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Population: It’s the environment, stupid

By William Bourke

Australia has a rich history of migration, with around 7 million permanent migrants calling Australia home in the 20th century alone. That’s 70,000 migrants per year – or a bumper ANZ Stadium crowd.

By the turn of the century, our population had reached 19 million and the Australian Bureau of Statistics had recently predicted we would reach about 25 million 2051. But now, over 30 years ahead of schedule, we are at that number. Why?

At the same time as cracking down on asylum seekers arriving by boat, John Howard cunningly increased overall annual permanent immigration from well under 100,000 per year to over 200,000 – around three times the 20th century average. We’re now feeling the impacts.

Given our fertility rate is just below two children per woman, immigration policy is our de facto population policy. Other than our humanitarian intake of under 20,000 per annum, immigration policy should of course be run for the benefit of Australian citizens. It should complement major policy objectives including secure jobs with wage rises, affordable housing, better urban planning and most importantly, a sustainable environment. But now, these public policy objectives are being made harder by too many people too soon.

The sad reality is that our record immigration intake is not for the benefit of everyday Australians or even the migrants themselves. It was really put in place to feed the ‘growth lobby’ of property developers, banks, retailers and other big business beneficiaries. It also helped John Howard – and all successive governments – to create the illusion of bigger jobs and GDP growth.

The cost of growth – most worryingly on our environment – have our scientists warning us loud and clear. But is any politician listening?

The latest federal government State of the Environment report, released last year, stated that Australia’s natural environment is being placed under acute strain from rapid population growth, and that it’s amongst the main drivers of environmental problems such as land-use change, habitat destruction, invasive species, and climate change.

There are few better policy solutions to help protect Australia’s environment than abandoning plans for a ‘big Australia’. We’re not just headed for 40 million by 2050. It’s 80 million by 2100, and so on.

When Julia Gillard took the Prime Ministership she immediately declared she does not believe in this big Australia and that the nation should not ”hurtle down the track towards a big population.” She added that we need to stop, take a breath and develop policies for a sustainable Australia. That means a population that our environment, our water, our soil, our roads and freeways, our busses, our trains and our services can sustain.

But Ms Gillard abandoned her very first promise to the Australian people and Labor buried the issue. This is despite being in government with The Greens, whose ongoing silence on the population issue is deafening.

Our annual intake has remained at around 200,000 per year, when returning it to the historic average of 70,000 seems prudent. I ask again. Even as we hurtle past 25 million, is any politician listening?

William Bourke is president of Sustainable Australia Party.


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  1. Shaun Newman

    In my humble opinion, we need to dramatically limit immigration now! We are finding even in the larger regional cities that our infrastructure is simply not coping with this rapid increase in population. The only people winning in this situation are the supermarket chains because everyone has to eat.

    Poverty is on the increase in Australia too with Australia recording over 3 million living below the poverty line in 2016, goodness knows how many we would have now?

    Our environment is being attacked by logging and millions of hectares are been cleared by farmers and others in the past 5 years, exacerbating the effects of Climate Change, bringing prolonged drought and eventually huge floods. Sooner or later a political party has to make a decision to put the brake on immigration, we just cannot cope with the current numbers on the driest inhabited continent on Earth.

  2. Andrew J. Smith

    What credibility or scientific evidence does Sustainable Australia have in supporting its purportedly pro environment, low immigration, low or zero population growth and low or zero growth economy?

    Further, in addition to lowering permanent immigration cap, how can any government control the NOM without severe socio-economic disruption through flow on effect, like Brexit?

    If SA’s suggestions were wholly adopted by any government of the day but without any significant impact, what then?

    Maybe the focus should be upon Australians, government, media and corporate interests that resist pro-environmental policies such as taxes for investment, environmental regulation, renewable energy sources etc. to develop and adopt concrete policies for ourselves?

    Immigration and population control obsessions linked to the environment and other perceived negatives, are just problems looking for a ‘solution’ to (post 1970s) ‘immigrants’?

  3. johno

    Us aussies need just over 5 planet earths to sustain our lifestyles. Im thinking we need to be reining our needs and desires back somewhat shitloads.

