Jon Faine's Conversation Hour featured a debate between growthist Bernard Salt of KPMG and Australian businessman and author, Dick Smith, who argues against growth. The only possibility of commenting was by SMS. There was no phone-in. My own experience of debating population growth on the conversation hour with ex-Premier Steve Bracks was that people later tried to make comments on the internet page associated with that debate, but the page was dysfunctional and quickly fell into total disrepair. I am therefore creating this page in the hope of getting some representation of public opinion on this matter. Comments on these mens' respective books are also welcome.
You can access the debate here, immediately, and here on ABC, eventually.
Hear Dick Smith talk about his book on the Allen Jones show, NSW.
Buy the book, Population Crisis, The Dangers of Unsustainable Growth
for $19.99 here.
Population growth increases costs of retirement - Sheila Newman, Population Sociologist
This is what I wanted to say, and which I finished up emailing to the station under a general heading "Jon Faine Conversation Hour with Salt and Smith."
Bernard Salt's main argument is that we will need more young workers to pay for the retirement of elderly baby boomers. He overlooks the fact that population growth makes us uncompetitive because most of our labour goes into paying for the rising cost of land in the form of high rents and huge mortgages. Without these rising costs people would need very little money in retirement and young people would not have to work so hard and would be easily able to purchase or inherit housing. I think that Bernard Salt's policies are dangerously anti-social, anti-democratic and promote an unsustainable economy.
Here, by the way, is the link for the debate I had in April 2010 with Steve Bracks, when the phones went absolutely wild - as Jon Faine commented excitedly - yet the web-site for comments was not viable. (I retested it recently and it was still not working. Potentially thousands of comments were prevented.) In this most recent debate on a subject marketed with pro-growth bias by all the mainstream media, phone-ins were simply not possible. Will there be a page for comments?
Salt misrepresents himself as small target - debating tactics - From Ilan G.
I thought Bernard Salt successfully presented himself as a small target by agreeing with Dick Smith too often, but as far as I am concerned this is a rhetorical device for hiding his extremist views. I felt he (Salt) misrepresented his real personal views.
What I am trying to say is that someone sitting on the fence of the population issue would have probably been reassured by Salt and seen Smith as more alarmist. Salt used a platitude about business people being concerned about the future which was total rubbish and not at all a reflection on the way they behave. If you have no concept of peak oil and want to think that climate change is not an issue, the things Salt was saying sounded reasonable.
This was illustrated when they talked about population targets for 2050. He made out that Smith's target based on 80,000 NOM (I think) would reach 29M and his (Salt's) higher immigration for this decade before coming down to Smith's level would end up at 32M. So his point was we are talking a difference of only 3 Million or around 10%, which Salt suggested was a marginal difference that will hardly be felt in 2050. But Salt uses every other opportunity to promote population growth and economic growth in general, he never presents any arguments about needing to slow down in the future. If we still have "business as usual" in 2020 and Salt is still around I am sure he will still be advocating increased immigration.
I would like to see Kelvin Thomson debate Salt. Thomson is quicker on his feet and always seems to have the statistics at his fingertips. I witnessed the debate between Thomson and the Committee for Melbourne (CFM) CEO Andrew MacLeod. Like Salt, the MacLeod guy agreed to much with Thomson and said things that he would never otherwise say to any other forum, but Thomson always had really good answers.
So the conclusion is that the growthists are taking note of our arguments and are now using "small target" tactic by agreeing with many things the other side of the debate says, but this only happens in direct confrontations. When they are speaking at a business breakfast or any other corporate talk-fest, they repeat the same mantras that have long been refuted
Katie G (not verified)
Tue, 2011-05-31 12:31
Salt-Smith debate: What about the environment?
Anonymous (not verified)
Tue, 2011-05-31 13:06
Population growth - leaves future generations the problems
Tue, 2011-05-31 13:39
Salt-Smith-Jon Faine Show: Only a pretence of a debate
Contrary to ABC radio 2GB's promotion, the debate was only for half an hour and not one hour. The second half hour was given over to a businessman. Even though, Dick Smith and Bernard Salt remained in the studio, the second half hour was taken up with the businessman's pet topics including the claim that many very wealthy people are philanthropic. Some of the second half hour was given to the claim that Australia was becoming a smarter country because of high immigration, but none of the second half hour was given to the case against immigration. So, if we take away the time taken up by the 10.00AM news and the formalities of starting the program, probably only 20 minutes was given to any actual debate of which only about 10 minutes would have been taken up by Dick Smith arguing against population -- nowhere near enough time for Dick Smith to put his case and to shoot down Salt's spurious pro-population-growth arguments.
Unsurprisingly, the debate was not conclusive. The full fifty minutes may have been just enough time to give some justice to this critical issue. Had this been done, the arguments put by Salt, which he is given so much other air time to put elsewhere, could have been easily shown up to be as illogical as they were.
1. I have forgotten the businessman's name and it is not currently listed on the web site.
Mother-of-none (not verified)
Tue, 2011-05-31 14:27
Smith-Salt debate - ABC bias?
Anonymous (not verified)
Fri, 2011-06-03 02:06
Tony Delroy gives Bernard Salt a free kick
Tue, 2011-05-31 15:59
'Economists' depict living standard declines as increases
Joe Z (not verified)
Tue, 2011-05-31 21:02
Faine cannot accept average Australian point of view
Dally Messenger III (not verified)
Wed, 2011-06-01 06:25
Wed, 2011-06-01 11:43
The ageing chestnut
Greg (not verified)
Sun, 2011-06-05 19:53
Too much Salt bad for your health
Salt's moderated position in this discussion was transparently disingenuous to anyone abreast of the issue. The notion of growing for 'just another 10-15 years' is obviously an oily smokescreen. It seeks to maintain the momentum of the status quo by diverting attention from, and marginalising as 'extreme', the action that is immediately necessary. Given similar politics in 10-15 years time, Mr Salt or his regenerative industry clones will be maintaining the same notional horizon for delay.
A rejoinder to Salt's pretense is to ask him to define the process by which building trades jobs will transitioned to enable his envisioned growth slowdown in 10-15 years time. If he has or knows of such a plan, then why not apply it now? If he hasn't one, or any clue where one will come from, then quite obviously he is going to chant the same reasons for extending growth rates at that future time.
It is true that employment patterns and collateral-based debt (hinged upon property price increases) within the current economy are huge structural problems. However these problems only get worse by propping them up via ongoing population growth.
I've recently come across the following stark illumination:
I understand that Mr Salt's address is Camberwell, a leafy Melbourne suburb largely unaffected by the negative conditions pursuant to Mr Salt's advocacy. B.S. and his ilk are able to protect their own amenity with the considerable wealth they garner from activity that commits many others to hell. He should perhaps plan on building himself higher walls if he intends to continue touting the growth of hell on earth around him.
Anonymous (not verified)
Mon, 2011-06-06 09:38
Julia's plans for Bigger than Big Australia
jc (not verified)
Tue, 2014-01-28 15:14