27 June 2010
by Mark O'Connor, author Overloading Australia
The new PM Julia Gillard's views on population growth were not known till this morning (27 June) when she is reported as rejecting the notion of "Big Australia".
She promises a significant reduction in immigration, and has renamed the Minister for Population Tony Burke (whom Rudd appointed a few months ago in what was probably a piece of window dressing). In future he is to be called " the Minister for Sustainable Population".
Members of Sustainable Population Australia remain cautious, with comments on Australia's on-line population forum including "At last a Prime minister who can read opinion polls" and "She talks the talk. It won't be long until we see whether she can walk the walk..." and "Might be rhetoric, but good to see some change in the stance."
However it is already clear (see the Age article below) that Julia Gillard is aware of public resistance to population growth; and we will learn in time if she is genuinely sympathetic to the public mood.
In her ability to "read the polls" Julia seems ahead of some of the commentators, who continue to deny that Rudd's "big Australia" rhetoric was a reason the public turned against him so decisively. Robert Boni comments on population forum:I cannot believe that the mass media analysis on Kevin Rudd's popularity free fall in the last couple of months, have all skipped population as a reason, and blamed his problems on an array of other issues. It's like some sort of conspiracy. It is unbelievable that his attitude on population had nothing to do with his popularity problems.
Bob Carr, the former NSW Premier, explodes the myth that Australia is an empty land just waiting to be filled with people, at the launch of the new book "Overloading Australia" by Mark O'Connor and William Lines.
In fact no other mistake of Rudd's fits so well with the timing of his abrupt fall in the polls. In the last two weeks Dick Smith has generously sent to every state and federal MP and to every mayor in Australia a copy of Overloading Australia with his recommendation that they read it. The copies were from the 3rd edition, labelled "Update for politicians". Its revised preface begins with a comment on this precise point:In October 2009 Kerry O’Brien, the presenter of ABC TV’s 7.30 Report, asked what seemed an innocent question of prime minister Kevin Rudd. Referring to the Third Intergenerational Report, he asked Mr Rudd for his views on ‘projected startling new figures for Australia's population growth . . . a 60 per cent increase over the next four decades’.
The decline in Mr Rudd’s personal popularity can be tracked from the moment he gave his answer. His predecessor, John Howard, was always careful to sound as if he had been reluctant to increase immigration, but Mr Rudd forgot a basic rule of spin-doctoring never take responsibility for population growth, and never give your party a higher profile on this issue than its opponents.
His reply was: ‘Well first of all Kerry, let me just say: I actually believe in a big Australia. I make no apology for that. I actually think it's good news that our population is growing.’
People were furious. Bloggers asked, how could Rudd have concealed, until elected, his intention to give away shares in Australia on so vast a scale? Indeed the numbers were astonishing. Rudd had boosted the baby bonus and more than doubled net migration. By June 2009, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Australia was growing at 2.1% a year, a rate which, if continued, would double the population every 34 years.
... three months later he was back on the 7.30 Report trying to sing a different tune. Population growth? "I don't have a view on that, to be quite honest. This is simply the reality we are now dealing with". Rudd claimed to be a mere manager of what he said he couldn’t control and had no opinion on!
But the ice was melting at the ABC. After many years of assuming Australia’s bizarrely high population growth was good, the 7.30 Report ran a series of five programs asking if it was wise or inevitable. And legendary philanthropist and Australian of the Year, Dick Smith took up the cause, humorously calling one of his talks Population - I Do Have a View On That, To Be Quite Honest.
Rudd had been caught out by the same thing that forced the ABC to change: the democratization of the Internet. ...
Environmentalist and Author, of Overloading Australia, Mark O'Connor on ABC
Media coverage this morning of Julia Gillard's remarks on population was gratifying, yet still oddly blinkered. No one thought to seek a comment from the groups whose efforts had turned around the public debate. Among those omitted from the media coverage were: Sustainable Population Australia (www.population.org.au), Dick Smith, the many academics or CSIRO researchers like Bob Birrell, Katharine Betts, Barney Foran.... (the list is long) who have repeatedly found the courage to question population growth, the economists or economics journalists Richard Denniss, Clive Hamilton, Doug Cocks, Ross Gittins and Tim Colebatch who have helped scotch the belief that population growth is good, and William Bourke the convenor of the newly forming Stable Population Party of Australia (www.populationparty.com). They thus missed the story of how public opinion has begun to make headway against the spin and the "campaign donations" with which the growth lobby had sought to control the population policies of the two major parties.