  4. New England Cocky

    Funny … most of the problems above can easily be remedied by decentralising government departments to urban regional centres. Then a local “economic boom” would be generated by the influx of drought-proof salary and wages.

    Every government job added to an urban regional community adds about 3.5 private sector jobs. So add 100 government jobs supporting say, Mum, Dad and two kids, and 4 x 100 = 400 persons move into a fresh air, open spaces, traffic congestion free environments.

    But such forward thinking does not interest the LIarbral Party who believe that “there be dragons” north of Hornsby and that you fall off the edge of the flat earth when you cross the Hawkesbury River bridge.

    Agriculture directly “sustains” about 4% off the Australian population and there are few urban regional centres over 100,000 persons. Meanwhile, regional centres over 50,000 persons like Tamworth, Coffs Harbour and Dubbo generate more business from towns persons than from the surrounding agricultural interests.

  5. Egalitarian

    That would be an all too easy solution for them NEC. We can’t have that!

  6. SteveFitz

    With government sponsorship exponential population growth is driven by big business with one objective, a cheap, abundant labour force and profit!

    What disturbs me is that the facts and figures are hidden from us by government and one needs to ask why? Could we have some open discussion on immigration and, as an example, immigrant students coming into the country. Peter Dutton’s clipped response to this very question was: “They bring in billions of dollars”.

    Immigrant students engaged in fulltime higher education bring in billions of dollars and are warmly welcomed, as an asset, in Australian society. Bundled up in this group are the unskilled immigrant labourers sponsored by big business to flood the workforce. They bring in nothing – They are entitled to work 20 hours per week to pay their way, slaving for Woolworths and the like. They are given citizenship after 4 years and are replaced with more unskilled labour. It’s an on-going cycle.

    I have broached this subject before on AIMN – The Liberal Party and MSM try to dismiss this topic as a racist rant and that diversion concerns me – Why the cover-up?

    Mr Dutton, please don’t lie to us by omission – You are not the PM yet. Give us the facts and figures on unskilled immigrant labour flooding into the country along with the legitimate students. It’s our country and I believe we deserve a say. All we want is the truth and if you can’t give us that – Should we trust you to be our next Prime Minister.


  7. Jon Chesterson

    This is a load of twaddle and nonsense, at least at the regional level, might make some sense on a global level but then it ignores the reality of population displacement which is doing the environment no favours, since the displacement is largely caused by the politics of the West which is destroying the environment and collusion in conflicts overseas.

    Australia is a large country with a small population and a struggling infrastructure especially rural. But that is because the population in rural Australia is bleeding and governments refuse to invest in regional infrastructure because they are caught up in neoliberal ideology. The global reality requires population control and management, but to fix this we also need to stop fanning conflict overseas and we need to do our bit to settle the global migration of displaced refugees who have lost their homes and livelihoods, plus a few other misplaced government policies like ADANI, coal mining, energy policy and the massive ogre of shameful privatisation on the myth of efficiency.

    There is plenty of space here in Australia, one of the biggest and least populated nations on the planet, and we were not the first ones here, remember that! Listen to our Aboriginal elders who welcome migrants from all countries of our world and like the many nations of indigenous Australians we must learn to live together and celebrate our differences constructively, peacefully, collaboratively and equitably.

    Unless we welcome all migrants including displaced and humanitarian refugees and do our bit the battle for resources globally will end in war and we will not fair well in such a global conflict. So get off your soap box and examine the real causes of conflict and disparity in our world. Solving the environment has everything to do with solving the human problem, after all we are the cause, so closing borders, blaming and abusing migrant refugees will only fan the inequities and disparities, it is false news and faulty thinking, you are plainly wrong. Unless we take steps to solve the human dimension globally at a local level, we will have no environment left. Start managing both together in tandem, rather than seeing them in conflict, and yes there is a measured and sustainable economic benefit for Australia in doing this, from which rural Australia will greatly benefit if managed sustainably and sensibly, as long as we don’t do what the Liberals do, that is feed corporate greed, human, social and environmental exploitation, that is where the true enemy lies.

