped to make their own countries more livable!

  6. Kelvin you've nailed it again. Well done. Pity we don't agree on a zero immigration, particularly refugees. I'm equally as worried about the disappearance of 'Australians'. i regret what we did to our Aborigines and don't want that to happen to the 'real' Australia. Don't believe in Multi crap.

  7. The current high immigration/high population agenda is social engineering without mandate, without permission and without reference to the feelings, preferences needs, even safety of the present population. Opposition to the population growth agenda is hardly social engineering but a sincere warning about future sustainability on the driest inhabited continent facing depletion of the resources that we now rely on.

  8. Succinctly said. I think Italy has it right too. No suburban sprawl - no growth, growth growth. Cities the same as they were a hundred - a 1000 years ago. The whole world loves the place.

  9. Mr Malcolm King's comments when subject to a bit of objective analysis fail the credibility test. The understanding one can take away from this latest set of "declarations" by yet another apparent proponent of endless population growth is that the argument for this endless growth draws upon simplistic and vague assumptions that are somewhat removed from historical and contemporary reality. Not the sort of thing any reasonable person would rely on to secure their children and grandchildren's future. Yet it appears Mr Malcolm King and his cohorts believe that the general public will blithely accept such statements without question. Perhaps they do, which if so is matter of considerable national concern. The final insight gained from Malcolm Kings article is the somewhat disconcerting realization that the standard of journalism in this country is of such a low level that an article that appears devoid of any factual content and has more in common with some sort of socialist Utopian world view is actually published.

  10. Thanks for that - you argue my case better than I can and with more clout. I agree that it would be interesting to know who Mr King's clients are.

  11. It says something that the Sydney Morning Herald opts to publish King's hogwash. I think I'll nominate his article for the wall of shame on:

    1. Excellent suggestion. Had a look and it appears to be a US website. Perhaps we need similar here. But one that runs an objective critical analysis, based on credibility testing and factual analysis. Given that most if not all pro-population growth media articles rely on misrepresentation and denial of the facts, it should not be to hard to debunk them as either vehicles for profiteering vested interests or coming from a rusted on distorted and fantasy like political or religious (or both) world view.

  12. I agree with everything Kelvin has written here...... except that NOBODY will be driving cars by 2036! In fact, it's highly likely nobody will be driving cars before 2025......

    Australia will be totally out of oil some time around 2020, and the countries that currently sell us oil will be reluctant to continue doing this by then themselves as THEIR domestic consumption overtakes their production. Which is exactly what happened to Egypt which is now a nett oil importer. And just look where overpopulation got that nation......


  13. Why "Fortress Australia"? The majority of our skilled migrants come from Asia now- India and China. These two nations, plus others, aren't being called fortresses. It's almost impossible for someone with Australian citizenship, only, to gain permanent residential status in these countries. One must have business links, be married to a national, or have ethnic connections to the country. Why is it assumed that Australia must be international territory, with open borders? Our land is big, but we have thin soils, irregular rainfall, heat, plus floods and fires. Our cities are already overburdened by population growth. We need industries, production, high educational and skills training, not more people. King is trying to twist the ideology of SPA to be "anti" people, or supporters of forced sterilization. Nothing could be further from the truth. We have a right to decide our own population size, according to environmental and social carrying capacity.

  14. i totally agree with vivkay. couldn't have said it better!