Seriously, what is wrong with old people? And will whatever it is afflict us all eventually? Because, if that’s the case, I think we should start putting people down at retirement age – you know, like compulsory euthanasia.
There are too many candidates who spring to mind, but let’s start with Donald Trump. Here’s a man who cares so little about the future of mankind (partly because most of us can’t vote for him), he refuses to accept that military grade weapons, climate change, neo-Nazism, rampant pussy grabbing, casual racism and prolific lying are all bad things.
Oh, how we laugh at him all the way down here in Australia. But we, too, have a long, loud line-up of old men just as stupid, selfish and myopic. Step forward, Dick Smith. Here’s a 73-year-old man of the people trying to run a campaign of anti-immigration that would probably get him elected to the US Senate in any number of southern US states, based on the spurious claim that Australia is full.
Little Dick thinks all our economic woes would be fixed by reducing immigration, despite the fact that we already let in a woeful number of refugees, have one the lowest people-per-square-kilometre ratios, and a population in which one in four were born overseas. (Frankly, without immigrants we wouldn’t exist, let alone be able to form a parliament.) Even the most casual acquaintance with logic will tell us Dick’s outlook is absurd, without even dipping into the kinds of things he finds annoying – like facts.
Let’s start with a few places that laugh in the face of his claims, like Tokyo, London and New York. Is Tokyo full, Dick, with its estimated population of 36 million? Crowded, yes, but full? Not on your life. It’s far more efficient to get around there than in Sydney, Melbourne or even Wollongong, because it’s run by a government who understands the importance of infrastructure spending and perfectionism, rather than ignorant and misguided exceptionalism.
Global overpopulation is a real problem, it’s true, but it’s not one Australia’s suffering yet.
The problem with this Japanese example is that they’re pretty damned racist and not exactly pro-immigration either – you can’t really call Tokyo a cultural melting pot.
That award goes to New York (which also manages to run an insanely efficient transport system 24/7, despite a population of 8.5 million, or double Sydney’s). Here’s a city so fantastically diverse it’s considered the capital of the world. Not to mention the fact it’s famously represented by a statue offering refuge to the poor, huddled masses. Its decades of immigration, on a scale that dwarfs Australia’s efforts, have hardly turned the Big Apple sour.
Blaming others for the failings of your country, rather than pointing the finger squarely where it belongs (at successive governments who’ve lined their pockets with developers’ cash and helped them get rich on real estate instead of investing in infrastructure we’re so sadly lacking) is hardly new.
Just that Dick’s (a) real good at it, and (b) so far wrong, you could argue that what Australia actually needs is more skilled migrants and a helluva lot more compassion. Just ask the UN what it thinks of our attitude towards refugees.
Visit a country like China or India and you’ll see what real overcrowding looks like. Global overpopulation is a real problem, it’s true, but it’s not one Australia’s suffering yet. What we’ve got is two cities that make up around 40 per cent of our population, and they’re heaving under the strain. We have hundreds of regional towns, like Albury, or cities like Canberra and Adelaide, that could easily be expanded to accommodate more people. And we have the levers of government that would allow us to settle people who want to live in this country, in those areas, and let them grow accordingly.
As for Dick Smith, he can go live in some place where his views will be welcome. I’m sure Trump would love to appoint him as his Minister for No Immigration At All, Like, Ever.
This article is from our current Summer Issue and is part two of a two-part series on Dick Smith's immigration policies – read part one here