Greens founder Bob Brown hits out at endless population growth

By Leith van Onselen

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.

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    • No one’s gonna offer bob any quinoa-black bean lettuce wraps or kale chips at the next LGBTQIA relations party/BDS campaign orgy.

      • Points to Bob for not engaging in the colossal waste that is marriage equality and hitting the real issues politicians should be dealing with!

      • 100% agree Calvin, just a bit distraction from the most important issues…which just happens to NOT be where people put their genitalia 😀

  1. Would be good to see political parties return to their core ideology:

    Labor – cut back on immigration to protect labour rights
    Greens – cut back on immigration to protect the environment
    One Nation – cut back on immigration to protect us from the brown, yellow & off colour people’s
    Libs/Nats – ramp up on immigration to protect business, multi nationals & the fellas down at the yacht club.

    • So it is really Labor and the Greens who are out of whack on this one.

      labor, the party of the worker… LOLOLOLLLLLL
      The CFMEU construction worker only.

      • “So it is really Labor and the Greens who are out of whack on this one.”

        Err, did you not read the last, and most important one:

        Libs/Nats – ramp up on immigration to protect business, multi nationals & the fellas down at the yacht club.

        To be fair, that probably equally applies to Labor these days.

  2. G’day everyone. Just wondering why the baby bonus (or whatever guise it is in now) is never mentioned? I was quite young when it was first implemented, but I recall Peter Costello saying something along the lines of having a one child for the family and one for the economy – a quintessential growth economics policy. I feel as though targeting that will support the numbers argument and help steer away from the accusations of being racist and xenophobic when discussing the topic.

    • The baby bonus was discontinued a few years ago (can’t remember exactly when, but before April last year for sure).

      • It wasn’t discontinued. It just evolved. Instead of three grand in the hand you now get $500 up front in the form of a thing called the Newborn Upfront Payment (Jesus wept) then another $1500 or thereabouts in 13 installments as part of your FTB payments.

    • drSmithy’s correct, now discontinued.

      Baby Bonus was a shocker HILDA data showed that rise in fertility attributable to the bonus resulted in a marginal cost of $124 000 per additional birth. This was on a $3000 bonus for every birth.


      The best (only?) way to increase fertility is to lower the cost of the financial millstone that is the cost of shelter. I loathe the country we have become.

      • +1 as Dick Smith says people only have the amount of Children they can give a good life to (generally speaking) right now I have none… because I can’t afford a roof over my head (without being seriously stretched).

      • The best (only?) way to increase fertility is to lower the cost of the financial millstone that is the cost of shelter. I loathe the country we have become

        So far no one who has seen fertility fall significantly below replacement for a prolonged period has been able to get it to rise appreciably again. As such, I’d say we just don’t know how to consistently increase fertility.

      • Fair point StatSailor, but I wonder of those countries that have thus fallen, how many also had rising costs of shelter? We know the answers.

  3. Problem with the Greens is they have a habit of compromising their principles for the sake of their principles.

  4. All Bob Brown cares about is world’s population of 8 million (actually closer to 7 billion.) Immigration shouldn’t matter to him.

    • So he should not have an opinion about the environment in his own country, the driest inhabited continent?

      • It’s not like we have control over what foreign countries do in terms of population though. We only have control over what happens here. China had a 1 child policy, because even they know their is a population issue. Nobody accused them of being racist for it. Although they probably did accuse them of a lot of other stuff for it.

        I recall watching a documentary on it in high school maybe 20 years ago now and thinking “wow” only able to have 1 kid… But I understood why at the same time.

      • The Chinese even had a provision that members of ethnic minority groups living in regional areas were allowed two have two children instead of one.

      • neither – he is a religious zealot.

        the green philosophy is a fork of modern protestant thought, and is either a precursor of or closely related to progressivism, which can be though of another fork of protestantism.

        The structural issue produces memes which all sound similar, we must repent or the world will end. he is essentially an ‘the end is nigh’ zealot. We can also see similarities to other historical doomsday cults, including lets share everything, each according to his needs, sexual degeneracy of various kinds [i don’t mean brown specifically being gay, i mean these doomsday cults all have weird sexual practices] etc etc. This has happened hundreds of times in human history. In nrx, we call this Yet Another Communist Sex Cult – see

        The fact that not destroying the environment is a good thing is quite immaterial. We can see from his religious convictions that his head is in the ‘repent, the end is coming mode’. Any other logical inferences are incidental.

