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Bob Carr: Why our cities will really choke with population growth

The debate is not about immigration and its benefits. We all believe in them — Australia is a migrant nation. The debate is not about multiculturalism and it’s not about the source of migrants. The debate is about whether immigration should be running at very high levels. It’s about whether we end up with a population of 36 million in 2050 in contrast to the previous expectation of 28.5 million.

There are strong economic arguments against this immigration surge. Immigration worsens skills shortages. The tradesman who’s recruited for a specific job arrives with his family. Immigration adds more to the demand for labour than it contributes to the supply. The Productivity Commission Research Report (2005) The Economic Implications of an Ageing Australia made clear migration does not reverse the ageing of the population.

Bob Birrell has pointed out you would have to run immigration at very high levels for a very long time to have the slightest effect on population aging. The population is aging in Australia and just about everywhere else. Get used to it. Nurture older workers instead of driving them out of the workforce the moment they turn 55. High immigration is not the solution.

There have been very silly comments about immigration and infrastructure. I don’t know of any period in the nation’s history when people said that infrastructure had kept pace with population growth. It can’t. The worst gap was in the 1950s when the roads of new suburbs were unpaved and Gough Whitlam’s children had to travel from Cronulla to the city to go to high school and people had to wait years for a PMG-delivered telephone connection and Queensland was an education slum, etc. We will never see that level of under-servicing again.

Federal and state governments struggle to keep pace. But struggle they always will. Increase the intake and the infrastructure gap will be more acute. South-east Queensland makes the point.

In January one academic on the 7:30 Report said that we need a new federal authority to take responsibility for all planning. This, he declared, was the answer. Once we have it we can stick to high immigration. Really? As if shifting responsibility to another level of government would dispose of all the arguments over densities, sprawl, social equity, environmental assessment, design and sustainability.

Actually Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide (I don’t know enough to comment on Brisbane and Perth) already have very sound, environmentally sensitive metropolitan plans. Among other things they identify transport corridors and areas around rail stations or transport hubs as locations for higher density development. So they are public transport-based.

They work to limit urban sprawl. Sydney has been most successful at this, achieving the highest percentage of dwellings in high and medium density. It has also got the highest percentage of the population using public transport.

But our cities will be more congested with 36 million, no matter how much goes into public transport. The arguments over sprawl and higher densities will be more intense. There will be environmental loss and a loss in quality of life: the beaches choked, the adjacent national parks degraded by force of numbers, the congestion of peak hour more intense (there is no public transport system anywhere in the world that avoids peak hour congestion). The cities will work. They will be different cities and it would be a brave person who would promise they’d offer a better quality of life.

Yet I’m far more worried about water — that is, about Australia’s erratic rainfall as a constraint on the over-ambitious population growth we seem locked into.

The business lobby won’t acknowledge any of this; they are focused on the total size of the economy, a crude measure. They don’t look at GDP growth per head. Increasing productivity is going to be harder, not easier, if this runaway immigration continues. And business should stop imagining it can have lower corporate tax rates and high immigration. High immigration mandates higher government outlays, and therefore higher taxation.

You can’t add millions to the nation’s population and expect a lower tax regime.

Public opinion has moved — is moving — and I don’t think the high growth option will be entertained politically, by either side.

  • 1
    Posted Thursday, 1 April 2010 at 1:46 pm | Permalink


    All this from undoubtedly the worst, most incompetent, most ineffective politician to set foot in any Parliament in the last 50 years?
    The very person who through his spin and through his disastrous policy initiatives - or perhaps lack thereof - single handedly turned NSW from one of the worlds’ most efficient and prosperous societies into the embarrassing backwater that it is today?

    Listen up ‘wing nuts’ go back to your new residence in NZ and spare us any more advice please!

  • 2
    Posted Thursday, 1 April 2010 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

    The hide of the man!