  8. Realist

    It’s virtually a zero sum game – more people, less environment. And we have the highest mammal extinction rates in the world. The NSW drought is a signal of the climate changed future that awaits. How anyone who values nature thinks piling more and more people into the driest continent in the world (excluding Antarctica) is a good idea must have a case of cognitive dissonance. As David Attenborough said “All our environmental problems become easier to solve with fewer people and harder – and ultimately impossible to solve – with ever more people.”. We need to minimise our population growth (in our case slash immigration), as does the rest of the world.

  9. corvus boreus

    Tony Bourke,
    A very relevant and quite reasonable article that probably won’t win you too many friends.
    In my less than 1/2 century of life, I have seen the Australian population go from 13 million to nearly 25 million.
    Since 2006, the majority of this has been due to immigration, of which the vast majority has not been for humanitarian reasons.
    Anyone who doesn’t think that this drastic rate of increase in our human population has contributed to the ever-increasing strain being placed upon both our natural resources and biological diversity is either ecologically blinkered or unwilling to face an unpleasant reality for fear of being branded a bigot.

  10. SteveFitz

    Jon – Anyone who can view the big picture with some degree of clarity needs an action plan if the intention is to save the world. In the process we can’t forget the needs, the aspirations and future prospects for every-day Australians. Job security with reasonable wages and conditions are part of a family’s sustainability. Without which we end up on the street.

  11. Jon Chesterson

    More twaddle – The humanitarian migration program poses no threat to population in Australia, it is one tenth of the total permanent skilled and family migration population of around 190,000 per annum and one fifth of the temporary migrant population around 100,000 which includes students and business, and it is a myth that they are not skilled, illiterate or have no family already in Australia. There has been no significant and sustained increase in this category, other than a one year modest blip of about 5,000 in 2012 and 2016 and quite how 1,500 refugees imprisoned on Nauru and PNG and around 15,000 humanitarian refugees per annum are a threat to either our population or national security is a joke. The intake of humanitarian refugees has been stable for years and has not seen any growth despite the millions of refugees worldwide who have been displaced due to war, torture, threat, death and genocide. Figures based on ABS government stats. This means we have not been pulling our weight in recent years on humanitarian refugees and instead chosen to demonise them and include them in the lie and generalisation that migrants (and especially the humanitarian category) are some how responsible for our environment, particularly give our negative birth rate – What a load of twaddle!

    It is disingenuous to make such generalisations, statements and false equations no matter how logical they may seem, because on a regional basis the evidence just doesn’t stack up. Many commentators here are falling into the trap of generalising and conflating unsupportable arguments. So to be saying as some do here that people who disagree with your arguments are ecologically blinkered, dissonant, unwilling to face reality are in fact describing no-one other than themselves, because you are attributjng the wrong causes in the Australian context. You should be talking about global climate change, fossil fuels, carbon emissions, loss of natural habitat, wars and destruction of human habitats, agriculture and economies in conflict zones like the Middle East, all of which is clearly due to the capitalist goals and economies of the West, NOT migrants whose lives have been diminished by us and the regimes they flee from.

    Source: Migration to Australia: a quick guide to the statistics –

  12. jimhaz

    I vote for Sustainable Australia wherever possible. I would much rather see clear thinking people with a comprehensive and coherent set of policies push this EXCESSIVE immigration/work visa/OS Student issue than anyone like Hanson, Anning, Abbott.

    New England Cocky’s suggestion is a one off, and wouldn’t work out that well. Big departments need a big labour force – too hard in country areas for heavy levels of decentralisation – what would happen is they’d end up outsourcing admin work to India.

    I do not think Jon Chesterson is correct in any way. [responding to his first post]

  13. corvus boreus

    Jon Chesterton (since some of your ‘twaddle’ seemed to be directed at me).

    Firstly, quoth corvus (re Australian immigration) “the vast majority has not been for humanitarian reasons”.

    Secondly, yes, worldwide environmental problems have obviously been exacerbated by the political/corporate corruptions that cause rapacious over-exploitation and senseless conflicts, and this has to be globally addressed at a fundamental level in order to stem both environmental catastrophe and the hemorrhagic flow of displaced people (if that’s even possible).

