overpopulation in australia

Australia’s Population



rate boom (2) prosperity
cope endgame guarantee (2)
Aussie crush (2) congestion
mantra bustling outline (2)
cut (2) announce squeeze (2)
goal (2) ridiculous infrastructure
surge sensible critical mass
exceed stuff (2) receipt (2)
predict estimate electorally
crap (2) battle (2) ahead of schedule
fuel (2) daycare crippling (2)
afford crowded sweet point
tunnel high-rise knock down
lack minimal alternative
bother wing (2) mirage (2)
debate issue (2) infrastructure
cap (2) jammed all persuasions
prompt average article of faith
staff (2) level off reverse (2)
shrink record (3) stagnation
borrow target (2) unpalatable (2)
urban dream (2) magnificent
reliable figure (3) epicenter (2)
depend based on proportion
fade dream (2) undoubtedly
influx faith (2) project (3)
roll in dedicated Achilles heel (2)
regret brilliant in no time flat
herd full time look back on
design suburbs desperation
literally blend (2) straight away
shake disgusted conjecture
local bush (2) exhaustion
trend round up downwards
aim (2) overseas three-quarters
initially period (3) channel (3)
scared location after a while
density drain (2) pipeline (2)
elusive illustrate backwards (2)
extra represent nest egg (2)
beat (3)






Currently, our country is growing at more than twice the rate of America, the United Kingdom — and would you believe, China.

Most politicians and economists say big is not only beautiful, but essential, that a booming population, fueled by immigration, will guarantee our future prosperity.

But it’s an argument that’s hard to cope for many everyday Aussies, crushed by endless development, congestion and overcrowding.


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The existing railway network barely copes with all the passenger demand. So these new tunnels fit into the new congestion, busting mantra of the Morrison Government, who this week announced cuts on immigration, to ease the squeeze on our biggest cities.

Dick Smith: “We’ve stuffed them. Ask someone who is sitting in a traffic jam’ I just think this is ridiculous. And our politicians and all they say is we just need more infrastructure.


Journalist: “De you need a lot of people to have a good city?”
Shane Goshan. “Yes. The greatest cities in the world have to have at least six, seven, eight million people.”
Journalist: “So you think the critical mass for Sydney, you think is about double what it is now?

Shane Goshen: “It would not be terrible if Sydney was double five million.

Ten million people living in Sydney alone. Don’t laugh: it may happen sooner than you think. And the same goes for Melbourne.

Our surging population has been fueled by record immigration levels, which has meant that Australia is growing by four-hundred thousand (400,000) people a year.

If you walk around one of our big cities and feel that it’s more crowded than ever before, well, you’d be right. These streets are filling up at a rate that far exceeds official estimates.

Just twenty years ago, the number crunchers, the Australian Bureau of Statistics, predicted that there’s be twenty-five (25) million people in Australia by 2051. Well, we hit that target last year — thirty-three years ahead of schedule.

The problem is, where does it all stop?


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Ben and Tori Lachman are battling to get ahead.

Ben works at Sydney University as a gardener. And the best thing about the early starts, is that he beats the crowds.

Meanwhile, back in their small, rental cottage, Tori gets her five-year old Ivy and little Ethan ready for daycare and school before she starts her working day.

Their goal is their own home.

Journalist: For both of you the Great Australian Dream is still really your dream?

Ben and Tori: “We’d love to. Yes. 100%. That’s the endgame.
Journalist: But with this population growth we have at the moment, is it attainable?
Ben and Tori: No. No way.
Journalist: We’ll that’s a bit depressing.


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Dick Smith: To give an example of how we’ve gone past the sweet point, when I bought my house it only cost $32,000 in 1970. And it was about four times the annual salary.

Now, it’s over double or even more than that. Young couples can’t afford a house with a block of land where the kids can play in a cubby house.

That’s wrong!

People are taking two hours to get to work; and that’s two hours they threw away, just wasting so much family time. No wonder we’re having so many social problems.”

For Dick Smith, the only way to beat Sydney’s crippling traffic congestion is in the air, but the endless development he sees below, depresses the hell out of him.

Dick Smith: “But that’ just the start of what I’m going to show you. Then these houses will be knocked down, and they’ll go high-rise.

The best cities in the world only have a few million. I often think of Geneva; it has a population of one million, but it’s over a thousand years old.

Now, why don’t they have five million like Sydney, going for ten million?

Because they’re bloody sensible. They have decided, ‘No, we don’t want huge high-rises, jammed roads, complete lack of quality of life. We want to think of the people who live here.”

But if Dick Smith represents one side of the population debate, developer and planning consultant, Dr. Shane Gahar represents the other.

Dr. Shane Gahar, Developer and Planning Consultant: “You know something that really bothers me? When I was a child, we used to talk about the winging palms. The winging palms winged about everything. The problem is that we have become the winging palms: Everything’s a huge problem; everything’s an issue.

We’ve one of the luckiest countries in the world, one of the nicest cities by any measure and we can’t even say, ‘thank you. This is a great place.’ And it can be a greater place with more people.

And you know what? You can fund double the infrastructure if you had more people.

