MR: population group critical of ABS projections
The population environment advocacy group, Sustainable Population Australia (SPA), has called upon the Australian Bureau of Statistics to expand its recent population projections to include a scenario based upon Australia’s long-term average Net Overseas Migration (NOM).
SPA’s NSW President, Mr Kris Spike says that the three projections offered by the ABS were based upon very high levels of NOM by historical standards. The resulting projections ranged from a low of 42.4 million by 2101 to a high of 70.1 million.
Mr Spike says he is concerned the projections paint a picture of high population growth as being inevitable.
“This is precisely the strategy used by groups pushing for a rapid expansion of Australia’s population. It promotes the fallacy that we have no choice but to get radically bigger thereby stifling debate on the issue,” says Mr Spike.
“We aren’t suggesting the ABS has any bias towards high population growth but it does seem odd that they did not offer a projection based upon our average NOM (around 100,000) that would see Australia’s population levelling off at a more sustainable number.”
Currently Australia’s immigration intake is set by Cabinet with input from a variety of sources. Mr Spike says that we should seriously consider changing to a system where the number is determined by an independent board, similar to the way in which interest rates are set by Reserve Bank board members, removed from the influence of party politics.
“At the moment the immigration intake is being set by politicians who belong to parties that receive huge donations from cashed-up developers and other vested interest groups,” he says.
The impact of Australia’s population doubling or trebling in the course of this century has raised concern in the past. Kevin Rudd’s enthusiasm for a “big Australia” drew criticism from many quarters back in 2009. The latest upwardly revised projections seem to have caused far less consternation.
“We place great importance upon stress-testing our banks to ensure they can handle global economic shocks. Shouldn’t we also stress test our continent to see how it would cope with 70 million people during periods of extended drought?”
Sydney and Melbourne are forecast to be over 8 million by 2061 with both cities continuing to be the favoured destination for future migrants. SPA believes this level of growth would seriously worsen housing affordability, congestion and place great stress on the surrounding natural environment.
For further comment or interview call Kris Spike 0457 079 617