The Age article, below, does note that:The [Third Inter-generational] report caused widespread unease about whether big cities, now straining under inadequate infrastructure, could cope.
Then prime minister Kevin Rudd backed away from his earlier comment that he favoured a ''big Australia'' by appointing Tony Burke as Population Minister to develop a strategy.
Much less satisfactory was the ABC/AAP story. It sought comment only from two obvious fronts for the growth lobby: Aaron Gadiel's absurdly named "Urban Taskforce" which represents a group of Australia's richest developers and the Lowy Institute which claimed, at variance with more independent polls, that "that almost three-quarters of Australians want to see the country's population grow".
It seems that Julia Gillard may be more aware of the population issue and better at reading the polls than some political commentators.
» » » » [Australian Poet Email List]
Gillard rejects 'big Australia'
June 27, 2010
Josh Gordon, The Age
PRIME Minister Julia Gillard has declared she does not believe in a ''big Australia'', signalling a major shift in policy on the nation's burgeoning population growth.
In her first significant policy break from the Rudd-era, Ms Gillard said the nation should not ''hurtle down the track towards a big population''.
''I don't support the idea of a big Australia with arbitrary targets of, say, a 40 million-strong Australia or a 36 million-strong Australia. We need to stop, take a breath and develop policies for a sustainable Australia.
''I support a population that our environment, our water, our soil, our roads and freeways, our busses, our trains and our services can sustain.''
Australia's growing population has become a politically sensitive issue, and Ms Gillard pointedly targeted her comments to marginal voters in outer suburban seats.
''If you spoke to the people of Western Sydney, for example, about a big Australia,'' she said, ''they would laugh at you and ask you a very simple question: where will these 40 million people go?''
Treasury's Intergenerational Report earlier this year predicted Australia's population would rise from about 22 million to 35.9 million in 2050 if current trends in overseas migration and fertility continued, with immigration by far the biggest contributor. Melbourne was predicted to hit 7 million people, and Sydney would grow to more than 7.5 million.
The report caused widespread unease about whether big cities, now straining under inadequate infrastructure, could cope.
Then prime minister Kevin Rudd backed away from his earlier comment that he favoured a ''big Australia'' by appointing Tony Burke as Population Minister to develop a strategy.
Ms Gillard said Mr Burke's job description would now change to ''send a very clear message about this new direction''. He would now be known as the Minister for Sustainable Population.
Although Ms Gillard stressed her belief that population growth should be limited was ''not about bringing down the shutters in immigration'', any move to lower current rates would involve taking in significantly fewer immigrants.
Last year, overseas migration added almost 300,000 people - about double the rate of natural increase accounted for by births and deaths.
Australia's population has been growing faster than some developing countries, including the Philippines, Malaysia, India, Indonesia and Vietnam.
''It is a debate about planning affected by many factors, water supply, open space, infrastructure, ensuring the appropriate tax base to support our ageing population … the need for skills and the need to preserve a good quality of life,'' the new PM said.
The opposition has no clear policy on immigration levels, but immigration spokesman Scott Morrison has suggested 300,000 a year is too high. It has also tried to link the population debate to a rise in the number of boats carrying asylum seekers. Ms Gillard will face new scrutiny over the government's policies after another boatload was intercepted near Christmas Island last night. Ninety-six asylum seekers and three crew were aboard.
Earlier, Ms Gillard suggested the government could pursue different immigration policies for different parts of the country.
''Australia has this very difficult problem - parts of Australia are desperate for workers, but other parts are desperate for jobs.
''Having a smart and sustainable population, coupled with the right skills strategy, will help improve this imbalance.''
Any move to cut significantly Australia's migration intake would anger business groups, which support strong population growth to keep the economy growing and fix skills shortages.
» » » » [The Age]
Gillard shuts door on 'big Australia'
Prime Minister Julia Gillard is breaking free from one of her predecessor's main policy stances by announcing she is not interested in a "big Australia".
Former prime minister Kevin Rudd was in favour of population growth, with his government predicting it to hit around 36 million by 2050, largely through immigration.
