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Victorian treasurer mentions population growth

from The Age, 28th April 2008
link to article from The Age

The last 3 sentences are of interest:

Mr Lenders, who grew up on a Gippsland dairy farm and was briefly a Young Liberal, said there should be a debate on how Victoria handles population growth.

But it was the Government's role to help make Melbourne liveable, not to determine how big it grew.

"I'm not quite sure what governments do about that," he said. "If we are trying to have a vibrant economy, people will want to come and live here."

First sentence above is not controversial, but at least a debate could give an airing to the issues that are impacted by population growth.
The second sentence shows how governments in this country "govern", by excluding themselves from issues that governments should deal with. Lenders is using the TINA (there is no alternative) argument, he probably means that because the ALP is funded by the growth lobby we should allow the lobbyists to set policy and the governments role is purely one of management.
In the last sentence he purposely confuses the reasoning behind the current rate of immigration, there is no question that Australia is an attractive destination, it is the role of governments (state and federal) to govern for all Australians and set about creating and implementing policies to that aim, instead of allowing those who are able to give big donations to political parties and have a large lobbying infrastructure to do it for them.

Treasurer John Lenders: "I think a state of excitement in treasury<br />
can imply that you are not doing your job."

Treasurer John Lenders: "I think a state of excitement in treasury can imply that you are not doing your job."

Full article:
Mr Excitement? Not me, says state money manager
Treasurer John Lenders: "I think a state of excitement in treasury can imply that you are not doing your job."
Photo: Roger Cummins
Melissa Fyfe
April 27, 2008
JOHN Lenders wants you to know he is not an exciting kind of guy. In fact, the state Treasurer admits people may think he is dull and, yes, he loves spreadsheets.
Mr Lenders, who will step out of the shadow of Premier John Brumby, Australia's longest-serving state treasurer, to deliver his first budget on May 6, also wants you to know that his non-excitable pair of hands is a safe place for the state's finances.
"If the accusation against a treasurer is that they he is a dull person but has an addiction to spreadsheets, it is probably a very good addiction for a treasurer to have," said Mr Lenders, in response to a comment once quoted from an unnamed critic.
"I think a state of excitement in treasury can imply that you are not doing your job, which is to prudently manage resources."
In an interview with The Sunday Age, the career politician and former state Labor Party secretary saidgovernment revenue would be about $37 billion, up from $34.3 billion last year.
He said Victoria's economy was still growing strongly despite global financial problems. The drought recovery forecast in last year's budget, however, had turned out to be "patchy".
Mr Lenders, who had held the portfolios of finance, education, industrial relations, WorkCover and major projects, said there would be no money in this budget for the Eddington transport plan, as it was still up for public discussion, and the Government had not formed a response.
He said there would be no extra money — beyond an already committed $150 million — for the construction phase of the channel deepening project.
He would not be drawn on relief for home buyers in the forms of cuts to stamp duty, or the business wish list of tax cuts, such as land, payroll and WorkCover.
Mr Brumby decided to give the Treasury job to Mr Lenders over a younger colleague, Tim Holding, partly on the grounds that Mr Lenders is a family man. As such, Mr Lenders said, he was guided by thinking about opportunities for his three adult children.
Mr Lenders, who grew up on a Gippsland dairy farm and was briefly a Young Liberal, said there should be a debate on how Victoria handles population growth.
But it was the Government's role to help make Melbourne liveable, not to determine how big it grew.
"I'm not quite sure what governments do about that," he said. "If we are trying to have a vibrant economy, people will want to come and live here."

Comments

Thanks for drawing this story to our attention, Ilan. In a way, it's good that John Lenders has raised this issue in this way instead of just relentlessly shouting that massive population growth is inherently a good thing as the rest of the members of the Victorian Government seem to. Nevertheless, his comments still appear to accept some premises which are in conflict with democratic principles as Ilan has noted. For example, why shouldn't a democratically elected Government which is supposedly acting in the best interest of the public it is purportedly serving determine how big it can grow?

Every day of the week we find stories in the media where what should be regarded as a choice to be decided one way or the other through democratic processes is, instead, presented to us as a foregone conclusion over which none of us, from the highest levels of government and business decision makers right down to the communities and individuals within them can have any control. In fact, as I have noted in my article The Australian laments outcome of Queensland local government elections of 29 March:

... the choice is being made, but instead of it being made by the affected communities, it is being made by politicians, like Queensland Premier Anna Bligh, who serve the same vested interests as does the Murdoch media. They include principally the aforementioned Property Council of Australia, whose members gain from population growth, through land speculation and property development, at the expense of the rest of the community, the environment and future generations.

What is Mr Lenders trying to say here?

'Mr Lenders, who grew up on a Gippsland dairy farm and was briefly a Young Liberal, said there should be a debate on how Victoria handles population growth.
But it was the Government's role to help make Melbourne liveable, not to determine how big it grew.
"I'm not quite sure what governments do about that," he said. "If we are trying to have a vibrant economy, people will want to come and live here."'

Either Treasurer Lenders is acknowledging that the government is (to say the least) stepping outside its role in undemocratically engineering a much larger than natural population, with all the problems that entails for Victorians, OR Mr Lenders is maintaining the fiction that Victoria's population is growing accidentally because 'people... want to come and live here' OR he is condoning the highjacking of government by the commercial growth lobbies (mainly in housing, development and finance).

Does anyone know which of the above? In the first this would indicate unusual courage amongst the other cowardly lock-steppers in Victoria's government. In the second it would indicate dishonesty or incompetence (neither a good thing in a treasurer). In the third, his statement would indicate open support for the Victorian government's - um, is there any other word but 'fascist'? - alliance with big business against the people.

Does anyone know where Mr Lenders really stands?

Sheila Newman, population sociologist
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I go for the 3rd option:
he is condoning the highjacking of government by the commercial growth lobbies (mainly in housing, development and finance).

I think in some corner of his mind there is a hint of discomfort with the way Victoria is governed, but he is happy to go along with things as they are.