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.
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.