    Thirdly, increased fossil fuel consumption, habitat destruction, etc etc, all are inextricably linked to (amongst other things) human population growth, both here in Australia and in a wider (global) context.
    The ‘hockey stick’ graph doesn’t just correlate between the rise in atmospheric CO2 and global temperature increases, it also, funnily enough, roughly corresponds with the exponential increase in human population.

    Ps, Do not assume that I am an ignoramus regarding the causative effects of human activities upon this Australian segment of the biosphere, my main job is to observe and mitigate against ongoing processes of environmental degradation to native ecology.

    Pps, Some fun facts about the sheer collective weight of our domesticate beasts;

  14. SteveFitz

    Jon – There’s a fine line between twaddle and dribble. Unskilled immigrant labour comes straight off the Punjab and are put to work in supermarket chains, fast food outlets and so on. Go and have a look, check the night fill at Woolies or Coles and have a chat with them. They are lovely people and they don’t mean to take our jobs – It’s called opportunity for them and the corporates love it.

    Sorry to be blunt – But facts are facts and your smoke screen won’t hide what’s going on. Some of us might be blinkered but how can we be so blind, when it’s staring us in the face. All we ask are the facts and yours don’t stack-up.


  15. Stephen Laverack

    While I agree with what your saying in the most part. You really haven’t given any solutions to this problem. I personally think immigration should stop all together so that we can achieve a balance between births and deaths. This would allowed the population to settle and become truely multi cultural. This will increase civil cohesion and help bring us all together.

  16. Ross Cargill

    It is hard to reduce your footprint if you keep adding more feet

  17. Jon Chesterson

    Don’t agree Steve, you have made an observation and explained with an opinion not fact. So where do you think these ‘unskilled immigrants’ have come from? Obviously they have not come on the skilled migrant’s program unless they are unable to secure a job in their area of expertise which is quite common in Australia. Nor have they arrived through the humanitarian program as they are not from the troubled countries we all now about that would determine their status as a genuine humanitarian refugee; besides the ones I am speaking of are either imprisoned offshore or in our community without a working visa. So there are only three possibilities left that I can think of. (1) temporary migrant visa and either student or brought here through corporate sponsirship; (2) family migrant category; or (3) they were born here. So how does that either dispel my proposition that humanitarian migration or even general migration is impacting on our environment, where is your argument and where is your evidence? You can be blunt but it doesn’t mean you are correct or your argument even cogent.

    ‘Unskilled immigrant labour comes straight off the Punjab’ – What has this tentative observation, assuming you have attributed their origin correctly got to do with environment? Frankly you are sounding either a little racist or conflated. I see many young Australians working in our supermarkets who were born here, far more than I could possibly reliably attribute to the Punjab. So your example is an outrageous mute point on several counts.

    I have given you stats and facts and you have chosen to ignore them with a most obtuse remark regarding people from the Punjab. I know why you have done this, because it appeal so readily to the world view of some white Australians who have chosen to ditch critical thinking and will immediately fall behind you on the assumption/s and presumptions you have made, and that is just plain political or just darn right lazy.

  18. Dr Alexander

    The reason why we need a proper discussion about this issue is well demonstrated by comments supplied by Jon Chesterson and Andrew J. Smith. The very suggestion that our population policy should be evidence-based, subject to review and ultimately decided by a democratic process seems to be anathema to them both.

    The pro-mass immigration “economic” arguments we hear time and time again don’t stand up to close examination. The cost of having an economy that dedicates much of its resources to housing new arrivals is a drag on national innovation and creativity. It is a model rejected by so many wealthy nations with a high standard of living. The typical measure of “wealth” supposedly generated by mass immigration is GDP. This is a flawed, if not totally misleading metric. Other indicators show that mass immigration has us standing still and benefiting very few in real terms.

    The myth of the ‘ageing population’ dilemma and the association of population growth with economic vitality is not supported by any objective assessment.

    It’s high time to force a population policy to be based upon the best available evidence that is produced and reviewed by impartial agents. It cannot be allowed to be driven by ideology and vested interests.

    Again Mr Smith’s is illuminating in when he makes the following comment that seems to betray an interesting mind set.

    “What credibility or scientific evidence does Sustainable Australia have in supporting its purportedly pro environment, low immigration, low or zero population growth and low or zero growth economy?”