  • 3
    Posted Thursday, 1 April 2010 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

    Bob Carr’s weakness is that he led a government that failed to respond to Sydney’s infrastructure needs, especially in providing new rail and mass transit services in Sydney.

    In fact, his government was well-known to have a secret contempt for public transport users that dismissed them as just the poor and the no-hopers - shocking stuff from a Labor government but indicative of the fact that the current rot started well before Iemma, Rees and Keneally came along.

    So before he puts in his twenty cents about what our cities can cope with I would like to hear him account for his own government’s lack of provision for the long-term needs of the city.

  • 4
    Greg Angelo
    Posted Thursday, 1 April 2010 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    It is quite obvious to anybody with half a brain that exponential population growth cannot be maintained. Suggestions have been made by politicians that the population of Bangladesh is sustainable therefore we have nothing to worry about. Australia’s standard of living is a function of the population levels relative to the resources available in the environment. This includes clean air, water, and open space.

    Melbourne has already outgrown its environment. We cannot survive on the available water within the Melbourne catchment area without significantly degrading the environment. Accordingly we have a totally amoral and hypocritical government turning highly polluting brown coal for both a desalination plant (which we wouldn’t need if we are constrained our population), and aluminium smelter (fed by under priced electricity) which we don’t need except to feed a few union subscriptions into the ALP coffers.
    Unfortunately and we also have an unholy alliance between building unions, ALP factions, property speculators and land developers, and of course ordinary householders whose property values are steadily rising as a consequence of property scarcity. All of these players have their snouts in the trough while the environment is being trashed.

    Here in North Balwyn, trees are being bulldozed for McMansions and I cannot you get enough water to keep my garden green. Yet we have a Premier who is hell bent on a 5 million population for Melbourne whilst we are choking with inadequate public transport infrastructure, and inadequate roads investment whilst steadily increasing the population density per square kilometre in the inner suburban areas.

    At the federal level we have a lunatic running the asylum where we have a 300,000 new immigrants per annum placing additional pressure on the environment and our living standards.

    It is sad that Bob Carr was silent on these matters while he was Premier of New South Wales and it would appear that he has had a “deathbed conversion” now that he is no longer subject to factional supplication .

  • 5
    Charu Khopkar
    Posted Thursday, 1 April 2010 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    Bob Carr and Bob Birrell - a match made in heaven when it comes to whining about immigration and immigrants. The latter supplies dodgy stats and the former the media spin to give them spurious accuracy. On Bob Carr, no one could have said it any better or succintly than “Michael
    Posted Thursday, 1 April 2010 at 1:46 pm” (see above).

  • 6
    Posted Thursday, 1 April 2010 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

    Carre has been consistently bleating this message for years. As have the Greens and Tim Flannery. As if of all countries Australia couldn’t solve the problem of how to live with its environment. They are all the same these characters. What have they done to deserve this suburban paradise? And keep it to themselves? So we might have to change our lifestyle!

  • 7
    Frank Campbell
    Posted Thursday, 1 April 2010 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

    the beaches choked”

    Only an Australian would say that. A capital city dweller at that.

    Sydney has been most successful at this, achieving the highest percentage of dwellings in high and medium density.”

    Bob was Premier of where? Sydney Successful? Oxymoronic. All those dismal flats, congestion… The least desirable urban area in Oz.

    Yet I’m far more worried about water”.

    But the cities can buy their way out of water shortage. More desal. Pipes. They’re doing it now. Most water isn’t used in the cities. Look at rapacious agriculture.  Land degradation is more intractable a problem than urban water. Urbanites rarely give that a thought.

    I trust everyone reading Bob Carr’s piece notes that there isn’t a whiff of Global Warming in it, anthropogenic or otherwise. AGW is probably a furphy, but GW probably isn’t. So better give it some thought. Once again, GW (if it continues) will mainly impact the environment. For those of you unsure, the environment is not in the cities. It’s the stuff you fly over.

