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