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Random Note — Population
We keep hearing as I did again last night, on an ABC panel talkfest called, believe it or not, “Talkfest” that if Australia winds back its immigration rate from 200,000 to, say, 100,000 per year it will crash the economy.
Is this a scare tactic and if not, it sortakinda reinforces the point that dependent and underpinned as we would seem to be, on unsustainable, perpetual population growth, bringing new players into the scheme to keep the economy ticking over, Australia’s economy is not much better than a demographic, walking, talking human Ponzi Scheme
If this theory is correct, as with all Ponzi schemes, when the music stops as it must, there’ll be a scramble for the exits as the entire edifice comes crashing down.
Are we a zombie economy just blithely staggering along relying on perpetual population growth to fuel, drive and turbo charge the economy? Is that it? Is that all there is? Is that the sum total of what’s propping us up and stands between economic success and failure?
As an aside, Australia only has, at any one time, 43 days of diesel and petroleum stockpiled. So given a breakdown in international relations we’re at the mercy of a couple of well targeted torpedoes on the high seas. Think about the consequences of that for a moment. Similarly Australia has the worlds largest gas reserves but we don’t have a gas reservation policy for domestic use. Genius!! 
One of the arguments for increased population at the present rate is that we need to grow the population to takeover jobs because of the ageing of the existing population. This flakey argument begs the question/observation that these people too, will age overtime. What happens then?
Apart from the economy as a factor there seems to be scant attention or regard to the very basics required to service a new Adelaide every 5 years or a new Canberra every 2 years or so with all the roads, rail, hospitals and schools etc.
Yes there are lot of cranes in the sky over Sydney and a great deal of earthworks for new tunnels, roads and rail but a lot, if not all of this is just catchup to service the existing population trapped in traffic snarls every morning and evening with peak hours further extending each year. Even locally on the Northern Beaches there is no rail at all and just talk of a tunnel under the harbour to link up with the Warringah Expressway on to the harbour bridge, yet new suburbs at Warriewood have been built and there’s a new suburb proposed for Ingleside, yet for the moment the road ingress and egress to cope with the new population remains as it has been for decades..
The one aspect of infrastructure that I have hardly heard mentioned at all is the water supply. Sydney for example is serviced by Warragamba Dam which was completed in 1960 when Sydney’s population was just over 2.1 million. Today Sydney’s population has more than doubled to 5.3 million but our water supply as remained as it was in 1960.
At some point demand will exceed supply. That will be further exacerbated by a major drought. We’ve seen this movie before and the Kurnell desal plant is not going to be able to take up the slack for 5 million inhabitants living in the Sydney basin.
Think, Capetown in South Africa which was due to run out of water in one month on April 18. This has now been pushed back to July 9, if things don’t change. This has all been brought in by a 3 year drought and a population increase of 79% since 1995.
In fact a blog I was reading last month that reinforces the point, is headlined:
“Cape Town’s water shortage highlights population Ponzi insanity”
Apart from raising the Warragamba dam wall for flood mitigation purposes what are the plans to deal with the continuing supply of water for the continuing growth in population? Are there any plans at all? Do we need another dam and if so where? Given the environmental sensitivities these days what are the chances of the political class even proposing such an idea?
In all of this it seems to me that we would be better advised to get ahead of the curve and manage the situation so that to avoid any deleterious effects to the economy we slowly wind the rate of immigration back by, say, 20 or 30 thousand over three or four years?
We’ll still get there in the end, wherever “there” is. It’ll take a little longer, but at least we’ll get there in one piece and avoid any economic calamity. Hopefully.