    Maybe Crikey should be renamed Crikey Metro, because the environment is almost never mentioned. (I exclude the endless hysteria from Calvin Hamilton and the Climate Cultists, naturally).

  • 8
    Posted Thursday, 1 April 2010 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

    Would this be the same Bob Carr who qualified for all the very generous perks of former political office-even more generous for ex-Prems,-that now works for the Mac Bank?

    Wozzamatta Bobby? Frightened you might have to make your money stretch further?

  • 9
    Posted Thursday, 1 April 2010 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

    Increased density would actually improve many areas of Sydney and Melbourne. If you visit some of the suburban wastelands in Sydney the you see areas that are crying out for the higher densities that would support a higher provision of amenities of all kind. It would also give these areas the community feel they currently lack.

    As examples look at some of the stations along the Liverpool line. You go through station after station where there is almost nothing around the station other than old low-standard suburban houses. Transform, with higher densities, the area around the station and you would have a hub that the whole surrounding community would benefit from.

  • 10
    Posted Thursday, 1 April 2010 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

    So SNESN11, Elan, Charu Kopkhar, Michael do you think you will be better off with a larger population?

    At the moment I push my way onto my peak hour tram, then push my way onto the train. I notice that pedestrians get half the space that they had 35 years ago [in the Elizabeth St subway and exits] and the population has doubled.

    The advantage of increased population is that the trams are crowded at night and thus its safer to walk round after dark than it was 20 years ago.

    Like Greg Angelo I wonder how much further I can cut my water consumption without concreting my yard and installing air conditioning.

  • 11
    Posted Thursday, 1 April 2010 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

    Billie what exactly are you talking about.
    What part of the moon do you reside on.
    Mate this is Australia 3000km East to West; 2000km North to South, more kangaroos than people and you complain?

    Have you ever travelled outside Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs?

    Have you been to Europe, Asia, South America, USA, anywhere at all outside Centennial Park?

    Mate if we have a population problem then we don’t know what a problem is.

  • 12
    Posted Thursday, 1 April 2010 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

    Billie, obviously centralising workplaces into the CBD has to end. Other commercial hubs will have to be pushed along and public transport will need to be redesigned so that it supports multiple hubs.

    As for your garden I see no right to use large amounts of water to support that. As you know, there are low water native gardens that are quite capable of thriving in a more restricted water environment.

  • 13
    Stevo the Working Twistie
    Posted Thursday, 1 April 2010 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

    Aaaah. Of course. It’s April Fool’s Day. You got me for a minute there Crikey!

  • 14
    Posted Thursday, 1 April 2010 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

    It shames me that some Australians do see this as overcrowding.

    We are nothing of the kind,-rather the opposite.

    What the hell is going on? I know this isn’t an April Fools thing. Suddenly we have so many topics here on Crikey alone, dealing with immigration/immigrants/population explosion/’illegals’/boats that are approaching Australia akin to the Dunkirk landings/ foreign ownership of Australian dwellings.

    For God’s sake get a bloody grip! What a self-centred lot we are. We settled this land whether its indigenous peoples liked it or not-and treated them VERY badly in the process;-we haven’t changed our behaviour in that very much, but we have said sorry…, so that’s OK.

    We continue to pander in political expediency, to (in modern history) our American friends, willingly joining them in illegal invasions- bringing ‘democracy’ to countries with rich oil deposits, and in this endeavour causing the deaths of countless innocent people. At the same time we and our powerful allies ignore the cruelty, exploitation, and killing in countries that have ‘nothing in it for us’.

    What happens? People are disenfranchised if they are lucky. Murdered if they are not. They run for borders…..

    And they try to achieve a life…by any means possible… that WE set out to achieve in this country of :- immigrants!! (If I was in the same position I would get on a bloody leaky boat too!)

    BUT: we cannot allow that can we? We spout on about ‘too many people/not enough water/we will all end up as Moslem’s/they are taking our homes/they are terrorists’.

