A couple of years back the Dominion-Post ran a series of interviews with young Australians who’d migrated to Wellington.
Typically they were in their thirties and were self-employed. Most said they were attracted by the capital’s physical features and its scale, as opposed to the anonymity of say Sydney or Melbourne. All complained of Australia’s oppressive income tax regime and over the top bureaucracy.
I’ve had a Sydney home for half a century but rarely visit nowadays. Australia has been a rewarding part of my life, nevertheless I readily understand these migrants’ decisions.
But here’s the point. One of those arrival’s comments stuck in my memory. He was a chap in his late 30s and said he was born and had lived all of his life in Melbourne. He went on to say that the summer temperatures had reached a point of overwhelming oppression which he could no longer tolerate, thus his departure. Anyone familiar with Melbourne will empathise with that. It’s outrageous that the Australian Open continues to be staged there in late January and without exception every year, the heat is a cause for player complaint. When Boris Becker, against the odds, won the tournament in 1996 he said he wouldn’t be returning and predicted if they persisted with a January date, inevitably someone would die.
Early this year Adelaide endured weeks of temperatures in the high forties. That’s not tolerable unless you wish to live a zombie air-conditioned life indoors, such as Dubai, today the favoured holiday spot for Europe’s tattooed classes. Two more years of that and Adelaide will become a ghost town, but for one thing. Home owners will be stuck through an absence of buyers.
All predictions point to Australia’s standard high heat levels soaring to new heights through the global warming phenomenon.
If as seems probable that eventuates, by dint of proximity and common culture, New Zealand is the obvious target for desperate Australians to flee to. It’s not inconceivable that within a decade, a million or so Aussies will cry enough and seek to migrate here, as they alone of any country are currently free to do. Dealing with that would induce huge problems.
Of necessity our first step would be the need to resurrect visas and abandon the automatic right of permanent entry. While building tradesmen, doctors and dentists etc would be welcomed we could not cope with a huge influx.
If this sounds excessive then not so. It strikes me as inevitable. We need to start planning for it now, or, as Jacinda would say, have a conversation about it.
A final comment. I refer only to Australia. The flight from intolerable heat level nations to cooler locations will affect all countries.