Australia’s current population growth rate is currently higher than India, Vietnam, China, Indonesia and pretty much every country in our region. Some of this is from births (around 28%) and the rest from immigration policy (72%). Every other developed nation (Besides the USA) have close to zero growth rate for their populations with most of them sitting in negative territory. So the first question one must ask is how, if our economy depends on population growth to survive can countries like Germany be decreasing their population and still gaining in over all economic wealth?
Then, if we are actively seeking to expand our population but job forecasts are saying there will simply not be enough work for all the new Australians do we continue to enact policy that has exponential growth? Well, when you think of it, when is it it in th interests of big business to have high or full employment? And do they benefit at all from high employment levels? Simple answer is no they do not benefit and no its not in their interest. High employment means higher wages for average workers and less profit for shareholders(see mindless arseholes who don’t give a fuck about where their money goes as along as they make more) and the board members (see shareholders). So that being the case a ‘Big Australia’ suits the very people who own Big Australia Inc, big business!
If Australia’s population were to get to around 38-40 million by 2050 we would need a massive investment in infrastructure (trains, houses, agriculture, water etc) that would require hundreds of billions in government and private investment. Given the current and past levels of government investment in any infrastructure you would have to seriously question whether any government (see shareholders) is capable of delivering on even 10% of future demands.
So what do we need to consider when thinking about population and population policy. Firstly the Environment is probably the most important factor as we can only exist within our means. Many studies have concluded that an optimum population for Australia to have to keep a decent and stable population is around 10-15 million people with some going as low as 3-5 million. Given that we are around 22 million now and 500,000+ more every year this may seem like a hard target to hit. But it is possible to reduce population, increase productivity and care for the land you live in. Before we get into that though we need to establish why our population is growing and how we can reduce it.
Firstly our birth rate is increasing, although it appears kind of high it is really not the main factor behind our population growth but we could easily remove stupid incentives like the ‘Baby Bonus’ and replace them with better schemes like ‘Paid Maternity Leave’ to make it easier to enable working women to better balance career and children. Secondly, its immigration, and no I am not talking about boat people, they make up less that 1% of immigrants coming to Australia but for some bizarre reason (see xenophobia) they attract an endless amount of political and media attention. We could simply work out a more selective immigration system that is open to skilled migrants (no and not poached doctors from the 3rd world or hairdressers) and increase our intake of refugees by around 150% and still maintain a balanced and reasonable popualtion.
It is good to see this being discussed in the media now but the problem is the issue of immigration is like meth for xenophobic voters (see Howards Battlers) who see any talk of population as a chance to let the world know who they hate. This discussion is simply too important to see hijacked by idiots, we need to see some rational discussion from all sides of politics, industry and the environment.