    When will we ever learn? What an utterly self- absorbed lot.

    I have achieved the best life I can, but I am closing the door on you. I will do nothing to assist you. I will categorise you in the most degrading manner, and demonise you, and thus dehumanise you, to justify my moral high ground. To make me simply someone who really does care for my country.”

    Can’t you see what is happening? Look how many topics here and in other media, are now obsessing about this?

    We are returning to the utter evil that was Howardism. That man and his regime fanned the flame of hatred and intolerance.

    And here we go again…………………..

    There is a gossamer thin line between tolerance and simple humanity, and the white hooded hatred lying just beneath the surface of those just waiting for the type of ‘we’re all doomed’ bullshit currently being touted in the media at large.

    This makes me utterly fucking furious!!!!!!!!

  • 15
    Posted Thursday, 1 April 2010 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

    The really disappointing thing about Carr is that he and Kennet are rough contemporaries and yet it is Kennet, who was much derided and attacked at the time by Labor supporters, including myself, who has the far stronger record of reform in health, transport, education and infrastructure. Carr severely damaged the credibility of Labor as a party of genuine and tough reform rather than a party of appearances and spin.

    Yes, he did some good with national parks but there is little else to boast about from that long premiership.

  • 16
    Charu Khopkar
    Posted Thursday, 1 April 2010 at 6:21 pm | Permalink


    What we’d be better off with would be politicians who have the skills and the ability to govern NSW and Australia - and specifically, manage its infrastructure to provide for a population that is essential to maintain our standard of living. Politicians like Bob Carr and his ilk can only think of re-election for a period of their choosing and then parachuting into highly paid private sector job on the basis of the influence gained while in office. We elect people to political office who don’t even have the skills to manage a corner shop and give them billion dollar portfolios. We elect and re-elect politicians who are only skilled at political intrigue, whose only experience is in another politician’s back office scheming against other politicians.

    The reason why we have over-crowded trains, buses and ferries in Sydney is because of incompetent and venal politicians whose rationale for allocation of scarce resources is political advantage to secure their own re-election and the perks of power and privilege.

  • 17
    John Bennetts
    Posted Thursday, 1 April 2010 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

    We love you, Bob… really… we do, don’t we? Well, don’t we?

    On your past performance, you have picked an odd topic. Some of us will remember for a long, long time.

    So, please enjoy your perks, your MacBank office and your capital gains. Preferably, quietly and with dignity.

    Now, please p_ss off.

  • 18
    Scott Grant
    Posted Thursday, 1 April 2010 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

    I don’t think it would have mattered who was premier in NSW. Every time someone tried to plan for some desperately needed infrastructure, it got squashed by the small minded neo-liberals in treasury. THIS is where the rot resides in NSW. But Bob’s article is spot on.

  • 19
    Posted Thursday, 1 April 2010 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

    We can’t provide for a population of 35 million and maintain anything like our current standard of living. Immigration is fine but the numbers must fit the overall plan. The capital cities are just not sustainable if they keep growing. I’m very familiar with the growth of SE Qld over the past 15 years having lived in Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast. Brisbane just cannot grow much bigger with its current boundaries. High rise won’t help as most will still have a car and the roads are already jammed.

    Dear old Gough Whitlam and his much maligned team at least had a go at de-centralization but successive governments just let the idea drop as the developers went for the easy money by expanding the capitals. NSW, Victoria and Qld all have well established regional centres which could expand given the funding and given adequate support for government agencies and companies moving to those regions.

    Politics and public spending in Australia is very city-centric. In Brisbane 3 billion has just been spent on road tunnels which take you to a traffic jam at the other end. But in Toowoomba, just 1.5 hrs west, they can’t get 1.5 billion to build a new road up the range to service the ever growing energy developments further west. Sadly, I can’t see any political will to show some foresight and produce a decent plan for Australia as a whole.

