Dick Smith says Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s Labor Party has failed the working class by refusing to cut immigration during a cost of living crisis.
More than 400,000 migrants arrived in Australia in the year to September as house prices surged by double-digit figures despite the Reserve Bank aggressively raising interest rates.
Capital city rents have also surged by double-digit figures during the past year while inflation is still stubbornly high at 4.9 per cent – sparking fears of more rate rises as strong population growth adds to demand for homes.
Mr Smith told Daily Mail Australia that Labor had failed in its duty to help people in outer suburban battler heartlands, who traditionally vote for the ALP.
‘Labor has failed the working class because it hasn’t communicated that we need to have a population plan,’ the 79-year-old entrepreneur said.
‘You would think they would have a population plan so working people can afford to buy a house and can afford to buy their food.
Dick Smith says Prime Minister Anthony Albanese ‘s Labor Party has failed the working class by declining to cut immigration during a cost of living crisis
‘We need to have sensible levels of immigration so people can afford a house as they’ve done for the first one-and-a-half centuries of our country.’
Mr Smith lamented how young people could no longer afford a house with a backyard and were forced to live in high-rise apartments.
He agreed that the silent generation and baby boomers had it much easier than today’s young people when it came to buying their first home.
The businessman bought his first house at Greenwich on Sydney’s lower north shore for just $32,000 in 1973, four years after marrying wife Pip and five years after establishing Dick Smith Electronics.
‘It had a beautiful view of the harbour. It was a house on a big block of land, we put a swimming pool in and kids could play in the yard – just absolutely fantastic.
‘We put in about $6,000 deposit which was easily raised.’
He said it was now ‘almost impossible’ for young people to buy a home.
‘Especially something with a backyard where the kids can play,’ he said.
‘It means the young people start living like battery hens instead of free range.
‘They’re living in high-rises, they’re living like termites. I think it’s a complete disaster.’
More than 400,000 migrants arrived in Australia in the year to September as prices to surged by double-digit figures despite the Reserve Bank raising interest rates (pictured is Sydney’s Town Hall train station)
Mr Smith told Daily Mail Australia that Labor had failed in its duty to help people in outer suburban battler heartlands, who traditionally vote for Labor
He said business lobby groups and developers vocally pushing for high immigration meant it was so difficult for young people to get into the property market.
‘It’s being driven by utter greed and it’s going to ruin the country for most people,’ he said.
‘We have about 30 per cent of our population that live pay packet to pay packet, have no savings at all.’
He said wealthy business interests had more influence over the Labor government than trade unions when it came to immigration.
‘There’s no doubt in my mind that politicians are very wary about getting the wealthy offside because, otherwise, I can’t work out one reason why Labor would want such high immigration,’ he said.
‘You don’t hear the unions calling for immigration but you do hear the wealthy.
‘Our system of capitalism, that I’ve benefited so much from, needs perpetual growth and the use of resources, energy and population, otherwise it will go into recession.’
Mr Smith said both major political parties relied on donations from corporations that favoured strong population growth.
‘It’s pretty clear that no political party is going to stand up to the wealthy, they’re just not game,’ he said.
‘That would be a way of not being elected.
‘The disadvantage of a democracy is that you get groups who become very powerful and politicians, to get elected, have to kowtow to them.’
Mr Smith wants Australia’s net annual immigration level to be slashed to 70,000 people a year, back where it was in 1997 before immigration climbed into six figures and kept rising until the pandemic in 2020.
In the year to September, migration boosted the population by 429,580 people, covering permanent and long-term arrivals.
Mr Smith bought his first house at Greenwich on Sydney’s lower north shore for just $32,000 in 1973, four years after marrying wife Pip and five years after establishing Dick Smith Electronics (the couple are pictured in 2010)
Mr Smith lamented how young people could no longer afford a house with a backyard and were forced to live in high-rise apartments (pictured are apartments at Epping in Sydney’s north)
The permanent segment, capped at 190,000 for 2023-24, includes 137,100 skilled migrants and to a lesser extent 52,500 family reunion places and those on a humanitarian visa.
That leaves international students making up the vast bulk of new migrants, which puts pressure on rents, with the overseas influx surging since Australia reopened in December 2021 after the Covid border closure.
Australia’s population now stands at 26.5million but Mr Smith said it could hit 100million by the end of the 21st century – ending Australia’s uniqueness as a large, arid country with a relatively small population.
‘Not many people I talk to believe 100million is sensible for an arid country like Australia,’ Mr Smith said.
‘One of the great advantages of Australia is the large country with a small number of people but we’re going to destroy that.’
Sydney’s median house price of $1.397million is now 14.6 times an average, full-time salary of $95,581.
With a 20 per cent deposit of $279,378, someone with a $1.117million mortgage would have a debt-to-income ratio of 11.7 – almost double the recommended maximum of six.
When Mr Smith bought his first home in 1973, Sydney’s median house price was $27,400.
With a 20 per cent deposit of $5,480, an average single earner on a $5,517 salary had a manageable debt-to-income ratio of four.
Despite the RBA’s 13 rate rises since May 2022, Sydney’s median house prices has surged by 12.5 per cent since January, CoreLogic data for November showed.
Daily Mail Australia contacted the Prime Minister’s Office and Business Council of Australia.