It’s time for a rational, mature debate on Australia’s population

By Kelvin Thompson, National Media Spokesperson for Sustainable Australia Party:

When the economist Leith Van Onselen was recently asked on ABC radio whether his support for a substantial cut in Australia’s migration program meant he was xenophobic, he replied that he supported a return of our migration program to the numbers we had when Gough Whitlam, Malcolm Fraser, and Bob Hawke were Prime Minister, and that he presumed that they weren’t regarded as xenophobes.

He could equally have pointed out to the interviewer that our present migration program is giving us 250,000 extra people every year. If a political party or commentator proposed quadrupling the current program to a million extra people every year, would anyone who disagreed be a racist bigot?

If anyone who questions rapid population growth is a bigot, they are in good company. The great civil rights activist Martin Luther King described overpopulation as a ‘modern plague’. Environmentalists David Suzuki, David Attenborough, and Sea Shepherd leader Paul Watson have also campaigned against overpopulation. Australia’s founder of multiculturalism, Gough Whitlam, said he didn’t want to see Australia’s population grow substantially.

More recently New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern came to power promising a reduction in migration and her first Budget was expressly about wellbeing, not growth. So too Denmark’s Social Democrat Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, who came to power after neutralising the issue of migration and focussing the election on health and education.

And who can forget Greta Thunberg memorably referring at the United Nations to “the fairytale of endless economic growth”? Yet this endless economic growth appears to be the main reason that successive federal governments and business lobbies want population growth – so they can point to a headline GDP ‘growth’ figure.

Before I decided, after over 40 years as a member of the Australian Labor Party, to leave it and join Sustainable Australia Party, I did plenty of due diligence. I found both its Founder, William Bourke, and its members to have no xenophobic instincts whatsoever. They like Australia’s multi-racial society, and know that we are pretty much the most welcoming country on earth, with one quarter of our residents born overseas and one half with one or both parents born overseas. They support a non-discriminatory migration program – but one that is sustainable – at the long-term average of 70,000 per year, and which does not lower our refugee intake.

They are overwhelmingly motivated by concern for the environmental degradation, havoc and unsustainability of a world increasing by 80 million people every year, an Australia now increasing by an extra million people every 2 and a half years, and, in my city, Melbourne’s relentless 130,000 annual growth.

They agree with the Nobel Peace Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, who pointed out that our key economic performance indicator, GDP, totally fails to factor in climate change. They want action on climate change, and cannot see this happening while our world continues its path of rapid population growth. They are horrified by the impact of drought and fire on our landscape. They are dismayed by the fact that both global and national population have increased by over 50% in the past 50 years, while our wildlife has shrunk by the same amount.

They also think that rapid population growth is bad for ordinary Australians, fuelling overdevelopment, job insecurity, wage stagnation, housing unaffordability, traffic congestion, the destruction of our tree cover, and the loss of a say by ordinary people in the character of their cities and towns.

So I joined them, and I hope you will too…

As explained by sociologist Dr Katharine Betts, many ‘intellectuals’ or ‘chattering class’ influencers in our society automatically equate any criticism of high migration with racism. Along with “bipartisan support for high migration” from the Liberal / National and Labor / Greens federal governments, and “a vocal and cashed-up growth lobby” (banks, property and infrastructure industries, commercial media, etc), “there are few openings for effective dissent.”

For our policy on population and immigration reform, during recent election campaigns we have had to put up with a variety of false and damaging assertions, including that the party is ‘anti-immigration’ or ‘racist’.

These malicious smears have been most prevalent on social media and have come from a variety of sources including competing party supporters, members, candidates and officials (particularly The Greens, but also Labor) – and even influential current and former journalists…

Whilst population is just one of more than 20 policy areas covered by Sustainable Australia, it is an important issue that needs a rational and mature debate, particularly if we are to seriously address issues like overdevelopment, climate change and water shortages on the Earth’s driest inhabited continent. We in no way blame migrants themselves for the rapid population growth policies of political parties – and are proud to have migrants from every inhabited continent on Earth as members of our party!

It’s time to stop the politics of smear.


  1. SnappedUpSavvyMEMBER

    unless you guys come out swinging at the next election I wont bother voting again, you guys have the counters to the racist smears, use them

      • HadronCollisionMEMBER

        shooters/fishers/farmers, flux, ONP, CA, green, animal justice

        [ i vote SAP if there’s a candidate]

      • Flammable Cladding

        Serious question, here’s a serious answer: for those of us so angry at the major parties for what has happened, a choice available to us at the last election was to spite them all by voting for their collective worst enemy.