  • 20
    Posted Thursday, 1 April 2010 at 9:26 pm | Permalink

    Also, look at Kennet and Carr post-premiership. Kennet has done some really worthwhile stuff in mental health. Carr has some shoddy but highly paid consultancy at Macquarie Bank and spruiks himself around the place as a third-rate public intellectual, more to feed his own vanity to any worthwhile purpose.

  • 21
    Posted Friday, 2 April 2010 at 8:26 am | Permalink


    We can’t provide for a population of 35 million and maintain anything like our current standard of living. Immigration is fine but the numbers must fit the overall plan.

    Our current standard of living is dubious and compared with most OECD countries, more third world than developed world. We are lagging behind in almost all criteria that would normally apply to the tag ‘high living standard’. Our education system below average, our health system with almost double hospital admissions than elsewhere, obesity being the worst in the world, our miserable social systems, care for the mentally ill, our high rates of incarcerations, enormously oversized cities with relative small populations spread over thousands of suburban wastelands and totally isolated acres.
    Australia has been allowed to grow unfettered and ad hoc and with one of the lowest taxation levels, again of the OECD, we can only do so much to improve our above mentioned infrastructures.
    We seem to confuse living standards with values of real estate. In other words, private wealth but public poverty.


  • 22
    Posted Friday, 2 April 2010 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    Whose living standards are we talking about here? Not mine, not anyone i know. Tough crap if some city beaches are full, if some or all trains are busy…welcome to urbanity.

  • 23
    Posted Friday, 2 April 2010 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    They aren’t even full. Ever seen pics of Rio de Janiero?

  • 24
    Denise Marcos
    Posted Friday, 2 April 2010 at 11:09 am | Permalink

    There are interesting & thought-provoking comments above. Especially from ELAN.

    Inevitably, our standard of living will be compromised - frankly it has far surpassed the modest requirements of most humans. Western culture is one of materialism, abundance & wastage. And our mantra is more more more.

  • 25
    Posted Friday, 2 April 2010 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    Our current standard of living is dubious and compared with most OECD countries, more third world than developed world.”

    You really need to get out more. In particular you need to get out and visit a few third world cities and then, perhaps, the absurdity of this statement might be apparent to you.

  • 26
    Posted Friday, 2 April 2010 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

    Its nice to sit back and watch the left strangle itself on this issue. No immigration - wasn’t that Pauline Hanson’s line? Oh but that was for a nationalistic reason. Can’t have that can we lefties?

  • 27
    Posted Friday, 2 April 2010 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

    It was Arthur Calwell’s line

  • 28
    Norman Hanscombe
    Posted Friday, 2 April 2010 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    The sad aspect of the ‘debate’ is that Carr’s opponents seem to feel it’s enough to attack his/motives/past/mother in law or anything else rather than concentrate on the issue. Even if Bob is a Martian spy (and I stress there’s no evidence he is) wouldn’t it be worth considering looking at the argument itself, rather than shooting messenger?

    There’s little doubt that rapid growth, in the short term, can and has raised our living standards. The reasons for this are understood too well to require lengthy discussion of that topic. There’s also no doubt that the planet, including Australia which is after all part of that planet, will become a disastrous catastrophe if population simply continues to grow — - and the longer the current alarming growth continues, the more intractable the problem becomes.

    Add to this the fact that non-renewable resources of all kinds are being depleted at ever-increasing rates and I don’t think it’s being over-pessimistic to suggest we might have a problem — - an extremely serious problem — - facing us. If anything, I’d suggest that Bob is being a tad too optimistic.

    For the obsessed true believers on all sides of the debate, however, careful analysis of facts isn’t necessary. Whether you’re a true blue tree hugger, a 100% denier of even the remote possibility of climate change, a member of the Citizens’ Cttee for the Defence of the Human Rights of Cockroaches, or any other of the myriad of progressive and/or conservative sects proliferating in Western Society, since you ‘know’ you’re right, who needs to do anything other than abuse the messengers?

