You are here

The Australian's April fool's joke

Until I saw the date of publication, 1 April 2008, the Australian newspaper's article Population soaring across country, purportedly 'celebrating' Australia's current record high rate of population growth of 1.53per cent, up from 1.48 per cent the previous year, had me mystified.

The 1.53 per cent increase represesented an extra 316,000 in 2006-07. This comprised 10,000 extra births (273,000, up from 263,000) and 31,000 extra people gained through migration (178,000, up from 147,000), but also 1000 more deaths (135,000, up from 134,000).

The article features “Bernard Salt”, who I now realise is not real, but rather an invented and extreme caricature of a pro-population growth demographer. Salt implausibly tells of a rivalry that has developed between Sydney and Melbourne, the respective inhabitants of which want to outdo each other in efforts to have the most congested traffic, the longest average commuting times and distances, the highest per-capita tollway charges, the most crowded trains, the highest number of stranded bus passengers, the highest water charges, council rates and electricity bills and longest hospital waiting lists.

In this competition, Sydney which only grew by 51,000 people last year has fallen behind Melbourne, which grew by 62,000. However, Sydney appears to be making up a lot of ground as it grew by only 36,000 the previous year. Mr Salt said, "They love their rivalry, Sydney and Melbourne, and it'll be interesting to see next year if Sydney keeps growing and can get back in front."

However, in relative and not absolute terms, the Gold Coast and Brisbane remained the fastest-growing areas, with an extra 17,000 and an extra 16,000 people respectively. Brisbane residents can now boast at having exceeded one million and eagerly look forward to the pleasures of shared room rental accommodation when they achieve their next million.

The

nutty Mr Salt

rejoiced over what every thinking adult in this country recognises as a demographic and environmental disaster:

“It's everything coming together at the same time.

“Generation X has finally realised they can have babies; migration is very high, mainly because of the skills shortage and the need to fill jobs to keep the mining boom going; and the baby boomers aren't dying yet.”

The Australian's efforts to employ humour in order to draw the public's attention to the threat of over-population is to be applauded.

Comments

Honestly. Has the mainstream media in this country always been so deplorable? Both Murdoch and Fairfax seem to be presenting undiluted spin as genuine news with increasing regularity.

The Herald, which likes to portray itself as Sydney's quality paper, is obviously not averse to shedding all journalistic standards when it comes to a pro-business story. Today's (21/5) online selection offers a classic case in point.

The report, Australia slips in peaceful nations list contains some of the most partisan corporate effluent ever inflicted on the Herald's long suffering readers.

The article opens with the startling revelation that 'Business is likely to be the driver of global peace'. Wow. Not business as a consequence of a civil society with well developed infrastructure and an educated population. Not even business as a minor contributing factor. No. THE driver of global peace. The ONLY driver.

You see, it seems Ghandi, Lennon et al had it all wrong. While they were calling for compassion, tolerance and non-violence, what they should have been doing is calling for lower taxes and less government restriction, so business could get on with making the world more peaceful. If only they'd read the Herald..

The article goes on to quote Sydney-based 'philanthropist' Steve Killelea as saying "Business can drive peace, no doubt about that. Business, as we all know, affects government and the way governments think".

"One of the beautiful things about business is it really is driven by the bottom line. If you can create the associations with a particular agenda and their bottom line, they will respond and I think peace is one of those things."

So there you have it. All we need to do to establish world peace is (somehow) create an association between peace and business' bottom line and we'll be fine. Until now, I naively thought that business' bottom line was about return on investment and not much else - but obviously I'm missing something that Mr Killalea knows.

The last half of the article deals with the far less sexy details. You know, the list itself, where countries rated and the like. And despite a growing sense of nausea from having to wade through this bile, I read on.

What I discovered is that the 3 most peaceful countries are all Scandinavian nations that have traditionally run social-democratic forms of government. The most peaceful nation of all is Iceland, which (I'm sure coincidentally) has a relatively stable population and homogenous national culture. That paragon of corporate freedom, the USA is rated number 97. PNG, Libya and even that blasted-commie cesspit Cuba rate higher.

Mr Killalea's thoughts on all this go unrecorded, but Herald readers are re-assured that an "Institute of Economics and Peace will be established in Sydney this year to research the economic benefits of peace and encourage business to lead government on the issue".

Just what we need.

.

I have been wondering the same thing, referring to your question of, 'Has the mainstream media in this country always been so deplorable?'. On the question of pushing for a big population, I would say it has defninitely got bolder, just by comparison with chapter 6 of my thesis on the Growth Lobby (www.candobetter.org/sheila). The ABC seems to have, along with much of the public, lost its ability to distinguish between opinion offered by vested commercial interest and opinion offered by relatively disinterested experts. It presents as 'news' stuff from Bernard Salt, APop and the Property Council of Australia as if it were on a par with ABS information. The problem of the commercialisation of universities has also made plain speaking very difficult for lecturers and researchers to speak out or even to think against the research dollar. In fact anyone who is going to speak out against growth will have a lot of difficulty getting a guernsey in academia.

Another thing to note is the restriction on length of letters to the editor in the press. Letters have been considerably dumbed down and blanded through selection, I would suggest. The restrictions on length are an insult to contributors.

And, of course, the newspapers (and tv) are really the mouthpieces of enormous corporate empires and, if you look at it from that perspective, it is obvious that what they publish in terms of journalism, never goes against that interest except in a token fashion, and much can be seen to further that interest (classically real-estate marketing and property 'analysis', suppression of fossil-fuel depletion and, most importantly, selection of politicians by screening out any who pose a significant threat to the established ideology.

You don't have a chance if Murdoch and, to a lesser extent, Fairfax, don't like you. I hardly watch commercial tv but I assume it is the same there. Give me u-tube any day.

International syndication is the name of the game these days and there are very few real journos at the feed-trough. Even our most outspoken journalists tend to cave in to the hand that feeds them on the big issues. Even if they are now independently wealthy, I bet that they cannot bear the idea of losing that platform that being a regular columnist or announcer gives them.

Of course this is all well known and was predicted by various writers about media and technology decades ago.

Which is why it is so damn important to get www.candobetter.org up in the public eye because it offers a new paradigm. Ditto for any other online news orgs like it. A clue for detecting the real thing as opposed to political market research trojan horses: they won't have boards of directors from banks or mainstream political parties.

Sheila Newman, population sociologist
home page
Copyright to the author. Please contact sheila [AT] candobetter org or the editor if you wish to make substantial reproduction or republish.