Stokes right to call for a population policy
Sustainable Population Australia (SPA) has welcomed the call by NSW Planning Minister Rob Stokes for a policy on people: “how many we can expect, where we want them to live and what their needs and attributes might be.”
SPA National President, Ms Jenny Goldie says the time for a population policy is long overdue.
“There has been a groundswell of support for one in opinion polls and letters to editors,” says Ms Goldie. “Successive governments have ignored various inquiries recommending such a policy.
“An independent scientific body should address the question of how many people the country can sustain at what standard of living.
“State of Environment reports indicate we are not living sustainably at current standards of living and use of technology. More people will simply mean more and more rapid environmental decline,” says Ms Goldie.
“We are producing too many wastes, not least carbon dioxide, the main culprit behind climate change. Reducing such emissions will require a radical shift in behaviour and use of energy, including a wholesale move away from fossil fuels.
“A population policy has to take such factors into account, and go way beyond how much space we have and any economic benefits or costs of a bigger population. We have to address the resource in least supply – water – and determine how much of that we will have under climate change.
“Ultimately, it is an ecological issue, remembering that we have to preserve the habitats of other species. If we replace all the forests along the coastal fringe from Cairns to Melbourne with suburbia, the loss will be immense, not just for other species but for ourselves.”
Ms Goldie says Minister Stokes knows all too well that the federal government reaps the benefits (in taxes) while the States pick up the costs of immigration-fuelled population growth.
“The States do not get any compensation for the annual influx of tens of thousands of immigrants,” says Ms Goldie. “Public infrastructure for each new person is at least $100,000 be they immigrant or native born. These costs are largely borne by the States.
“In the absence of a population policy, immigration policy has become the de facto one.”