        We did this knowing that that party is run by a very unlikeable individual and someone most of us loathed and whose every media appearance was about the worst cringe inducing experience anyone could have imagined (well until our PM went to meet bushfire victims …).

        I chose that course in the Senate (and also the NSW LC election) but voted SAP in the lower house (I was lucky to have candidates in both NSW and Federal elections in 2019).

        I consider that to be a viable way of expressing my anger and would do it again.

  2. This says it all:

    “…many ‘intellectuals’ or ‘chattering class’ influencers in our society automatically equate any criticism of high migration with racism. Along with “bipartisan support for high migration” from the Liberal / National and Labor / Greens federal governments, and “a vocal and cashed-up growth lobby” (banks, property and infrastructure industries, commercial media, etc), there are few openings for effective dissent….”

    Spot on. However, in being overly concerned by the spin and knee jerk claims of racism SAP may remain unable to cut through. BREXIT saw a working class rebellion against the Labour elite who were champions of open boarders and mass immigration. Unless SAP can find a way to be direct and bold it will not pick up the disaffected working class in this country. The ‘oppose overdevelopment’ used by SAP to date smacks of inner city elite concerns and a sanitised debate. In reality this debate will be dirty for exactly the reasons mentioned above – you are trying to take the food bowl from a very hungry dog.

    You will win the scientific and ethical debate – but that is useless unless you embrace the cultural issues that will bring a larger voter base. That will sometimes be unsophisticated. Unless SAP has the balls to deal with what the ALP and UK Labour could not they will be a footnote. The writing is on the wall.

    But what have you got to worry about – Liz Allen? Such people are a gift to SAP if you have the will to attack their paper thin and idiotic arguments. But you won’t win by being “nice”.

    • HadronCollisionMEMBER

      Do you think you underestimate the combined might of the Population Ponzi Regime: using Liz Allen as a single detractor to vanquish seems to indicate so

      • Well, if Liz Allen and several other dodgy demographers are put up as the academic powerhouse for the growth lobby, then I’d suggest that a demolition job here should be a priority. There are only half a dozen useful idiots at our universities that trot out “academic” support for mass immigration. If SAP can’t chew them up and spit them out then they have no chance and are useless. Liz Allen has had twice the media of SAP and wants a “conversation”. Give it to her.

        • SnappedUpSavvyMEMBER

          Agree 100%, if they want the conversation to happen with stage 2-3-4 water restrictions then let them have it

    • Yep, SAP have a set of policies an awful lot of people in the country would be happy to get behind but they were pretty ineffectual in the last election. They need to be prepared to get a bloody nose and it feels to me like they’re not prepared to take that risk.

      A political heavyweight in their camp is what’s missing – someone to lead the charge and get the message out there.

      • There is a pernicious psychological factor where no one likes to be accused of racism/sexism etc. This hurts well meaning and genuine people – and the growth lobby know this to be the case. SAP will not win if it has a glass jaw and personalises such attacks. Nor will they be able to sit down and play nice with the growth lobby who use such attacks routinely – because they work.

        #Freddy just posted the link that I think is the way forward.

        To hell with those who think that a nation should not take care of its own. Let’s go after anyone who claims that sensible immigration targets are ‘xenophobic’. It’s time to out the globalists who use mass immigration to drive profiteering. If SAP are unwilling to be the pointy end of such a debate they are wasting their time. They will only generate such media space using a bold communication strategy that articulates what the majority are thinking. The longer they delay the less worthy SAP will become in the eyes of those expecting robust discussion as payment for their vote.

        • I’d argue that there is a difference between being accused and being called out for. The above post shows someone responding to being accused. Others get called out for it and go into conniptions because it annoys them that their bigotry isn’t allowed. The current identity politics, which is practiced and promoted by groups on both sides of the political spectrum, is harmful for many reasons. One of them is that it has allowed angry people who wish harm upon others to hide in the bunkers of their sides without fear of being called by those on their out due to being combatants in a pointless war. Even worse than that, because the end often justifies the means for the participants those that promote the worst ideas are often championed.

          • Sure, much merit in that position, yet I feel that some more perspective is needed. Every nation has racists and bigots. Such people are indeed given cover by free speech that enables their ability to spread division, yet they are a minority. Cutting immigration to sustainable levels will no doubt make such people happy given their agenda, yet to focus on them is to ignore the majority view. It is going on the attack using rational arguments about environmental, economic, ethical and cultural issues that will make SAP resilient to such attacks – not wrestling with the chimney sweep each time he turns up as a distraction.