    I guess I’ll just have to adjust to the ‘benefits’ for our lucky country having so many tertiary educated students around these days who have discovered that in the postmodern era, they only need beliefs, not arguments for supporting those beliefs?

  • 29
    Posted Friday, 2 April 2010 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

    Now there’s a real thinker. Maybe these blogs are worth it after all.

  • 30
    Hugh (Charlie) McColl
    Posted Friday, 2 April 2010 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

    Bakerboy, not that I want to see Brisbane expand (ie. cover an enlarged area) but do you really believe that it is not possible to increase the city’s population within the current boundaries? Brisbane covers an enormous area. The CBD is surrounded by tens of kilometres in every direction of sprawling suburbia. And you would wish this sprawling suburbia on Qld’s regional cities?
    Take a look at Townsville some time. Townsville is being touted by Anna Bligh as the next stimulated growth point - a regional capital (of all things!). Successive ALP local government administrations (25 years straight) have colluded with all of Australia’s best known subdivision developers to push onward and outward across the coastal flatlands creating the country’s 12th biggest city (150,000+) with hardly a medium density development more than two kilometres from the CBD. The recently deposed mayor of 19 years, now the ALP’s National Executive-appointed candidate for the Liberal-held federal seat of Herbert, is closely associated with a huge greenfield (well, spindly eucalypt woodland) urban development proposal some twenty kilometres out of town where it is proposed that a sprawling satellite city of 60,000 will be planted - totally dependent on road transport, air conditioning and the meatworks/metallurgy/military complex that Townsville has become. It’s not as if this is some silicon valley or stairway to heaven. It’s just another 2,000 ha of bush being turned into McMansionville. Apart from a water supply from the bountiful Burdekin Dam (Queensland’s largest and overflowing virtually every January), about the only thing going for this site is that it is well above sea level and of course some of Labor’s best mates have a handy stake in it, thank you very much. In every other sense it is cursed with the same drawbacks as all the rest - including that it will sprawl across the last viable habitat of an endangered finch population. Anyway, what’s one bird species when you have over 700 others?
    The developers and their contractors will almost certainly have to import labour on 457 visas to build it. Our population is so busy making money for the corporations and CO2 for the environment that we don’t have the manpower to build our own towns. Doesn’t that seem a bit odd? What do you think Micky J?

  • 31
    Posted Friday, 2 April 2010 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    Norm- Your last paragraph is good. There is a serious lack of logical arguement especially among the self righteous holier than thou set.

    Over population seems to be symptomatic of a primitive 3rd world society. When China and India raise the living standard and modernise as they are trying to do their populations should stabilise. In fact I think China’s has already (not sure about this though as you cant be sure about anything when China is concerned). Africa doesnt seem to be as much of a problem as it is currently (and sadly) being depopulated by AIDS. And western political Green organisations staffed almost entirely by socialist western european children of upper and middle class parents, go to great lengths to beseech 3rd world states to “please stay in your caves for the sake of the planet.” I agree we need to keep a tight lid on immigration here as our infrastructure is totally maxxed out to the max. Perhaps a bigger problem here is the quality or compatability of immigrants just as much as the quantity.

    Baal : Arthur Calwell is the father of the White Australia Policy and was responsible for mass immigration in the post war era - I dont think it was his “Line.”

  • 32
    skull and bones
    Posted Friday, 2 April 2010 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    On top of the over population problem, we will have to deal with the fall out from years of misguided multicultural policies. Ethnic ghettos have already formed and it is only a matter of time before ethnic rivalries cause anarchy and chaos. Any historian or anthropologist can tell you that the history of multicultural societies is steeped in bloodshed. It results in Balkinization of the society. It is a simple reality.

