Sustainable Population Australia (SPA) has called on the new Albanese government to formulate a population policy for Australia of which immigration would just be a part, in such a manner that it will ensure a beneficial environment for all in this country’s future.
SPA national president Ms Jenny Goldie says for too long immigration policy has been the de facto population policy even though it is only part of the population picture.
“We need to determine how many people we want in this country; whether we want to continue growing our numbers inexorably or slow the growth and eventually stabilise,” says Ms Goldie.
“Immigration is a mere sub-set of population growth, albeit a large one until Covid closed our borders. Natural increase is the other component. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, natural increase (births minus deaths) was 136,200 people in the year ending September 30, 2021, a slight increase on the previous year.
“Net migration went negative because of Covid-induced border closures but borders are now re-opening. Many business owners with a vested interest in rapid population growth are calling for the excessive pre-Covid levels of immigration to be restored.
“This must not happen for many reasons,” says Ms Goldie. “Every recent state of the environment report cites population growth as a driver of environmental decline. For instance, urban sprawl encroaches on woodlands and forests, the habitats of other species. Each extra Australian imposes an ecological footprint of about six hectares.
“Unemployment is low (3.9%), largely because borders have been closed, not because of any government policy. It has given workers in some sectors the opportunity to press for high wages which have stagnated for nearly a decade.
“Because of government policy, housing prices have risen in the past couple of years such that owning a home is no longer an option for the ordinary worker. Population growth was not the culprit recently but, if mass immigration is restored, housing prices are likely to rise even further because of higher demand.”
Ms Goldie called on the incoming Environment Minister to table the most recent State of Environment- Australia report that was suppressed by former Environment Minister Sussan Ley.
“We may assume the five yearly report showed further environment decline. Ever more people are not going to help the situation. A population policy has to be determined in the context of environmental carrying capacity. Let’s have one.”