But Ms Gillard has indicated she will be putting the brakes on immigration in order to develop a more sustainable nation.
"Australia should not hurtle down the track towards a big population," she told Fairfax.
"I don't support the idea of a big Australia with arbitrary targets of, say, a 40 million-strong Australia or a 36 million-strong Australia. We need to stop, take a breath and develop policies for a sustainable Australia.
"I support a population that our environment, our water, our soil, our roads and freeways, our busses, our trains and our services can sustain."
But Ms Gillard says that does not mean putting a stop to immigration all together.
"I don't want business to be held back because they couldn't find the right workers," she said.
"That's why skilled migration is so important. But also I don't want areas of Australia with 25 per cent youth unemployment because there are no jobs," she said.
Mr Rudd installed Tony Burke as the Minister for Population, but in one of her first moves as Prime Minister, Ms Gillard has changed his job description to Minister for Sustainable Population.
Mr Burke will continue to develop a national population strategy which is due to be released next year.
Ms Gillard says the change sends a clear message about the new direction the Government is taking.
Families Minister Jenny Macklin told Channel Ten that Australia's population growth has to reflect the country's economic needs.
"When we have areas in Australia with 25 per cent youth unemployment we should be getting in there doing everything possible to get those young people skilled up and into the jobs that are available," she said.
"Making sure that where we have serious congestion in our cities that we do something about it."
But Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has told ABC1's Insiders that Ms Gillard cannot be believed.
"When the Coalition said a few months ago that the population had to be sustainable we were pilloried up hill and down dale by Julia Gillard," he said.
"I think what we're also going to see from Julia Gillard is an attempt on all the controversial issues where the Opposition is making the running, to adopt a kind of 'me too' strategy."
Australian businessman Dick Smith has been a vocal advocate for a more sustainable approach to population growth and has applauded Ms Gillard's announcement.
But he acknowledges it will not be welcomed by everyone.
"The business community, my wealthy mates are completely addicted to growth because of greed," he said.
"So they're going to fight her every inch of the way. They just want growth, growth, growth, even though it's obvious that it's not sustainable.
"I think she's a brave lady, I reckon she will stand up to them."
But an urban planning group is trying to convince Ms Gillard of the benefits of a big population.
Urban Taskforce Australia chief executive Aaron Gadiel says a large population increases the tax base to fund improvements to infrastructure and welfare services.
"We shouldn't be trying to fight it, what we should be trying to do is ensuring that we've got the investment and infrastructure that makes that process easier to manage," he said.
"I think people should be focussing on how much state, federal and local governments have been investing in urban infrastructure to help absorb population growth."
A survey earlier in the year by the Lowy Institute found that almost three-quarters of Australians want to see the country's population grow, but not by too much.
The Lowy Institute surveyed more than 1,000 people and found that while there was support for increased immigration, Australians were not quite prepared to embrace the Government's predicted 36 million.
The poll showed 72 per cent of people supported a rise in Australia's population, but 69 per cent wanted it to remain below 30 million people.
New poll results
Meanwhile, a new Galaxy poll published today shows voters believe Ms Gillard will give Labor a better chance of winning the Federal Election than Mr Rudd, although they do not support the way she came to power.
Voters who were polled still believe Mr Rudd should be given a job on the frontbench.
The poll puts Labor in an election-winning position, jumping ahead of the Coalition by two percentage points on a two-party preferred basis, leading 52 per cent to 48 per cent.
A Herald/Nielson poll released yesterday showed Labor's primary vote climbing to 47 per cent, while support for the Coalition fell 1 point to 42 per cent.
However Mr Abbott earlier dismissed the figures and said he was not worried.
"Right now the new Prime Minister is enjoying a predictable bounce in the polls that was to be expected the Government has tried to fix the headlines," he said.
"But they can't fix the problems and the headlines won't stay fixed unless they fix the problem."
The latest poll has indicated that most of all voters just want the Government to get on with the job of running the country and are urging Ms Gillard to fix the mining tax debacle, stop wasting money and sort out the health system.
Voters insist Ms Gillard must move quickly to settle the mining tax issue, with 30 per cent of poll respondents saying it should be her first priority and 24 per cent saying she should fast-track health and hospital reforms.