        I should point out that this does not mean he is a bad person, often people who go this far are among the best we have, but the indoctrination of the modern prog state screws them up good.

      • NRX is little more than an “oh noes you must repent” cult for the angry white guys brigade, so that’s some rolled gold, right there.

      • It’s late now, so let’s park until later. But, how’s this, I’ll prove to you (a) racism is valid and good, (b) white supremacist thinking is stupid, does not work, and lots of non white people had the same philosophy (wait for it) before white people.

        I understand in your head racism === white supremacism, or at least racism is a super set of white supremacism. Clearly, you are wrong.

        Edit: also, being brown myself, why would I be a white supremacist? I mean, maybe if racial chauvinism worked as an idea, maybe i would be a brown supremacist, but it does not work at all, so why bother?

      • I understand in your head racism === white supremacism, or at least racism is a super set of white supremacism. Clearly, you are wrong.

        Probably best you don’t make too many assumptions.

    • Yep, that was my read of it too. His concern is only world population growth and, globally, the elite’s obsession with growth economics. He comes across as disdainful of Dick’s Australian focus, as though poor Dick is missing the point, trying to clean up a bit of a mess in the kitchen while the house is on fire. Pity the fool, etc.

      Still, someone has to represent the needs of the electorate Bob. Of course, you were in the Senate for a couple of decades, so understandably that’s a bit foreign to you.

    • Yes, clearly. You can tell from his words. All about the global situation. No mention of the local one at all.

      “future of our society”
      “we have the debate about Australia”
      “immigration policy”
      “rapid growth in Australia’s population”
      “decline in living standards”
      “people that can pay $750,000 to come into the country or have high skills”
      “back in their poorer countries”

      It’s almost like you’re not listening to the reality of anything he says and just projecting your feelings about him over the top.

    • Mr SquiggleMEMBER

      I haven’t listened to the podcast yet, but it sounds like Bob Brown is just re-stating his previous positions: ie

      1) avoid any discussion about reducing immigration
      2) deflect all discussion about Australian population growth with generally useless comments about global population levels
      3) win votes from the inner-city, Doctor’s wives demographic with ‘Diversity is our strength’, ‘Big Business is evil’ and “let the boats come’

  5. to be honest I would prefer the Greens stick to their guns, as I would prefer them to be wiped out

    Their cultural marxism/fascism irritates me, and needs to be obliterated by association

    • Their cultural marxism/fascism irritates me, and needs to be obliterated by association

      Indeed. Damn equality, democracy, fairness, safety – never did anyone any good.

    • Yes, global average birth rates have stabilised. But, there are a small number of Third World countries where the birth rate remains high, and this needs to be addressed (by fighting childhood diseases, raising living standards and, where possible, providing more education for women and girls).

      • Plus one developed nation, according to the UN:

        “From 2017 to 2050, it is expected that half of the world’s population growth will be concentrated in just nine countries: India, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Pakistan, Ethiopia, the United Republic of Tanzania, the United States of America, Uganda and Indonesia (ordered by their expected contribution to total growth”

        Note that in the USA, births are projected to rise over the period mentioned, whereas births in India have been falling since around the beginning of millenium and are expected to continue to fall, and the situation around births is similar in Indonesia. These two countries, at least, seem to be doing a better job of reigning in their population growth than good old USA.

      • yogiman – yep, much work to be done yet. Bill gates and crew are onto that…whew….

        StatSailor – Interesting order and yep, interesting to see the USA in that list given its fertility rate, so I assume it is immigration that boosts the USA?

      • Clearly the USA are the ultimate immigration powerhouse but they are surprisingly fertile for a developed nation and almost got back to replacement level (2.05) before the GFC put an end to it. UN projects pretty high for developed country (1.9) standards for years to come.

  6. ““The earth is being battered by eight billion mammals eating away its resources,” Mr Brown said…”

    LOL there are a lot more than 8 billion mammals eating resources… What a douche

  7. “Racist” and “xenophobic” are just nasty labels to shut down our animal instincts to be with our kind and secure its future.