My email inbox was hit with the following advertisement from The Australia Institute promoting a new book imploring Australia to copy the Nordic nations on policy:
The Australia Institute’s Nordic Policy Centre is delighted to announce a new book The Nordic Edge: Policy Possibilities for Australia, edited by Andrew Scott and Rod Campbell, published by Melbourne University Press and featuring chapters written by a number of Australia Institute staff.
Climate and energy. Work/life balance. Mining taxes. Progress on policy issues like these is essential and yet they have become subject to the most rancorous partisanship in Australia.
Progress can seem impossible.
Yet Nordic countries have taken a ‘ja, we can’ approach to these and other issues such as independent foreign policy, prison reform, gender equality, retraining for workforce participation and media diversity.
The Nordic Edge explores policies adopted by Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Norway and Iceland and the exciting possibilities they provide to overcome Australia’s seemingly intractable problems.
The Nordic experience shows that progress in these areas is not only possible, but can be achieved while increasing prosperity and community wellbeing.
The Nordic Edge feature chapters from leading Australian and Nordic thinkers and policy practitioners, including Sweden’s recent Foreign Minister, which outline proven approaches to help Australia become a fairer, happier, wealthier and more environmentally responsible country.
Contributors include: former Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström, Dr Richard Denniss, Dr Lenita Freidenvall, Professor Marian Sawer, James Fleming, Dr Maria Rae, Associate Professor Anna Eriksson, as well as a number of Australia Institute staff, with a foreword by Ben Oquist.
I obviously have not read the book and do not know its contents other than what is listed above.
Curiously, the blurb makes no mention of the Nordic nations’ relatively stable populations. It is true that Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Norway are renowned as being among the wealthiest, happiest, best functioning nations in the world. They also have the highest living standards.
It is also true that they achieved all this success without resorting to mass immigration-driven population growth:
Since 1960, these Nordic nation’s have grown their populations by around 25% – a fraction of the 150% growth experienced by Australia over the same period. One of these nations (Norway) is also a commodity economy, like Australia.
For example, in 1960 Sweden had a population of just under 8 million, only 2.4 million less than Australia’s. By 2019, Australia’s population had grown by around 15 million to 25 million, whereas Sweden’s had only grown by around 2 million people to 10.1 million.
Australia should indeed seek to emulate the Nordic countries by focusing on improving productivity and living standards instead of perpetual low quality, quantity-based growth that benefits a small number of elites over the masses.
Restricting immigration and aiming for population stabilisation is a good start.