Her third priority should be to get the Budget back into the black, they say.
Only 11 per cent of the 800 voters polled believe Ms Gillard should revive the emissions trading scheme to tackle climate change and 13 per cent feel she should get tougher on asylum seekers.
Labor's primary support has locked in at four points higher than after the Budget, on 41 per cent, but the Coalition has dropped only one point to 42 per cent and that loss has been at the expense of the minor partner, the National Party
» » » » [Australian Broadcasting]
Population explosion threatens to trap Africa in cycle of poverty
Xan Rice in Kampala
The Guardian, Friday 25 August 2006
There are 27.7 million people in Uganda. But by 2025 the population will almost double to 56 million, close to that of Britain, which has a similar land mass. In 44 years its population will have grown by nearly as much as China's.
"You look at these numbers and think 'that's impossible'," said Carl Haub, senior demographer at the US-based Population Reference Bureau, whose latest global projections show Uganda as the fastest growing country in the world. Midway through the 21st century Uganda will be the world's 12th most populous country with 130 million people - more than Russia or Japan.
Population explosion: Africa is sitting on a time bomb
Publication date: Wednesday, 31st March, 2010
By Peter Mulira, New Vision
WITH the population of Africa predicted to double within the next 30 years, the economic future of its people is set to be very bleak unless something is done to combat the uncontrolled growth rate.
As has been said by one population expert, “High rates of population growth create unemployment faster than jobs, increase the mouths to be fed faster than the production of rice paddies, squatters faster than people housed in modern facilities, excrement faster than sewers can be built.
A population growing faster than the output of modern goods and services not only frustrates development goals; it undermines the credibility of promises made in the name of development and the political will to pay the price of progress.”
Thou Shalt Not Breed: Anglicans
by Josh Gordon, The Age, Australia,
May 9, 2010
THE Anglican Church wants Australians to have fewer children and has urged the federal government to scrap the baby bonus and cut immigration.
Wading into the population debate, the General Synod of the Anglican Church has warned that current rates of population growth are unsustainable and potentially out of step with church doctrine - including the eighth commandment, ''Thou shall not steal''.
In a significant intervention, the Anglican Public Affairs Commission has warned concerned Christians that remaining silent ''is little different from supporting further overpopulation and ecological degradation''.
Human race 'will be extinct within 100 years', claims leading scientist
By Niall Firth, Daily MailUK
Last updated at 1:59 AM on 19th June 2010
As the scientist who helped eradicate smallpox he certainly know a thing or two about extinction.
And now Professor Frank Fenner, emeritus professor of microbiology at the Australian National University, has predicted that the human race will be extinct within the next 100 years.
He has claimed that the human race will be unable to survive a population explosion and 'unbridled consumption.’
Fenner told The Australian newspaper that 'homo sapiens will become extinct, perhaps within 100 years.'
'A lot of other animals will, too,' he added.
Michael C. Ruppert: DieOff & the End of Economic & Population Growth:
Anthony Kaufman, Wall Street Journal
November 04, 2009
The Wall Street Journal sat down with Michael Ruppert to discuss oil, Wall Street and the “imminent collapse of human industrialized civilization.”:“It is not possible to continue infinite consumption and infinite population growth on a finite planet. It is therefore crucial that human beings begin to openly and honestly discuss the issue of population and commit to reducing it through means that are as humane as possible lest through our resistance to doing so, nature takes the matter into its hands and reduces population in ways that are horrific and unimaginable. Unless a fundamental change is made-and quickly-the only available option is collapse and implosion; the bursting of the human population bubble; or, as people in the Peak Oil movement call it-the Dieoff.”
» » » » [Excerpts: Mencken – Licenced to Breed DieOff – Monkeylaw Prophets]
Excerpts from Concourt 23-10: 1st Amicus Curiae: Evidentiary Documents: as quoted in: » » Ubuntu Brief of Amicus Curiae Lara Johnstone, Bushido Dischordian Futilitarian, In Support Of: Radical Honesty Common Sense Population Policy Social Contract Interpretations of Promotion of National Unity & Reconciliation Act, 34 of 1995 » » A.8: Population Policy Common Sense: Exponential Functions, Carrying Capacity Limits & the Laws of Sustainability (PDF)