            The person who uses the “some of my best friends are Jewish/Muslims” to defend against attacks of bigotry enters the cul-de-sac that has been prepared for them. They end up sidelining the debate to one of race/bigotry – which is exactly where the growth lobby and its despicable marketing arm wants the debate to remain – circling around the plug hole.

            We need to get on with what unites us, rather than sideline arguments that divide and shut down the debate.

            The next person who calls SAP reps ‘racist’ or ‘xenophobes’ should be sued. I’d chip in for costs. Don’t debate these people, hang them out to dry. Let them haul themselves upon their own petard.

    • I think many see ON as the party with this position except they are more bold on it and more known. SAP are definitely the more sensible ones but that can also be a bad thing in this instance. Sometimes any media attention is good attention if it makes you known, gives you publicity and incites a strong emotion which cements people’s memories. We remember what we feel more than anything else after all. ON’s numbers went up last election if I recall correctly; many out there would be thinking “she was right after all” even if she wasn’t because they remember the commotion and things she said, parody songs, etc about her all those years ago.

      TL;DR I suspect a “rational, mature debate” is simply just too “dry” to shock people into awareness, actually consider what your saying, and remember you for more than 5 minutes.

    • Rational and civil.
      That has been the disappointing thing about the comments section on MB over the past few years. It went from attacking the issues, to attacking individuals and now it attacks groups. A lot of the commentors would consider themselves to be switched and clear headed yet they struggle to maintain a standard that they expect the politicians and those in the media should adhere to.

  3. “They are dismayed by the fact that both global and national population have increased by over 50% in the past 50 years, while our wildlife has shrunk by the same amount.”

    There is a reason for this. The planetary biome can support only so much mass of animals. Increasing human biomass must see an equal decline in all other animals biomass.

    Which is scary as there is not a lot of nature left… What happens when we completely run out of forest to bulldoze?

    • bolstroodMEMBER

      No worries Penguin4, Climate Catastrophe will take care of it.
      We have triggered laws of physics. They inexorable.
      We have cooked our goose, now we must lie in it.

      • That reminds me back during the Cold War era, my mates and I would ponder which girl at school we’d most like to be closest to once the rockets had launched, the reasoning being that any sane person would want one last roll in the hay before annihilation.

        (I say one ‘last’ one – we were too young to have had our first at that point)

    • Stewie GriffinMEMBER

      Nobody leads from the centre – nobody listens to a someone standing in the middle of a crowd politely calling out their values. If you want to be heard and if you want to lead, then you do so shouting from the edges. Once you are in power, then you can try governing from the Centre.

      Lead from the edges, Govern from the centre.

      • Stewie GriffinMEMBER

        I like the link #6 in particular:

        Adams says, “And identity is always the strongest level of persuasion. The only way to beat it is with dirty tricks or a stronger identity play. Trump is well on his way to owning the identities of American, Alpha Males, and Women Who Like Alpha Males.

        Clinton is well on her way to owning the identities of angry women, beta males, immigrants, and disenfranchised minorities. If this were poker, which hand looks stronger to you for a national election?”

        Despite their good intentions Sustainable Australia are currently targeting your average rational, informed, educated and environmentally conscious voter – approximately 0.5% of the population.

        • Yep, they (or someone better) needs to appeal to those who like drinking water, being able to be treated when sick, having a job, not dying from smoke inhalation, not losing our cuddly koalas, etc.
          (You’ll notice that some of those are stupid, but
          #3. When you appeal to emotions, facts don’t matter
          #4. When facts don’t matter, you can never be wrong)
          How can we make an emotional claim that cutting immigration will help everyone to keep getting rich by buying houses?

          • Stewie GriffinMEMBER

            The only motivator more powerful than greed is fear.

            Fear of house prices falling needs to be neutered – then every other fear can be played up.

      • Absolutely. The SAP meeting I attended reminded me of a parent’s association at a private school. I left with the smell of political death in my nostrils. This is not to say that the people involved were not well meaning and intelligent – they are. Absolutely. It’s just that they have no political instinct. Middle class tofu-eating lamb farmers have a pretty hard time when it comes to the slaughter. Usually they hire someone with a sharp knife. And who is that in SAP?

        • Stewie GriffinMEMBER

          Sadly that was my take away from the few SAP meetings that I attended, they’re just too nice and middle class.

          They need a couple kunts, mainly to crash through the cone of media silence that the MSM have erected around them.

