Tampa crisis highlights lack of policy direction (SEPT)

4 September 2001

Media Releases 2001

The Tampa crisis underscores the lack of clear policy direction of all political parties, according to Sustainable Population Australia (SPA).

SPA says that through all the recent controversy the environmental consequences of immigration and influx of asylum seekers have barely rated a mention.

National President of SPA, Dr Harry Cohen, says both major parties when in Government have failed to introduce a population policy despite the recommendations of numerous high level reports.

“We are not living sustainably with the population we already have,” says Dr Cohen.

“Australia feeds 60 million people, one third domestically and two-thirds in other countries,” he says. “We only do this, however, by using vast energy subsidies from fossil fuels, with massive soil loss to erosion and salinisation, and with pollution of the majority of our rivers.

“Some scientists predict that, without adequate resources to reverse and remediate this situation, we may not have enough food to feed even ourselves in 25 years.”

Dr Cohen says that Australia’s response to refugees and asylum seekers must be set in this context.

“There are 23.5 million refugees worldwide today. It is clear we cannot significantly reduce the number of refugees by immigration to Australia. To attempt to do so would render any move to sustainability useless.

“We must limit our own population growth, and that means immigration, until we have achieved sustainability. We must also set about changing our profligate, resource consuming life-style.”

Dr Cohen says that Australia, in first setting its own environmental house in order, should not do so in isolation from the rest of the world.

“Rather, we must share our experiences, technologies, institutional and social experiments with other countries as we seek a path to a sustainable future. We must reduce the immigrant intake, but, within the smaller intake, give priority to refugees.

“Most important, we must substantially increase our foreign aid, directing that aid toward the causes of people becoming refugees. For instance, one factor that is driving the tribal strife that generates refugee movements is the growing disparity between available resources and expanding human populations.

“More of our foreign aid must therefore go to family planning and reproductive health in such countries,” Dr Cohen concluded.

Further information:

Dr Harry Cohen, Ph(h): 08 9386 5268 Ph(mobile): 0407 426 987 E:president@population.org.au

Jenny Goldie (SPA National Director) Ph: 02 6235 5488 E: info@population.org.au


Media Releases 2001
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