The Australian ballot – a great tradition, thanks to #AustraliaDay 1788

The innovative “Australian ballot” system was a world-first, introduced by British colonial governments in Tasmania, Victoria and South Australia in 1856, and adopted later by the other colonies, the federated Australia, and many other nations world-wide. The Encyclopaedia Britannica describes this as a “system of voting in which voters mark their choices in privacy on uniform ballots printed and distributed by the government or designate their choices by some other secret means.”

It’s appropriate on Australia Day to celebrate the traditions of government brought to our continent by British settlers from 1788, and to consider participating in the democratic processes that are currently available to us through our paper-based secret ballot system (probably to be wiped away by electronic voting, sooner or later). Here are some suggestions for action you can take this year:

  • Help promote REDUCE IMMIGRATION. Our printable flyers include a bookmark and a leaflet. Forward, print and distribute these as widely as you can to raise awareness of the campaign to write the REDUCE IMMIGRATION slogan in the blank space at the top of ballot papers.
  • Keep up to date on information about the REDUCE IMMIGRATION campaign. Stay in contact with the news we post to our website by typing your email address in the “Follow” box at the lower right corner of your screen.  You can also follow us on Twitter and re-tweet our posts.

Happy Australia Day!

 


Further reading (added 27 August 2016):

Geoffrey Blainey, ‘After the gold rush, the colonial cradle of democracy’The Australian, 27 August 2016, pp. 20-21. (“19th-century Australian led the way in giving the vote to the people”.)

Heading for ‘CARmageddon’? – Melbourne meeting of Victoria First Inc.

Victoria First Inc is a new group, launched last December, that advocates a reduction in Australia’s immigration program. Kelvin Thomson MP, the group’s President, has announced details of their first general meeting.

The guest speaker at the meeting is Dr Ernest Healy of the Centre for Population and Urban Research, Monash University. His topical subject “Melbourne – Heading for CARmageddon?” will address the population boom and increased car ownership and dependence. There will be time for comments and questions.

Date:      Saturday 1 February 2014

Time:      1:45 pm for a 2 pm start, until 4 pm

Venue:    The “Community Room”, Edinburgh Gardens, North Fitzroy, Victoria

Melway:  Map 2C Ref C2

The Edinburgh Gardens are on Brunswick Street, near the beginning of St Georges Road in North Fitzroy. The most convenient public transport is tram route 112 – alight at stop 20, outside the Fitzroy Bowling Club. Enter the Gardens by the pathway near the Bowling Club and walk past the Tennis Club. The “Community Room” is located under the Fitzroy Football Pavilion. The route will be sign-posted on the day.

Further information about the meeting and Victoria First Inc is available from the Secretary, Julianne Bell, via email (jbell5@bigpond.com). 

Fresh voices against a Big Australia

The increasing pressures from high immigration on Australia’s population and infrastructure  – present and future  – are being recognised across the country.

Yesterday, Brisbane’s Courier Mail revealed a plan by the Queensland and Australian governments to decentralise the settlement of immigrants (Newman and Abbott governments plan for immigrants and refugees to be sent to regional Queensland towns, 20 January 2014).

The article claimed that, “under the Queensland Plan, the Government wants 50 per cent of the population to live outside the southeast corner by 2034, meaning the regions would have to cater for another 2.3 million people”.

A photograph accompanying the story shows a family of migrants from the UK enjoying the beach at Cairns. They expressed concern about future “overcrowding”.

On the same page of the Courier Mail website is a short video comment by demographer Bernard Salt who observes, “the Big Australia scenario just got bigger”. The video actually seems to have been filmed last November, when the Australian Bureau of Statistics launched its latest Population Projections for Australia. Salt suggests that the public might not be happy with the statisticians’ prediction of 240,000 overseas migrants per year.

Today’s letters column in the Courier Mail engages forcefully with the issue of regional overpopulation. One writer, David Haselgrove, wisely notes:

All coastal regions are just like the main cities. They are being swamped by population growth now. An influx of new immigrants, many of whom would have foreign values and special needs, will only make things worse.

It would be much more logical to cut immigration from the current 200,000 plus a year to around 70,000.

This would balance immigration with emigration, which would mean that immigration did not add to population growth. Cutting immigration to a net zero would be popular politically.