  • 33
    skull and bones
    Posted Friday, 2 April 2010 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

    List of those who have done so much damage to Australia that they must be considered to be planted Communist Agents sent to destroy us from within.

    Gough Whitlam
    Bob Hawke
    Paul Keating
    Bob Carr
    Kevin Rudd with particular emphasis on former Communist Party secretary Gillard.

    Any more agents detected out there?

  • 34
    Norman Hanscombe
    Posted Friday, 2 April 2010 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

    Come off it, Skull. Next thing you’ll be telling us is that the old movie, “The Manchurian Candidate”, was a documentary? We elected a known Communist, Fred Patterson, to the Qld Parliament in the 40s without the sky falling in. There was even an undercover Communist, Donald Alfred Hancock in Swan from memory, elected to the Federal Parliament in 43 — - but we survived even that.

    Nowadays, of course, the Communist Party is so miniscule it could meet in a Telephone Box; and most of its membership is so ancient they’d qualify for post-senior citizen status. Why not concentrate instead on looking out for a Martian invasion which, while admittedly unlikely, is no less a potential problem than Communist infiltration.

  • 35
    Posted Friday, 2 April 2010 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

    Posted Thursday, 1 April 2010 at 5:51 p


    SKULL AND BONES - Gough Whitlam
    Bob Hawke
    Paul Keating
    Bob Carr
    Kevin Rudd with particular emphasis on former Communist Party secretary Gillard.”

    Are you serious? What is a Communist?

  • 36
    Posted Friday, 2 April 2010 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

    SKULL AND BONES - It’s interesting to note, that Cuba is probably the only country that is self sufficient in all respects. When the Soviet Union collapsed, Cuba had to fill the gaps in many areas - they’ve succeeded with a population half the size of Australia? This together with the trade sanctions meant they either became self sufficient or collapse.
    We could do it too if we stopped the behaviour others have mentioned previously - such as Elan’s comments!

  • 37
    Posted Friday, 2 April 2010 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

    Any person who thinks that Cuba is in any way a possible model for Australia is a crank who could not possibly be taken seriously - their capacity for useful thought has disappeared.

  • 38
    Posted Friday, 2 April 2010 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

    Its not called Communisim any more. Commutarianism is the predominant received ‘theology’ of the socialist political spectrum. Even more dangerous than communism.

  • 39
    Norman Hanscombe
    Posted Friday, 2 April 2010 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

    LIZ 45, are you serious, agreeing with Elan’s emotive nonsense? Even taking in everyone who wanted to come woulodn’t make a dint on international problems. Have you no idea what little effect balancing out the world’s poverty etc with what Australians enjoy would have minimal effect — - except for for Australians, of course?

    In some respects you’re the mirror image of Skull. You both approach issues from how you’d like to imagine the world, rather than accepting the problems which arise from human nature, NOT nurture. Castro’s trump card was always that elections were irrelevant, and he eliminated his initial progressive allies who questioned his dictatorship path.

    No reasonable observer would deny that US acts made it harder for him; but no competent analyst would be blind to Castro’s brutal methods — - unless, as is all too often the case with ‘true believers’ they let their emotions blind their jydgment.

  • 40
    Posted Friday, 2 April 2010 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

    @skull and bones - enjoy your tea party, who’s puring?

  • 41
    Posted Friday, 2 April 2010 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

    @MickyJ quite correct - no ‘Asian’ immigration I think. I must have added it without thinking. Can’t have that.

