Letters to the editor

Letters to the editor from SPA members, supporters and others are a rich source of community insights and concerns about population issues. The SPA web site maintains an archive of published letters.

26 December 2020

A bigger Australia won’t solve ageing bulge (2)

Having fewer babies would be the best gift Australians could give their children. Demographers Peter McDonald and Liz Allen are wrong to say that low fertility shrinks the workforce (“Fertility policy ‘to drive Big Australia’, 23/12). Countries with low fertility don’t have fewer workers, they merely have fewer people unemployed. Countries with rapidly growing working age populations — such as Australia — have greater income inequality, as workers compete for scarce jobs. Economic models assume that the extra labour force creates their own jobs. This is far from reality, where even the gig economy (a last resort for many) is collapsing under the weight of job-seekers. And nobody enjoys the traffic jams, unaffordable housing and environmental destruction that comes with “Big Australia”. They tolerate this only because of the scare campaign about an ageing population, which is divorced from real-world experience.

Jane 0'Sullivan The Australian

24 December 2020

Population cap

Well said, Bob Couch (“Steady numbers”, The Advertiser, Monday).

I agree the best thing we need for the future of SA is strict population control.

One of the few good things that have come out of the coronavirus pandemic is the fact that we have not significantly increased our population. Let this be a lesson well learnt.

Unless the human species stops increasing, we are surely on the slippery slope to extinction.

Christine Pierson The Adelaide Advertiser

21 December 2020

Steady numbers

It is predictable that Property Council of Australia SA executive director Daniel Gannon calls increasing population growth in the state “promising news” (“SA brain drain in reverse”, The Advertiser, Thursday).

Well, you would expect him to say that, as he represents the property industry, which will not be happy until there are wall to wall buildings from Port Wakefield to Victor Harbor.

COVID-19 has given us a much-needed respite from the previous high levels of population growth in Australia and SA.

Australia’s population growth rate for the quarter ended June 30, at 0.1 per cent, was the slowest since quarterly population estimates began in June 1981.

This has meant reduced pressure on water supplies, roads, schools, hospitals, energy sources and many other items required for modern living.

It has also meant less Australian emissions generated and less impact on habitat for our flora and fauna. And there has been less competition for scarce jobs and housing.

Part of the reason Australia has been able to achieve such relative success fighting COVID, is our relatively low and spread out population.

Let us keep it that way.

Bob Couch The Adelaide Advertiser

27 November 2020

Theft of skills is not a good migration policy

Labor Party spokeswoman Clare O’Neil wants the best engineers and IT experts and the smartest data analysts to settle in Australia on a permanent basis (‘‘Migration should focus on skilled professionals: Labor’’, 25/11).

These people were trained at considerable cost by their own countries. Bluntly speaking, to snatch them from their countries is simply theft of skills. To steal these people from developing and emerging countries is even more appalling. How can these countries move forward when their brightest and best migrate to the West?

There is plenty of talent in Australia already, talent that is waiting to be furthered, promoted and optimised via a broad range of opportunities.

If Australia wants to be the leader of the pack, then we have to invest in education and training programs, backed up by opportunities for innovation and employment.

That would also be environmentally much more efficient by keeping population numbers in check.

Margit Alm Australian Financial Review

5 November 2020

More than the economy

Re ‘‘Melbourne exodus a huge hit to economy’’ (The Age, 3/11). But a larger economy does not make a more desirable city. Are we aiming to be like Beijing or Los Angeles?

Ask Melburnians (not the property industry) what factors would indicate a better city. Ask those who are trying to buy a home, are delayed in traffic, or seeking peace in a parkland, whether they want Melbourne or its economy to get bigger. Let us have an intelligent debate about the measures of a city’s success and move on from the lazy measure of the size of its economy.

Ian Penrose The Age

2 November 2020

Population debate, difficult but necessary

Bring on a “civilised discussion about population” but Elizabeth Farrelly’s contribution to it underwhelms (“Eight billion humans can’t all be wrong, but we do need a civilised discussion about population”, October 31-November 1). Farrelly recognises the inevitably awful outcomes of overpopulation – “famine, disease, war” – but sets up a straw man when she insists that action to avert it, or even discussing averting it, is dangerous moral territory. She seems to suggest that there is no middle ground between forced sterilisations, on one hand, and “the old wealth-and-education argument” on the other. The evidence is clear that education alone does not drive rapid change in family size, and poverty reduction is near impossible in rapidly growing populations. Yet voluntary family planning programs, that openly advocate small families to slow population growth, have worked even in poor and poorly educated communities. Farrelly says anyone who wants to limit Australia’s population growth can be seen as xenophobic. But we are doing high-fertility countries a huge disservice by falsely claiming economic benefits from population growth, particularly by insisting (as Farrelly rightly dismisses) that an “ageing population spells economic disaster”. The report cited by Farrelly thoroughly debunks the latter myth. Yet countries like Tanzania and Iran are withdrawing women’s access to contraception precisely because they believe what developed countries (more precisely, the vested interests within developed countries) are saying about a “birth dearth”. The moral hazard sits squarely on the other foot.

Jane O'Sullivan Sydney Morning Herald

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