For Shane, big really is beautiful. And the rest of us have to wake up to the modern reality.

Shane Gaspar: “Growth is healthy, because the alternative to growth is no growth. No growth is extremely problematic. The idea of a growing population and a growing Australia and a growing economy is good for everyone.”

That growth has been an article of faith for politicians of all persuasions — which prompted Dick Smith to make this ad.

The new Morrison government’s annual cap on permanent immigration of one hundred sixty thousand (160,000) doesn’t go far enough, according to Dick.

Dick Smith: “We’ve brought our immigration down to seventy-thousand (70,000) a year, which is the long-term average, our population would level off at about thirty (30) million and that’s what we should be doing.”

Shane Gaspar, Developer and Planning Consultant: “Let’s look at the reverse: the reverse is to have no immigration tomorrow. What will happen is we’ll have stagnation in growth. We’ll have a shrinking of the tax receipts for the next three for four years. We will not be able to fund existing services. We’ll either have to borrow or tax more, both of which are unpalatable electorally.

I’m not sure that’s the right way to go. That’s the wrong way to go. And I’ll give you another example: everyone talks about the very fast train between Sydney and Melbourne. Magnificent idea should happen tomorrow. Can’t happen; it’s the twenty billion dollar exercise with only four and five million people to support the business case.

Now if you had ten million and eight million, say, I’m just conjecturing, you would have the very fast train tomorrow.

Alan Touch, Federal Minister for Population and Urban Infrastructure: “I grew up in a place called Pakeham, which is fifty-five (55) kilometers out from Melbourne. And it was a country town of two-thousand (2,000) people when I was growing up.

Alan Touch is the son of British migrants. And he’s now the Federal Minister for Population and Urban Infrastructure.

Alan Touch: “I was born in what was called the “Pakenham Bush” nursing hospital . . . and how it’s absolutely part of the suburbs of Melbourne.”

So he is the politician at the epicenter of Australia’s population debate.

Journalist: “How big do you want to see Australia?”
Alan Touch: “I think Australia can grow, but it’s the question about how we manage that growth, that is . . .
Journalist: “But by how much? By how much?”
Alan Touch: “That is the central question. And well, it depends on what period of time you’re looking at.
Journalist: Two-thousand and fifty one (2051). Give me that figure.
Alan Touch: So it . . . it again depends on . . . it depends on how well we can manage this growth.
Journalist: Give me a figure. Because the ABS said twenty-five (25) million by 2051; we hit that last year, so give me a figure.”
Alan Touch: “Then again, the ABS figures was based on looking at the past growth rate and projecting forward based on that growth rate. So depending on what our settings are, we’ll determine what ultimately our population will be in 2050.

Undoubtedly, we will be bigger.”


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A few years ago, Pyramid Hill in northern Victoria, was like so many country towns — a fading mirage.

Today, there’s no debate about population and immigration out here. After an influx of Filipino workers and their families literally saved the town’s bacon.

Tom Smith, Kio Ora Piggery: “It’s definitely built the town up. There is something like a hundred and five (105) or whatever Filipinos in Pyramid Hill now. There’ve been thirteen homes that have been bought by Filipinos. There’s been four new ones that have been built in the last 18 months or so. So there’s not too many country towns where that’s happening.

Tom Smith and his sons run the Kia Ora Piggery, which is now a booming business. But eleven years ago, its Achilles heel as securing dedicated workers.

Tom Smith, Kia Ora Piggery: “No one wants to live in the country. Seriously.
Journalist: “So what did you do, go to the Philippines?”
Tom Smith: So what I did was put an ad in the Sunday Manila Times. We got forty responses. It started rolling in no time flat.

Richard Fernandez was one of the first Filipinos here. And now after ten years, proudly calls Australia home.

Journalist: “How do you look back on it now? Good decision?”
Richard Fernandez: “Yeah, absolutely. No regret at all.”
Journalist: “What are the Australians like?”
Richard Fernandez: “Not too bad. They’re all hard working.”

Different animal, but the same good news story just down the road. Here a fifteen-hundred (1,500) strong dairy herd is rounded up for milking twice a day by six full-time Filipino staff.

Jay and Belinda Climo had found it impossible to get reliable Ozzie workers. So in desperation they too turned to the Philippines. Herbert Apostil was their first Filipino employee.

Journalist: “When first got here and started working, that must have been experience. But you knew straight away that he was going to be good?

Belinda: “Oh yeah. He’s a very quiet guy, but he blended in so nicely. And every Filipino that has come since Herbert has been brilliant.
Journalist: “Every one of them has been a winner.”
Jay: Herbert was standing there and looking over the farm, shaking his head; he couldn’t believe that he’d made it to where he wanted to go.”

Herbert Apostil: It’s just like my dream come true. I built my own house, bought my own house, have my baby here in Australia. My dream has come true.”

Herbert’s five-year old daughter Seville started at Saint Patrick School in Pyramid Hill this year.

More than half the children attending the school have Filipino parents.

Journalist: How much of a difference have they made to the community here?
Belinda: Huge. Pyramid Hill in itself would not be anywhere near what it is now. The school had minimal numbers the store wouldn’t probably still be open.
Journalist: So they almost saved the town?
Belinda: They did save the town.
Journalist: And you’re a local boy, so you’d be proud of that?”