    There is loads of evidence and case studies globally. But isn’t it more to the point that if government policy fosters a mass immigration program it should be based upon impartial and empirical evidence they already have? Just were is this analysis? If it doesn’t exist, how can anyone suggest that mass immigration and Big Australia has been planned? Why does Mr Smith demand a high standard of evidence from William Bourke without accepting that the onus of proof remains with the proponent of the policy?

    That simply makes not logical sense to reverse this obligation.

    So Mr Smith and Mr Chesterson, where is the government’s study into the economic, environmental, social and long-term impact of this policy? Don’t tell me you are going to point to the industry sponsored studies some decade ago that were funded by developers!

    It’s common knowledge that industry lobby groups have held the floor and dominated the media with pro-mass immigration and pro-development messages over the last decade. The conspicuous absence of ANY significant discussion of the core issues mentioned by Mr Bourke is blindingly obvious. Only the wilfully blind won’t see it.

    If the government cannot pull out comprehensive and convincing studies that prove that mass immigration is planned and has taken into account the many negative impacts of a rapidly growing population, this policy must be shut down immediately; not because Mr Bourke needs to prove the case, but because our government has clearly implemented an unplanned policy that has every chance of going badly wrong.

    If you have any historical sense of the global tragedy that results from over abundant human populations we cannot afford to allow governments to make Australian population policy on the run – or to leave this to industry groups. It is simply irresponsible and playing with fire.

  19. Jimmy Webb

    Jon – I was wondering when you were going to bring out the “racist “ card. So predictable. Nobody can have a conversation on immigration without jerks like you crying “racism, racism “

  20. Matt Moran

    Well said William Bourke.

    Of course you’re never going to win over the economically or economically ignorant or indeed the vested interests who only care about more customers but do not contribute to helping fund the roads, schools, hospitals etc and services needed for this or the wildlife and food bowls we’re developing over.

    For some it will be the same old baseless claims that we can manage this growth despite all evidence showing the opposite.

    At the end of the day, the majority of Australians want to slow down our rate of population growth.

    The question for the denialists is whether they still want Australia to be run by the idle rich who are addicted to extreme unearned income, or do they want an economy and environment.

    You can’t have it both ways.

  21. Stephen Hunt

    I don’t understand what is going on in this country. Immigration is far too high for us to sustain it. Our roads are clogged, our hospitals are swamped, public transport cannot cope. Any mention of reducing immigration to something more reasonable is met with cries of “racist” or a load of motherhood stuff about how immigrants have done wonders for our society. We are in the process of destroying this fragile and beautiful land, and hardly anybody seems to care.

  22. Jon Chesterson

    Dr Alexander, your comment is obfuscation for several reasons. You have not addressed any aspect of my argument which focuses on the myth between immigration and environmental degradation reflected in this article. You have not bothered to examine the stats sourced or the argument. Instead you ask those you name call to provide evidence of government planning. Isn’t that something you should be asking from the government? Do you think an ideological party like the Liberals or the government are going to provide an immigration plan based on scientific evidence, particularly when they are opposed to it?

    Is there any doubt that most of us are ourselves are either migrants or descendants of migrants and the multicultural and economic contributions are as evidenced and plain to see as the shops, restaurants, clubs, businesses, workforce, skilled and unskilled in our communities? ow else could Malcolm claim we are the most successful multicultural nation? Besides there are more than economic reasons for immigration, there are civil, moral, cultural and family grounds, international relations and responsibilities, contribution to world trade, human society, regional inequities and global-political stability and safety, international agreements, UN charter and human values associated with democratic society allowing people freedom of movement or is that only for the privileged white classes?

    Your argument is vague, circular, concrete and runs on only one track – the assumption of a government plan (an ideology and presumption on its own), but no mention of the core relationship we are discussing, the relationship between immigration and environment. There are global and regional dimensions to this debate and what applies to one may not be generalizable or operant for the other. I see no attempt from you to constructively add to this debate, rather you name call and then launch into a most obscure and circular argument.