          • They’re the guys who protest in a place designated by police, at a time designated by police, with slogans approved by police. Oh… and they pay their parking at the end of the protest allocated time.

  4. Some emotional hooks:
    – dying of thirst
    – cuddly koalas being burnt alive
    – too smoky for the kids to play outside
    – immigrants from a country where they douse women with petrol and set them alight
    – no jobs for your kids

    • Yep! It’d be nice to keep it rational, but despite what we might think we are we’re still Emotional beings. We make our decisions via emotions & then justify them in the rear view mirror with what rationale we can.
      – low wages
      – undercut wages.
      – priced out of housing.
      – dysfunctional Infra, crowded roads, PT, ambo’s, ED, hospital cues.
      – no arable space left without water.
      – all the usual MB talking points – but in their faces or SAP won’t be remembered past the next nose pick.
      They’ve got to use something like this easy explainer –

      • Need multiple emotional influencers across different age and interest groups
        – lezzo/lizzo (?) for the 16 year olds (or at least someone not called “William” or “Kelvin”)
        – Dick Smith for the over 50s
        – Aussie womens cricket team for the sporty types
        – Ita Buttrose for the blue rinse set?
        – etc.

        • I like it! Could highlight different interests of each demographic better that way too. Although I don’t know how they’d resolve the opposing interests to appeal to all….. Lie to get in then please themselves seems to be a theme.

  5. “When the economist Leith Van Onselen was recently asked on ABC radio whether his support for a substantial cut in Australia’s migration program meant he was xenophobic”

    IMO these attempted character assassinations require a counter-punch. Quote Bernie Sanders comments on his primary role in serving the interests of Americans, and then ask these twats whether they believe in democracy and serving the interests of Australians. Frame the twats as the undemocratic globalists that they are.

    • I Like this too! Pull these spruikers up & show they’re lacking forethought. As the gumball demo shows, we can help them much better in their own countries than if we bring them all over here & overwhelm ourselves to the point of breakdown.

  6. Lvo’s answer is good, but it requires thinking on their part & only political minds or old ones will have any syntax with it. How will you define & raise your profile? How is your voice going to stand out among the cacophony? You can’t win playing this game They outline within Their purposefully narrow confines, or with them thinking they own the ball. Got to highlight & grab that ball, break their stride & put them on the back foot, then bring them up to Your bigger picture! They already think their multi pronged momentum is insurmountable… = Arrogance, Hubris etc. They need to understand what a good hook under the brisket does to overreach, & then a follow up combo – being abrupt on the front of your seat at appropriate times to grab their attention & take the lead….. Freddy’s link is worth a study! as is the Gumball one.

    Anyone who starts talking short sharp irrefutable facts instead of mealy mouthed crap will be an attention grabbing novelty in itself……

  7. boomengineeringMEMBER

    January 15, 2020 at 8:40 am
    One good thing about the 4.00am surf at N Shelly Point I’m back home already, traffic quiet to Syd for some unknown reason.
    Anyhow the missus told off the very young Sari wearing Indian mother of three (lives next door) saying that its illegal to get the recyclables out of our council bin and she could cut her self in the frenzy by the cans. Unfortunately she didn’t understand a word of English , so a waste of breath.
    Because the United Nations jam packed next door the wife had to eradicate their rubbish from our bin as well


    January 15, 2020 at 9:01 am
    Across the road from me in Melb, about 10+ Indians have moved into a rental across the road, they dump their rubbish in our bin and they park there cars 1 or 2 feet out from the gutter, one of them parked in nearly the centre of the street with his door open true


    January 15, 2020 at 9:10 am
    Simple solution: get yourself some better quality Indians! Ones that drive expensive cars and what not. That’s what we did.

    Or just move! 😉


  8. Jumping jack flash

    Since high immigration is required to expand debt – either the new immigrants take on the debt, or the new immigrants are enslaved which enables others to take on debt due to the wage theft, there will be no changes to immigration.

    Instead, smoke and mirrors will be used to cloud and deflect any debate, rendering them irrational.
    The gods of the New Economy have spoken!

    As it currently stands, debt growth is falling below the required level for sustainability, and emergency measures must be taken to return debt growth rates to around 5%. Ideally more than that, but they must at least be around that.
    2.5% debt growth is not enough to prevent the economic implosion that will occur due to the interest payable on that insanely huge mountain of debt, that gargantuan debt mountain which we desperately need.

    I expect as a result that immigration will be ramped up very soon, and we will begin to implement all manner of magical policies in the hope of boosting debt growth back up to the required levels again.