Australia’s humanitarian and migrant intake 2002-03 – Submission by SPA NSW Branch to the Dept. of Immigration, Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs (DIMIA), Jan 2002

30 January 2002

The Director
Economics and Environment Section
PO Box 25, Belconnen ACT 2616

SUBJECT:  Submission on size of next year’s migrant intake

Zero Net Migration is a cautious, conservative policy

Dear Sir/Madam

In a recent article in the Sydney Morning Herald (January 11, 2002) Minister Ruddock described two extreme positions regarding Australia’s population. One position calls for rapid growth and the other for zero net migration.

The first position is indeed extreme as it proposes increasing our population to a size without historical precedent.  It gambles with the welfare of future generations by assuming that our resource base will be capable of offering a decent standard of living to large numbers of Australians.   This assumption is made in defiance of the evidence — former Environment Minister, Senator Hill, described some of our environmental problems as being of biblical
proportions.   No policy of growth is compatible with the precautionary principle nor with the need for intergenerational equity.

The second position, that in favour of zero net immigration, was also described as extreme because it might lead to a reduction in our numbers to 14 million by the end of the century.  This position, far from being extreme, is both cautious and conservative.

In 1980 the population of Australia was 14 million. The growth to 19 million occurred under successive federal governments in only 20 years.   This rate of growth has not been described as extreme.   Why then, should a rate of negative growth five times slower be
thought of as extreme?

Was this nation so dreadful in 1980? Of course not!  Nor was it dreadful in 1970 (population 12 million), or 1960 (10 million). No policy which leads to a gentle reduction in our numbers should be regarded as extreme. Rather, such policies direct the nation towards a size which has been shown to be acceptable.

A policy of zero net migration, far from being extreme, would be a desirable policy of caution and conservatism. It would keep options open for future generations. I hope you will consider this point of view.

Enclosed is a recent SPA paper on the connection between energy use and carrying capacity, which I hope you will also consider.

Yours faithfully

Jill Curnow
Vice President
NSW Branch

Sustainable Population Australia Inc
600 Rydal Road, Hampton NSW 2790


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