The businessman chose the NSW-based Salvation Army Red Shield Appeal in March as the platform to announce the fact that he’d registered ‘The Dick Smith Party’ as a business name and would be seeking support from members of the Sustainable Population Party.
Originally rising to prominence through his outdoor adventures, Smith – an avid Wild reader – claims his only qualification as the Baden-Powell Scout Award, gained after many years in the scouting movement during the late 50s and early 60s. While he may have gained some notoriety for his achievements flying helicopters and balloons, Smith initially gained a taste for adventure in bushwalking, canyoning, climbing and skiing.
“Just like Wild‘s founding editor, Chris Baxter, I like to encourage responsible risk taking as a worthwhile pursuit for everyone, but especially for young people,” he said.
It is this attitude that has prompted Smith to begin writing a book on the 50-year history of climbing Balls Pyramid – an activity that is currently prohibited by the NSW government. The book is due to be released later this year.
Yet, despite his views on a responsible risk taking, Smith’s motivations for launching his own political party are rooted in his concerns regarding unsustainable population growth in Australia. These concerns arise, he said, as a result of an irresponsible economic system, leading him to the conclusion that “capitalism needs to be adjusted”.
“Ponzi schemes are illegal in Australia, yet that is exactly what the current system of capitalism is,” he said. “And it’s occurred because we as a society can’t put aside enough money for retirement, so we need more tax payers.”
Smith believes that we’re in danger of living “like locusts” in the sense that the global population will soon reach “plague proportions before it crashes downwards”.
In order to solve the problem, Smith advocates addressing the cause of the issue.
“I don’t consider myself an extremist on any issue; even in this matter all I think we need to do is find the correct point of balance. I’m not suggesting we consider population control, but perhaps lowering immigration rates from 250,000 per annum to 75,000. Instead of growth in quantity we should seek growth in quality; growth in efficiencies, not in consumption.”
Smith cited a recent plan tabled by the NSW government to fund a high-rise school in Parramatta as the perfect example of how growth is going to start having an impact on all of Australians.
“We’re already beginning to organise ourselves more like termites than a free society, and people are soon going to have to decide what kind of future they want,” he said. “I mean, Australians spend millions a year extra in shelling out for free range eggs, but soon we may not even have free range children.”