Australians want a national population policy

By Leith van Onselen

The Productivity Commission’s recent Migration Intake into Australia report called on the Australian Government to develop a national population policy that focuses on maximising the living standards of the incumbent population and their future offspring:


The Australian Government should:

• develop and articulate a population policy to be published with the intergenerational report
• specify that the primary objective of immigration and the Government’s population policy is to maximise the economic, social and environmental wellbeing of the Australian community (existing Australian citizens and permanent residents) and their future offspring.

Australia’s immigration and population policy should be better informed through:
• genuine community engagement
• a broad range of evidence on the economic, social and environmental impacts of immigration and population growth on the wellbeing of the Australian community
• a published five yearly review of Australia’s population policy. The Australian Government should calibrate the size of the annual immigration intake to be consistent with its population policy objectives.

It seems most Australians agree with the Productivity Commission that Australia needs a population policy, according to results from a new Galaxy Research survey commissioned by Dick Smith:

The majority of Australians (83%) believe that population growth is of such significant consequence that every major political party should have a population plan…

As many as 89% of Coalition supporters believe that every major political party should have a population plan…

There is an overwhelming belief that politicians should be doing something about population growth (82%).

Most Australians (68%) approve of Dick Smith’s campaign to raise awareness for the issue of population growth. Only 14% disapprove…

Most Australians accept that the argument for lower population growth put forward by Dick Smith is an economic one (75%) and not racially motivated (10%)…

There is widespread concern about Australia’s growing population. Overall, 64% of Australians are concerned at the prospect of the population reaching 100 million by the end of the century.

Population growth is an issue of concern for the majority of supporters of both the Coalition (62%) and the Labor Party (62%).

Australians recognise and have concerns about the impact of the population growth. These include infrastructure not keeping up with the growing population (73%), overcrowding in the cities (71%) and housing becoming less affordable (63%).

While older Australians are more likely to be concerned about infrastructure not keeping up with the growing population (78%), those aged 18-24 are most concerned about overcrowding in the cities (80%) and housing affordability (74%).

As usual, ANU’s demography department tried to conflate the issue:

Liz Allen, a demographer at ANU Centre for Social Research and Methods, said once people started discussing population policies, it raised the question of whether there was an optimal population Australia could sustain. “There’s no such number,” she said.

She said a policy would need to calculate economic, environmental and societal sustainability, which was very difficult as the country and world was consistently innovating in areas such as farming and trade.

Dr Allen questioned where the cuts to migration would come from if the current fluctuating level between 180,000 and just under 200,000 was reduced to 70,000.

She said demography showed Australia was ageing and would rely on international migration for teachers, construction workers and hospital staff.

Where would the cuts come from? Gee I don’t know, maybe just return the permanent migrant intake back to pre-2000s levels:

As for Liz Allen’s claim that Australia is ageing and, therefore, relies “on international migration for teachers, construction workers and hospital staff”, this is a circular argument. If Australia imported less people, then there would also be less demand for said staff.

In any event, the Productivity Commission, among others, has comprehensively debunked the view that immigration can overcome population ageing (for example, see here and here).

MB has for a long time called for a frank and honest national conversation about population policy, which focuses on raising the living standards of the existing population. Not the current ‘grow and hope’ position displayed by the major political parties, which blindly assumes that mass immigration is beneficial, and maintains the current ‘Big Australia’ policy without proper planning, community consultation, or support.

Let’s hope Dick Smith’s Fair Go campaign gives the conversation and debate a shove along.

unconventionaleco[email protected]


  1. “Where would the cuts come from?” is a question worth addressing.

    How would we slash immigration? Charge $200k for each PR visa? That would cut the numbers and raise revenue at the same time!

    Jacinda Ardern also answered the ridiculous claim from Liz Allen by saying “not everyone coming over is a builder or electrician”. Exactly.

    • 200k for each PR visa may be a disaster. Those who can afford that will probably buy a house, live off foreign income and use services tax payers fund.they’ll not come here to contribute to Australia but to leech off it.

      • You think rich people do not come here already?

