After championing his population policy for months, the day has finally come for Dick Smith to launch his new campaign.
Smith believes that we are on our way to destroying the Australia we all know and love if we don’t cap the number of immigrants the government is letting into the country.
His solution is to outline a very clear population policy, which he believes will fix the issues our future generations will face – a plan that he suggests eight in 10 Aussies support.
He appeared on this morning’s episode of Sunrise where he went head-to-head with David ‘Kochie’ Kosh over his vision for the country.
Kochie started the interview by asking Smith what scared him about migrants.
The 73-year-old businessman insisted that he wasn’t scared at all: “The reason Australia is so fantastic is because of our immigration, but I think it should be a sustainable level.
“For over 100 years, it’s been about 70,000 a year. It was only John Howard who put it up to 200,000 a year.”
He warned Australia’s population would rise to 100 million before the end of the century and claimed that most people would “end up poor” like many Americans, who struggle to find high-paying jobs in the 323 million-strong population.
Kochie didn’t agree with the statement and explained: “When I was growing up, people were saying, ‘We can’t have any more than 25 million because we’re going to run out of food, we’re going to run out of water,’ but progress makes things more efficient.
“We’ve got a glut of food, we export it to China. We do all that sort of thing. We had desalinisation plants that we don’t need at the moment.”
Smith agreed that Australia could survive with more people, but insisted that the quality of life wouldn’t be great – again comparing the possible scenario to America: “They have 300 million people. About 30 million are on $7.10 an hour. They can’t even afford a decent minimum wage.”
The Sunrise host wasn’t having any of it and continued with his point: “But the facts are today, the average Australian is the second richest in the world behind the Swiss and we’re in the middle of a world-record run of positive economic growth.”
Smith pointed out that we currently have 12 per cent of youth unemployment – a figure that has grown dramatically from the three per cent when both he and Kochie were younger. He also questioned if the introduction of automation and robotics would assist 100 million people when it came to finding a job.
Koch suggested that primary school kids today would end up with a job that hadn’t yet been invented, to which Smith replied: “Most of their jobs will be selling coffee to each other.”
The tension began to rise at this point in the interview, with the outspoken host suggesting that Smith hadn’t based his facts on anything: “That’s based on a silly, silly argument. That’s not based on facts.”
Again, Smith insisted he wasn’t anti-immigration, while Kochie admitted he really didn’t know what was going to happen in the future: “We might be having pills for dinner … I have no idea. That’s what scares me about your argument because you make these claims and they’re just not based on fact.”
The interview ended with Kochie agreeing that Australia does need a population policy but that it needs to keep changing with time.
“I think it’s playing on peoples’ fears,” he said of Smith’s comments before ending the segment.