SPA rejects racism. Item 5 of our aims and objectives is: To advocate low immigration rates while rejecting any selection of immigrants based on race, ethnicity or religion.
SPA’s objective is to ensure that the size and growth of Australia’s population is ecologically sustainable. SPA is unconcerned with the racial mix of that population or the racial mix of those coming to Australia. SPA seeks only to ensure that our population size rapidly stabilises and remains stable or even gradually contracts thereafter. This is an essential requirement for an environmentally sustainable future.
Sustainable Population Australia is aware that population sustainability can be a difficult and controversial issue to discuss. Calls to limit migration are sometimes labelled ‘racist’, ‘xenophobic’ or ‘selfish’. Calls to increase foreign aid for family planning and reproductive health programs are claimed to be ‘neo-colonial’ or ‘blaming the global south’ for ‘overconsumption in the global north
SPA believes that the silencing of population debate via accusations of racism does a serious disservice both to the environment and to the world’s poorest people, particularly women living in the global South. There can be no sustainable future without population stabilisation. There can be no end to poverty so long as population growth outpaces provision of services and jobs, bequeathing each more numerous generation with less land and water per person.
SPA believes an open and respectful conversation is the best way to explore the concerns expressed about racism and to untangle the multiple issues, and sometimes the confusions and misinformation, that underpin them.
In relation to neo-colonialism, one of the direct consequences of high immigration to Australia has been the on-going marginalization of Australia’s First Nations people. Initially decimated by the original European settlement, First Nations people may risk being further marginalised, and their lands (country) increasingly degraded, due to continued rapid growth of the non-Aboriginal population.
The media often falsely imply that anyone wanting to reduce the level of immigration is somehow yearning for a return to the old ‘White Australia’ policy. Equally erroneously, calls for lower immigration are portrayed as anti-refugee. In fact, only about one-tenth of net migration to Australia consists of refugees and asylum seekers. We hold the view that Australia can readily increase our humanitarian refugee intake to around 20,000 as part of an overall reduced annual migrant intake.
SPA seeks to end population growth and keep Australia’s population well within ecologically sustainable limits. We advocate lower immigration because Australia’s recent immigration rate has been much too high to allow population stabilisation.
SPA seeks to influence the number of migrants only, not the racial, religious or ethnic composition of the migrant intake. SPA’s focus is on changing the immigration policy settings that contribute to population growth. In particular, we call for an end to population policies that serve the narrow economic interests of big business, which maintains a strong lobbying pressure on Federal population policy.
SPA holds no view on racial composition of Australia’s population nor the proportion of the next generation that should be Australian-born or immigrant. Whether a sustainable population is achieved through a near-replacement birth rate and near-zero net immigration, or a lower birth rate and correspondingly more immigrants, is not relevant to sustainability. It is the total number of people occupying the Australian landscape that matters.
It is incorrect to assume that those who advocate lower immigration are anti-migration or anti-migrant. SPA is neither. SPA does not engage in the vilification of migrants and condemns those who do. SPA takes issue with policies not people.
Low immigration is pro-immigrant, allowing greater access to good quality jobs. Employment systems should not facilitate or tolerate the exploitation of migrants, which is inevitable if immigration numbers are higher than the labour market can absorb without eroding terms of employment. In fact, it is worse to remain silent on our current migration policy for fear of being racist. To do so is to be complicit with a policy that encourages the large-scale exploitation of the migrants who come to Australia while doing nothing for the vast majority of the world’s poor who do not have the opportunity or means to migrate to Australia.
Moreover, it is unethical for a rich nation such as Australia to overtly plunder the best and the brightest from developing nations, to compensate for the funding failures of our own post-school education system.
Similarly, those who label as neo-colonial the goal of seeking universal access to voluntary, well-funded family planning and reproductive health programs, are clearly unaware of the great unmet need for such programs, including in much of the developing world where many women are calling out for this. In Australia, about one woman dies in childbirth or from pregnancy-related causes for every 17,000 live births. In the Central African Republic one women dies per 113 births. Across all ‘least developed countries’ it is one in 230. Yet funding for reproductive health services withered since the 1990s under accusations of neo-colonialism. Such accusers do a great disservice to the poor.
It is true there are some extreme white supremacist groups who use environmental rhetoric to shore up their racist worldview. SPA unequivocally condemns such people and their targeting and scapegoating of migrants. Attempts to conflate such extremist positions with the views of SPA are either ill-informed or deliberately mischievous. SPA does not support or align itself with any groups or individuals advocating racially-based selection of immigrants. That is not what SPA is about.
SPA aims to achieve an ecologically sustainable society based on democracy and fairness rather than intolerance and hate. We believe in fostering an ongoing conversation with diverse participants about the important role of population size in reaching that goal.
Our ‘Diversity and Social Inclusion’ page includes more information on the conversations that SPA has facilitated with migrants, First Nations custodians and women from the global south.