Meanwhile, in Victoria, federal MP Kelvin Thomson has challenged the rapid urban expansion that is “spilling over into agricultural land” (Land available for Melbourne’s growth but MP warns on fast expansionHerald Sun, 21 January 2014). He observed that “growth was too rapid for the capacity of infrastructure and was fuelling higher council rates, electricity, gas and water charges”.

Thomson has also criticised the Liberal Government’s proposed solution to the currently unsustainable level of welfare spending as “a mean spirited attack on the poor”. A post on Thomson’s blog today suggests that there are “fairer and more appropriate ways of reducing the $70 billion welfare budget”, including by lifting Australia’s workforce participation rate:

The latest figures show our participation rate has fallen to 64.6%, the lowest level since 2006. We have over 720,000 Australians out of work, and over 820,000 Australians receiving the Disability Support Pension. Why, then, are we running such massive permanent and temporary migrant worker programs? Over one million temporary visa holders have work rights in Australia. We need to cap and reduce the migrant worker programs and give job opportunities and job security to Australians who are presently out of work.  (21 January 2014; 3.34pm)

Last week, correspondents to The Australian made similar observations, suggesting that we need to “train our own workers before imports”.

We congratulate everyone who is speaking up on behalf of reduced immigration. We also urge Australian voters in the electorate of Griffith to use their by-election on 8 February to send an urgent message to Canberra by writing REDUCE IMMIGRATION in the blank space at the top of their ballot papers.

Debunking Dastyari on Big Australia

NSW Labor Senator, Sam Dastyari, has taken advantage of the seasonal “low news” period to reiterate his advocacy for a Big Australia. His earlier statement was made as part of his maiden speech to the Senate on 11 December 2013, and reported widely (see for example, the Sydney Morning Herald website on that date).

Today, The Australian newspaper carries a news item (p. 3) that reports Dastyari saying: “A population of 35 million by 2050 should not be feared, it should be embraced.”

While his claim flies in the face of all the information supporting our position on the need to REDUCE IMMIGRATION, Dastyari’s opinion piece, also in today’s Australian (p. 10) makes a relevant admission:

The path to a Big Australia involves a considerable political shift. It means confidently embracing immigration and moving away from the currently accepted notion that the Australian public won’t support or accept an increase in migration levels.

In other words – yes, there IS indeed widespread popular resistance to increased immigration. Dastyari clearly thinks that this attitude can be manipulated at the political level, but admits that such change will not be easy. In the news article, he observes:

This is not an easy issue for Labor or the Coalition, but we must embrace immigration as a big idea for Australia’s future and win support for it in the community. (The Australian, 3 January 2014, p. 3)

In his opinion piece, Dastyari repeats the same ritual, utopian, unrealistic and in many ways insulting caveat that so many other Big Australia advocates have done for decades:

Immigration cannot work without high-quality, well-managed and carefully planned public infrastructure. (The Australian, 3 January 2014, p. 10)

Generations of State and local government planners and providers of ever stretching housing, education, health, roads, water and electricity infrastructure have done their best to expand everything continually, at an unnaturally forced pace since the post-WW2 mass-immigration-at-all-costs credo took hold and became a force behind the debilitating burden of bigness and complexity that drives the pace of our social and environmental decline today.

Dastyari ignores the need for environmental sustainability alongside such development of infrastructure. His p. 10 claims, based on comparative population densities, are laughable: “While we may be constrained by geography in some places, our capital cities are generally flat and sprawling.” We recommend for Dastyari’s summer-holiday reading the accumulated proceedings, since 1988, of the Australian Academy of Science’s Fenner conferences – devoted to identifying issues of environmental and ecological significance that are of relevance to policy. By way of example, the 2007 conference addressed “Water, population and Australia’s urban future”, and the 2013 conference considered “Population, Resources and Climate Change – Implications for Australia’s near future”.

Dastyari states (p. 10): “As we head into a non-election year we have a window of opportunity for a real debate about our immigration numbers”, and “When we talk about immigration, it must be as part of a broader discussion about planning for our future”. Many others have said the same, well before he arrived in the Senate – and we agree – but the sad truth is that “real debate about our immigration numbers” never seems to happen…

We are confident that the evidence, if now properly considered, will dismiss his Big Australia notions – and will support the need to REDUCE IMMIGRATION.