Do we need a population policy?
by John Pratt
From the Australian Bureau of Statistics:
Australia experienced an annual estimated population growth rate of 1.5% for the year ending September 2007, according to figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). The increase of 318,500 people (in the year ending September 2007) saw Australia's population rise to 21,097,000 people. Net overseas migration contributed 179,100 people (56%) to Australia's growth while natural increase (the excess of births over deaths) added 139,400 (44%) to the tally. Nationally, Western Australia recorded the fastest population growth at 2.4%, followed by Queensland and the Northern Territory both recording a growth rate of 2.2%.
Immigration and its effects on Australia
A sustainable Australia:
Bob Carr: “I think people are ready to grasp the argument that the unsustainable growth in population numbers is degrading our planet and that Australia must begin to think of itself as a country with a population problem. Let’s throw away for all time the notion that Australia is an empty space just waiting to be filled up. Our rivers, our soils, our vegetation won’t allow that to happen without an enormous cost to those who come after us.”
Are we eating the future?
David Bowman: “Clearly the human population on the Earth cannot continue to grow in a cancerous-like fashion without destroying our life-support systems. However, I feel that calls for any Australian population policy must recognise that the Australian economy is strongly inter-linked with the global economy. We export food and other primary resources to many other countries. It is by no means certain that controlling the Australian population will necessarily protect and preserve our environment.”
Jack Cardwell: “We can feed 25 million people without irreparable damage to our resources, Such a figure takes into account the fragility of the Australian environment. It also takes into account that we do have very significant areas of reasonably well watered temperate lands. All population growth - or even stationary population - does something to change the environment. We certainly should conserve as much of our unique environment and its fauna and flora as possible. But partially man made environments are not abhorrent, as Europe shows. Nor is man abhorrent. If Australia is to become purely pantheistic and turn its back on the achievements and arts of civilisation, we have much to lose. The shutting of the immigration gates would prevent valuable enrichment of our society and culture and would feed ethnocentric views of our own superiority.”
Des Moore: “Population increases from immigration should, however, continue to be limited in order to maintain social and political stability. A large increase in the rate of immigration from countries with significantly different economic and cultural backgrounds would risk creating the divisiveness which can be seen in many other countries.”
Tim Flannery: “Develop a population policy for Australia based on environmental sustainability.”
Australia is rapidly increasing its population and there seems to be little debate as to what is a sustainable population would be.
The cost of housing is soaring and rents are predicted to rise by fifty percent in the next four years. Most commentators believe this is due to the large number of migrants coming to Australia. There are already water restrictions on many of our major cities and our rivers are running dry, but still we keep the immigrants pouring in. If we are to meet our green house gas commitments we cannot keep on growing our population. It is high time we decided just what is the optimum population level for Australia.