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.


One thought on “Debunking Dastyari on Big Australia

  1. Just what have Australians to gain from “big Australia”. We have most to lose! This is force-feeing our GDP, at a great cost to living standards, biodiversity, climate change, and will add to the threats of food security and finite resources. Sam Dastyari needs to get over his megalomania and not inflict them on the rest of us. A member of government, the senate, should be answerable to the people of Australia, the voter, not to personal preferences or vested interests.

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