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.
Building a fair society
Housing policy is a mess but it mostly comes down to supply and demand (“‘Hold on to that hatred’: Boomers aren’t to blame for Australia’s property mismatch”, June 20). Negative gearing has to go to help potential owners enter the market, rather than investors. And no doubt many empty nesters could convert their homes into dual occupancy. However, the more people there are, the more demand for housing.
In 2018, Australia’s population grew by 404,000. At an average household of 2.7 people, that equates to a need for nearly 150,000 new dwellings – just in one year. If we are to solve the housing crisis, addressing the supply side alone is not enough: demand counts too.
Jenny Goldie, Cooma
Congratulations to active Victoria SPA member Jennie Epstein for her published letter in The Age today
This is a good thing
We should be celebrating our near-zero population growth rather than disparaging it (“Population growth drops to lowest rate since WWI”, The Age, 18/6).
The sooner we can stabilise our population, the greater the chance of a sustainable future. Not only does it provide a window of opportunity for our environment to recover, but our economy is doing well, and employment levels and wages are finally increasing.
Jennie Epstein, Little River
The thought of Marie Low (“Australia, we can’t just keep on building outwards forever”, canberratimes.com.au, May 23) having a live mouse in the toe of her boot will stay with me for a long time.
Nevertheless, her sentiments on the need to rein in population growth were admirable.
Similarly, Nicholas Stuart (“When what we “know” turns out to be wrong”, canberratimes.com.au, May 22) questions the long held assumption that we need a “big Australia”. He notes that, with immigration collapsing because of border closures, overall employment has risen.
He rightly acknowledges the contributions that immigration has brought us but now questions whether we need to return to the huge levels of immigration on this fragile land.
There’s a lovely ad on TV about a boy and a koala and the need to “protect all homes”. Yes, we do, koalas’ homes included. We cannot do this, however, under a scenario of endless human population growth. We have to stop somewhere, preferably now. We need to do it for our own sakes before, as Marie Low noted with the mouse plague, we turn on each other.
Equally, we need to stop growing for sake of other species that inhabit this fragile land.
(Property Council of Australia CEO) Ken Morrison (“We need a dose of quarantine to open borders”, April 16) wants our vast number of immigrants, students and tourists back asap.
Never mind that, pre-COVID, our rampant population-fed, greed-and-growth economic model was rapidly destroying the livability of our major cites and, in all respects, was environmentally unsustainable.
Despite his influence, it is just possible that Morrison will be denied his wish. The vast majority of Australians seem not to share his prescription for what is best for them. They have had a whiff of sustainability and like the way it smells!
Since the 1960s, residents of the North Coast/ Sunshine Coast have said they don’t want the area to become like the Gold Coast. This call continues today despite the moving goal posts.
In the 1990s, Maroochy Shire had one of Australia’s highest rates of population growth and many residents called for a population cap. Property developers and Maroochy councillors involved in the industry claimed that this would drive up property prices. Therefore, we got both, almost uncontrolled growth as well as ridiculously high property prices. Some residents marched for ‘no high rise’ and lower densities. Developers, and many councillors, claimed higher densities were needed to prevent urban sprawl and loss of native habitat. Many replied we’d end up with both. We now have higher density infill as well as higher density urban sprawl (including on floodplains). However, ‘local government’ is a creation of state governments and they must comply with state government legislation (including parking regulations) so, it is state governments that drive the population growth and loss of native species.
Is there a solution? No, not with our materialistic society and governments that cling to an economic model that dictates unsustainable constant growth and a distorted distribution of wealth.
The loss of thousands of trees due to massive infrastructure projects as reported in Monday’s Age is yet another reason our high levels of population growth and consumption are unsustainable. Tree planting projects in other places do not compensate for the habitat loss of mature trees.
Our cumulative footprint erases those of many other species, unbalancing ecosystems, which will inevitably lead to our own demise, eventually.