  • 42
    Posted Friday, 2 April 2010 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

    How about Populate without Hysteria

  • 43
    Posted Friday, 2 April 2010 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

    i’d rather have tea party than a latte party in Paddington

  • 44
    Posted Friday, 2 April 2010 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

    NORMAN - And of course in the US we had George W stealing the election of 2000 and probably the next one too! Watch ‘How Bush Won Florida’ and read more about it. The CIA now have permission to kill any US citizen anywhere in the world without the messy nonsense of a trial. They have prisons in Afghanistan, Iraq and who knows where else, and of course Guantanamo Bay, where the rule of law is a joke. You could also watch ‘Unconstitutional- the US war on civil liberties’ and many others. The US cares about its citizens so highly, that well over 130,000 of them died between 2000-‘06 because they had no health care. How many of its citizens does it execute each yr; hasn’t even signed the policy re no violence to women and kids, invades countries for their resources and thinks it can go anywhere in the world and do anything including mass murder- and we support it! Raising these things is ‘emotive nonsense’?

    Cuba on the other hand is training 1000 people from East Timor to be doctors. Cuba & Venezuela were the first on the scene after the Haiti disaster. Cuba at one stage had more doctors in other countries than in their own. It’s a better global citizen than we are and certainly much better than the US. We’re stealing the monies that are rightly East Timor’s via oil and gas. An agreement sorted out by Howard/Downer, and Rudd to his shame hasn’t either changed it or spoken out against this injustice. Downer had the right to lecture East Timor when they had the damned cheek to complain - “after all we’ve done for you” was Downer’s retort! What an insult to the people of East Timor seeing we helped in Soharto’s genocidal policies that resulted in 180,000 deaths!
    If it wasn’t for the Australian people’s rallies etc Howard/Downer wouldn’t have been forced to go to their aid the last time?

    What do you know of Cuba anyway!

    Even taking in everyone who wanted to come wouldn’t make a dint on international problems.” Elan didn’t advocate taking in everyone who wanted to come” nor did I? I just think that we’re getting bloody selfish and insular. It wouldn’t be so bad if we either participated in causing so much of the misery(Iraq,Afghanistan and sucking up to Israel and ignoring their horrific violent acts against Palestinians etc) but to participate in the violence and then carrying on in a racist manner re those particularly from these countries is just indefensible in my view, and yes, it makes me f*****g furious too!

    Going by your ideas on how we should behave - it’s a case of let’s do anyone and any country over and just look after ourselves! Anything less is immature and/or idealistic!
    We’ve achieved this standard by lowering our standards over many yrs by killing etc the indigenous people of this land - we’re still doing it - we just use different methods these days!

  • 45
    Posted Friday, 2 April 2010 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

    @MICKYJ - Oh dear, has nobody told you Crikey has a ban on ‘latte’ drinking as a term of social identification (and abuse)? Rather like comparing behaviour to Hitler, you lose as soon as you go there. Sorry, but you’re out without scoring.

  • 46
    Posted Friday, 2 April 2010 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

    What would you consider and acceptable insult then?

  • 47
    Posted Friday, 2 April 2010 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

    First you have to decide exactly who you are trying to insult. People drinking coffee with milk who live or hang out in Paddington? Sorry, it won’t do.

  • 48
    Posted Friday, 2 April 2010 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

    I cant insult you - you havent said anything yet that makes me want to. You seem to be sniping without making any statements. Small target strategy.

  • 49
    Posted Friday, 2 April 2010 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

    By the way, Cuban’ literacy rate is higher than that of Australia at 99%. Their health services are also something that is enviable and free.
    Their main struggle has been that the US, that glorious ikon for freedom curtailed the freedom for Cubans for decades by trade sanctions. Anyway, they have overcome the impossible.
    Apart from all that, the country sings and is alive. That’s perhaps a bit more than can be said about our suburban and isolated way of life.
    Even so, we have our Westfield food courts and Bunnings to add substance and relief to the ennui of everyday living and rampant debt levels.

  • 50
    Posted Friday, 2 April 2010 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

    MickyJ interesting assumption that you should think I’d think you were insulting me, but as you correctly observe, I haven’t made any ‘statements’. There are plenty of people doing that. I’m just here to monitor poor argument, irrational assertions and sloppy logic, so sorry, Micky, you are the target. But, a little study and self awareness and who knows you too might make a useful contribution to this thread. :)