        This website wants to raise the minimum salary on the 457 visa. I would certainly prefer that to the current $53k salary “floor” (which is violated anyway because Ms Jie Shao came here with her “medical degree” on a tourist visa and worked here illegally till her patient died).

    • I suspect a proper reassessment of a) what “skills” actually need to be on the “skilled migrant” visa (eg: nothing less than a postgrad degree or ten years of directly relevant industry experience) and b) proper enforcement thereof would put a pretty big dent in it.

      As would maintaining proper academic standards in Universities.

      The cream is almost all going to go to the USA or Europe, but that doesn’t mean we should be chasing the dregs.

  2. For a start, what about asking how many we have housing, infrastructure etc for. When population is ahead of development there is a problem even a politician should be able to see.

  3. I’ve tried to suggest to family members that our immigration levels are too high, but keep getting howled down. I also talk about Dick Smith, but he is evil because he talked to Pauline. Hard yakka! If I mention SAP, then they are supposedly also in with Dick and Pauline, so I can’t win. I suspect that the fear is around property investment and potential losses, but not really sure, so can’t really work out where the anger is coming from when I say ‘drop teh immigrants’. MSM must be doing a good job 🙁

    • MSM needs immigrants. More people to buy papers or watch commercials. Plus the main political parties will buy a lot of advertising during the next election campaign and these political parties support the status quo.

  4. reusachtigeMEMBER

    We sure do! We want a policy that brings in much more of the right sort of people (less of the losers who have failed in their own country and have been kicked out), ie, those with money to spend especially on housing and to help boost the vibrancy as the country is really dull otherwise.

      • reusachtigeMEMBER

        Exactly. And more pretty Thai and Filipino girls. After just being at a property seminar in Hong Kong I got jealous of how many pretty Thais and Filipinos they have there just hanging out in the really cool bars waiting for relations.

  5. The Australian’s quoting of Dr Allen re. “optimal population is a typical example of media misdirection. As a demographer, her area of expertise does not include agronomy, or hydrological engineering, or…
    Therefore, on carrying capacity, she’s just another clown with an opinion (one the happens to suit Big Australia).

  6. “Group of 8 university addicted to international student money demands more immigration”

    Another surprise from Liz Allen.

  7. We do have a “population policy”‘ Pump the Ponzi ! It’s all about supporting the rent seekers and speculators at the expense of everybody else. It’s the dumbest form of economic development there is.

  8. Imagine if a grazier when asked the carrying capacity of his farm responded “there is no such number”
    Imagine if an ecologist managing the sustainability of a population of large mammals in a finite and fragile environment responded “there is no such number”

    • “once people started discussing population policies, it raised the question of whether there was an optimal population Australia could sustain. “There’s no such number,” she said.”

      This is disingenuous. There may not be an absolute carrying capacity, but there is definitely an absorption capacity – that’s the rate of growth we can sustain without destroying everyone’s living standards.

  9. “Population growth is an issue of concern for the majority of supporters of both the Coalition (62%) and the Labor Party (62%)”

    And still, neither party dares raise the topic for any discussion at all. There is one narrative only – immigration is good for us, we need diversity, populate or perish, and no discussion that could be construed as racism will be tolerated.

  10. “…Australians want a national population policy…”
    Really. Do we?
    What does Australia want?
    Who knows.
    Who is Australian these days anyway?

    Id say the Australian government, or should I say, the government that works against locally born people and sells them out to the Chinese, views the Chinese as more “Australian” than local borns.

    It all makes sense.

    We dont count.

    We havent for a long long time now.


    Kids….set your expectations differently to your parents and grandparents. That way, you wont be disappointed when you cant purchase a tin shed for 500k, and never repay the mortgage. That way, when you can only get 3 part time jobs to make up full time hours, you wont be disappointed about job casualisation and what negatives come with that.

    Dont listen to the media.

    Dont listen to politicians.

    Dont trust the system.

    Try and pave a different life for yourselves than previous generations.

    • No. Stay and fight for your country. I am.
      Defeatist losers are what really are letting this country down.