Flat White

The elephants in the polling booth: infrastructure and immigration

6 March 2019

7:24 AM

6 March 2019

7:24 AM

With the New South Wales state election now just a few weeks away, all the respective parties are out there spruiking their campaign narratives to a seemingly unimpressed electorate. Despite announcing policies on everything from greyhound racing to Sydney’s infamous lockout laws, the major parties have only at best paid lip service to the elephant in the room of Australian politics, the current historically high level of immigration.

Given the fact the level of net overseas migration is set in Canberra and not in Sydney, there is actually remarkably little political cost for either Premier Gladys Berejiklian or Labor leader Michael Daley to stand up to the federal government, to press for either greater funding for New South Wales’ growing infrastructure needs, or to cut the current rate of immigration.

There is, however, one prominent figure in NSW politics willing to acknowledge the elephant in the room: Mark Latham. Since becoming the state One Nation leader in November last year, Latham has made the case that the current high rate of immigration is partly to blame for Sydney’s issues with housing affordability, congestion and long waits for essential health services.

While Latham has been dismissed as a political threat by those in the major parties at both a state and federal level, the fact remains that the Sydneysiders who bear the brunt of the nation’s high rate of immigration are growing increasingly concerned about the issue.

A November poll conducted for the Centre of Independent Studies concluded that Australian’s from across the economic spectrum were in favour of an “immigration pause or cut”, with per cent in the highest income decile and 77 per cent lowest decile supporting a cut or pause on immigration until critical infrastructure had time to catch up.

Despite the inherent baggage that the One Nation brand brings, by listening to the concerns of the electorate on the key issues affecting them in their daily lives, Latham has managed to put One Nation in a position where winning two Senate seats is a possibility according to the latest polls.

If in the coming weeks Latham can effectively manage his rhetoric and keep himself out of trouble, by maintaining his parties focus on the issues that resonate with the public, One Nation may end up holding the balance of power in the NSW senate should the election be as closely run as the opinion polls would suggest.

Ultimately, the Australian people want action from their governments, at both a state and federal level, to arrest the fall in living standards many in our capital cities have endured, as our population soared to reach 25 million, more than 30 years earlier than the ABS projected it to back in 1998.

If the likes of Mark Latham and One Nation are the only prominent political forces who will give credence to the concerns of a frustrated electorate on the issues that affect them the most, the appeal of Latham and One Nation may continue to grow as more Australian’s feel the effects of heavily underfunded infrastructure.

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