Recall former Greens leader (and founder) Bob Brown’s comments last week on Richard Denniss’ new podcast, whereby he appeared to throw tentative support behind Dick Smith’s campaign to lower Australia’s immigration intake back to the historical level of 70,000 people a year, while at the same time increasing the humanitarian intake:
Richard Denniss: “So Bob. Parliament house is hardly full of shrinking violets… Why do you think people are afraid to have a debate about something like population as opposed to asylum seeker policy? Why is it easier to argue about the small flow of asylum seekers than the large flow of immigration levels that have had bipartisan support for so long?”
Bob Brown: “Well I think Dick Smith has his alarm bells going on this… It’s really tied up with growth economics and the future of our society. We need prosperity, but can we continue to consume more out of a finite planet? And the answer ultimately is no, we can’t. So how are we going to make this transfer?”.
“And one of the things about the population debate is that ultimately, there were two-and-a-half billion people when I came to the planet in 1944. There’s 8 billion now. It’s more than tripled. We just can’t keep that going”.
“And internally, we have the debate about Australia… It’s the immigration policy that is actually leading to the fairly rapid growth in Australia’s population. And ultimately, that can mean a decline in living standards rather than an increase. And I tried very hard in parliament… to look at – because it is tied to growth economics – the big section of that immigration intake is people that can pay $750,000 to come into the country or have high skills, which would be much better-off used back in their poorer countries. Or who are well-off. A very, very small section come as refugees compared to that number. And the question is, have we got that mix right. I don’t think we have”.
Earlier this week, Bob Brown repeated the dose, discussing the population problem and urging Blue Mountain’s residents stand up against bad developments. From the Blue Mountains Gazette:
“The earth is being battered by eight billion mammals eating away its resources,” Mr Brown said…
He urged people to voice their concerns, join action groups and hassle their Members of Parliament.
“It’s about being active, stepping off the footpath and taking part in peaceful protests. Speaking out and generally enjoying life by being on the side of making this planet liveable for our grandchildren,” Mr Brown said.
The three biggest environmental issues we’ll face as the future unfolds are climate change, nuclear technology and over-population, the 72-year-old says…
“People are voting for massive increases in consumption. It’s no good in complaining about the world’s environmental problems if you vote for the people that want to put their foot on the accelerator of a growth economy.”
As documented in Green Left Weekly in 1998, fears of being associated with Pauline Hanson’s “racist” and “xenophobic” views caused The Greens to abandon their policy of “stabilising” Australia’s population and “a zero net migration policy” to one of opposing cuts to immigration.
Accordingly, The Greens have stood by silently as Australia’s population has surged from 19 million in 1998 to nearly 25 million currently, with official projections having Australia’s population surging to 40 million mid-century – more than twice the level of 1998 when the Greens abandoned their stable population policy.
Worse, last year The Greens announced a plan to massively increase Australia’s humanitarian migrant intake without providing offsets to Australia’s current permanent migrant intake of 200,000 – a move that would see Australia’s population increase to a massive 43 million by 2060.
Hence, rather than pushing back against the population ponzi and a Big Australia, the modern Greens have a platform for an even bigger enviro-sucking Australia!
There is a way for The Greens to once again become a genuine “green” party as well as ensuring social justice concerns are met: follow Dick Smith’s plan to increase Australia’s humanitarian intake (currently 14,000 per year) while cutting Australia’s economic intake (currently around 190,000 people per year) to 70,000.
This way, The Greens could achieve two goals: significantly reducing population growth and saving the environment while also being a good and caring global citizen.
Hopefully, Bob Brown’s acknowledgement of the problem, as well as tacit support of Dick Smith’s agenda, will encourage the current crop of Greens to finally enter the population debate and advocate for a more sustainable population for Australia.