Pyramid Hill’s story illustrates how immigration can be a win-win for all.

But it can depend on where you live. As always there’s a divide between the city and the bush.


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Back in crowded Sydney, even immigrant taxi drivers like Indian Vikas Gupta say enough is enough. We’re full.

Journalist: “What do you think the problem is?”
Vikas Gupta: “I think the problem is migration: everybody coming from all over. They want to stay in all the big cities like Sydney and Melbourne. That’s where all the work is. People have no choice when they come from overseas.

But Sydney is not designed for that many people.

Alan Touch, Federal Population Minister: The migration level is the lowest in a decade and the trend is downwards. But the key thing with this is managing the growth, and that’s what our population policy is aimed at doing.

Now three-quarters of all the growth is in to Melbourne, Sydney and southeast Queensland, when there’re other parts of the country that want more people. There’re many parts of regional Australia that can’t get a warm body to do the work today.

It’s little wonder that Federal Population Minister, Alan Touch points to Pyramid Hill as an example of what could happen across the country — if immigrants are channeled out to the regions.

Alan Touch: “What we do want to see is a greater proportion of new people coming into the country to go to some of the smaller cities or regional areas where the jobs are available.

Dick Smith: “It would be impossible to put into practice because this is what will happen: people might come here and go to the country, initially. But this is a free country; we can’t hold people in locations forever.

And so after a while, they’ll come to the city.

As far as planning consultant Dr. Shane Gahar is concerned, the answer is simply making our cities taller not wider. So build it, and they can come in thick and fast.

Dr. Shane Gahar, Developer and Planning Consultant: “So I’ll give you an example: if you walk into a coffee shop, and there’s nobody there, you’ll generally walk out, and that’s because we somehow need other people to make our lives special.

So let’s not be scared; don’t think of migrants as a drain. Think of migrants as a resource. People are our greatest resource.

Journalist: You seriously think that if we have higher density, then everyone in Sydney and Melbourne will have a better quality of life.

Dr. Shane Gahar: “Let me give you the converse, because it’s easier to show you. If we put people fifty (50) kilometers out of the city, which we’re doing at the moment, in low density housing, it’s almost impossible to get the public transport to work to them.

Journalist: So when you hear a planner say high-density is the answer, you’re disgusted?

Dick Smith: “Do you know what most of them live on a block of land, with gardens and a place for the kids to play cricket in the back yard. So anyone who could afford it would love to have a bit of space around them.

We’re supposed to be a wealthy country. Why should we go backwards?

Journalist: “Shane, where do you live?
Shane Gahar: I live in the eastern suburbs.
Journalist: In a house?
Shane Gahar: In a house.
Journalist: With a block?
Shane Gahar: With a block.
Journalist: “Not high-density?
Shane Gahara: But I’ve lived in high-density up until that point.

Which brings us back to Ben and Tori Lachlan, working to exhaustion for a nest egg that’s becoming more elusive by the day, as Sydney, Australia, keeps on growing.

Journalist: Eight million, ten million people. What do you think of that?
Ben: Please no. It’s hard enough already.
Tori: Without adding extra pressure on top of it all.
Ben: And it isn’t fair to them, the people coming in to live.
Journalist: You don’t want a global city, as they put it.
Ben and Tori: No, no. We’re going live in a riot.

Journalist: You must look at the numbers all the time, since you’re the minister? So when are we going to hit thirty (30) million?
Alan Touch: We’ve outlined a ten-year for example, infrastructure pipeline . . .
Journalist: Great. So where are we within ten years?
Alan Touch: But in part, we’re going through a process . . .
Journalist: Thirty million?
Alan Touch: To work this out . . .
Journalist: Thirty-five?
Alan Touch: But, but, Liam . . .
Journalist: Stop me when I’m getting too high.


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1. Is Australia’s population increasing, decreasing or remaining the same? Is this primarily because Australians have three, four or five children?

2. There is lots of development (in housing, infrastructure, facilities) going on all over Australia. True or false?

3. Have the predictions and estimates by Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) been accurate? What have they predicted?

4. Describe the life of Ben and Tori, the young Australian couple. Are they optimistic and hopefully for the future?

5. According to Dick Smith and Alan Touch, things have changed dramatically since he was a child. Is this right or wrong? How have things changed? Do they share similar views and outlooks?

6. Is Shane Gahar pro or anti population growth? What are his arguments in support of growth?

7. There is a success story in the town of Pyramid Hills. Is this correct or incorrect? What happened there?

8. What are some problems of or arguments against mass immigration?

9. Is Dr. Shane Gahar a hypocrite? Why might he be considered a hypocrite?

10. The journalist is persistent and pressing in his questions, while the politician is evasive or roundabout in his replies. Yes or no?


A. Is your city (and country) growing, shrinking or remaining the same?

B. Is the population united or divided over this issue? Who supports and who opposes population growth?

C. The forces of money and business are too powerful. What do you think?

D. What will happen in the future?

E. What can or should people do?

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