  23. Alex K

    Any person or party that advocates more humans on our fragile planet are insane. We need to quickly stabilise the worlds population and then reduce it to avoid environmental catastrophe.
    In simple mathematics I trust, not politicians or vested interest groups

  24. Jon Chesterson

    Oh very droll Jimmy, call it for what it is. There was no cogent argument tendered, just a wild stab on ‘Punjab’. So you are calling the jerk card. Isn’t that what people do when they have nothing constructive to say and want to silence the debate? So much for open discussion which you wish to resolve by insult. Many Australians are racist and clearly they don’t like it, it is a symptom of their own intolerance, no matter how polite or reasonable they like to project themselves.

  25. Matt Mushalik

    Immigration growth will soon run into oil, energy and water shortages. Then all academic debate will end.

  26. corvus boreus

    A basic truism, borne out by volumes of contemporary and historical evidence, is that swift increases in human populations usually cause increased pressure/degradation on the surrounding environment.
    Another truism, borne out by statistics, is that large scale immigration tends to rapidly increase recipient human populations.
    It would therefore follow that large scale human immigration into an area would tend to cause an attendant increase in environmental pressure/degradation.
    Not so much a myth, more of a fairly solid hypothesis that seems to be supported not only by some serious scientific research but also by the simple evidence of my own observations.

  27. Jimmy Webb

    Big end of town love immigration. Vested interest selling land, housing, goods.
    As Gerry Harvey from Harvey Norman said, “the more immigrants coming in the more fridges and tv’s I sell.”
    The greedy pigs in this country don’t give a damm about the people already struggling.

  28. Jon Chesterson

    The elephant in the room is neoliberalism, poor government and corporate practices of the global corporates, big business, the rich, elite minority and ruling classes, not immigration! Of course population is a fundamental and critical global problem, but this is not the argument presented in this article and being debated here and that is the conflation, instead some want to simply resort to accusations of population denial and blame migrants and immigration. And when this is questioned and contested out come the insults and obfuscation.

    William Bourke states in the article ‘…It was really put in place to feed the ‘growth lobby’ of property developers, banks, retailers and other big business beneficiaries. It also helped John Howard – and all successive governments – to create the illusion of bigger jobs and GDP growth’. There is the elephant, not immigration or population per se.

  29. Ben Stocks

    As a small farmer of 40 years experience, now retired, i believe the current opinion climate is the economy versus the environment, or now versus later. I ran sheep, cattle and mixed cropping on 800 acres when fat lambs sold for $3 in the 70s. I never received, nor expected help during a drought. Lambs are now $300 and the farmers need a subsidy. We are clearing marginal land for agriculture and growing water intensive crops hundreds of miles from the water scource. Vested interests are milking water from our rivers for personal profit.
    I love country life where there is no congestion, 2minutes to the shops and we know everyone in our town of 2500 people. We have no crime, pollution and major services are only 30 minutes away
    On the other hand, Broken Hill has a water crisis and last drought a friend in Goulburn had to shower in a bucket and water her garden with the water and she was on the town water supply! Canberra at its current rate of expantion is headed for a water crisis in the future. Kalgoorlie pumps its water from near Perth, which has
    its own water problems in a dry spell
    I wonder why I am disillusioned with our politicions?

    It is a fact that many coast dwellers have never been over the dividing range and completely ignorant of rural Australia. The bulk of central Australia is a desert. I know because I have seen it all!

  30. SteveFitz

    Dear Jon – Now we’re having some fun – I never voice an opinion unless I qualify it as an opinion – Everything I say can be backed up with cold hard facts, at your request. If your reading was slightly less contained, you would have come across this on the AIM Network today: –

    …Could we have some open discussion on immigration and, as an example, immigrant students coming into the country. Peter Dutton’s clipped response to this very question was: “They bring in billions of dollars”. Full stop.

    Immigrant students engaged in fulltime higher education bring in billions of dollars and are warmly welcomed, as an asset, in Australian society. Bundled up in this group are the unskilled immigrant labourers sponsored by big business to flood the workforce. They bring in nothing – They are entitled to work 20 hours per week to pay their way, slaving for Woolworths and the like. They are given citizenship after 4 years and are replaced with more unskilled labour. It’s an on-going cycle.

    I have broached this subject before on AIMN – The Liberal Party and MSM try to dismiss this topic as a racist rant and that diversion concerns me – Why the cover-up?

    Mr Dutton, please don’t lie to us by omission – You are not the PM yet. Give us the facts and figures on unskilled immigrant labour flooding into the country along with the legitimate students. It’s our country and I believe we deserve a say. All we want is the truth and if you can’t give us that – Should we trust you to be our next Prime Minister.


  31. Mont

    STick to the facts:
    1. Eternal population growth is UNSUSTAINABLE without unlimited resources
    2. Our resources are FINITE which means there’s a limit
    3. Australia’s cities occupy some of the countries best farm land for housing particularly in the driest states like SA
    4. Most of our resources including food is exported to countries that are overcrowded from population growth over their ability to produce food
    With all this in mind we need to be very careful about our own population control as not only our economy will suffer but also the ecology of this great country.

    Want to live like the poor in other countries supporting the wealthy like Turnbull and his mates?… simply ignore the truth with head in sand 🙂

  32. Dr Alexander

    Mr Chesterson, with respect, almost none of what you have responded with addresses the primary issue I am raising.

    A responsible government policy must be based upon evidence and planning. Where is this evidence of planning that takes into account the sustainability of our population?

    If it does not exist we can only conclude that this current immigration policy has been made on the run and for expedient reasons and has not been formed by a broad analysis that the Australian people pay our government to produce.

    It has zero to do with race. It has everything to do with what the citizens of this nation desire and is ultimately a democratic decision about a sustainable population and the measure of this.

    Accordingly I find it terrifying that some people are arguing for ‘freedom of movement’ as a global human right. It suggests that you believe that this is not an issue to be determined by a democratic process where the Australian people have the ultimate say in their own country. Thus I can only conclude that you do not ascribe to the same understanding of a secular democratic process that determines governance in Australia. In my view the vast majority of Australians will reject your ideals.

    Australians cannot influence the population policy of other nations or those in our region. We can only manage our society, economy, population and ecosystems via the legislative and government instruments that we vote for. We should indeed abide by international agreements and must configure our population policy to take account of them. But at no point should we seek to degrade our environments or become a sink for excessive population from other nations who have lost control of theirs. There is no obligation for our nation to exceed the carrying capacity of our environments now, in the future or ever. We are one of the few nations that can still make this call. The others who have not done so suffer from the poverty, unrest, inequitable and unjust societies that follows.

    To support a slap-dash population policy ignorant of environmental and resource planning at a time where climate change and energy issues bring focus to the risks associated with unplanned population growth is a national suicide note.

    In my view your ideology is dangerous, anti-democratic and ideologically globalist. You reject the nation state as the instrument of governance determined by an informed public. I reject your views utterly. I thank you for demonstrating the nature of much of the pro-immigration lobby. I hope you continue to be so honest.

    And as for your “myth between immigration and environmental degradation”? (whatever this means) I should point out that there is no connection between “immigration” and environmental degradation. No one I know is arguing for stopping immigration. This is a false dichotomy. The issue is about a “sustainable population”. It would help to know the difference.

  33. SteveFitz

    Jon – For obvious reasons, I felt the need to repeat myself. This is a serious matter and impacts all of us. Corporates sponsor unskilled immigrant labour into the country and Peter Dutton refused to release the names of the corporates and how many. Besides gunning for MT, I suppose one way out is to resign from the portfolio and brush your hands of the whole sordid, covert affair.

    With government sponsorship we have been screwed by corporates, once again, and it digs deep.


  34. Jon Chesterson

    Yes Steve I agree with you on this point, and I speculated in a previous comment above that this might be the category of entry. I also suspect that the numbers are far larger because of the immediate economic benefit both to universities but mostly big business and unscrupulous businesses exploiting cheap labour and avoiding industrial relations and tax requirements, employing from Australian workforce. Some farming businesses do this on a seasonal basis, we have already heard reported some businesses exploit the labour market. We have also heard a number of big businesses involved in wage theft on this vulnerable temporary migrant group, thus who is exploiting who? I think it is obvious, politicians and big business. I also believe (and this is my opinion) that Dutton and the Liberals are deliberately fudging the figures because it is couched in corporate favours, that politicians are also financially benefitting from this, and don’t want to be exposed or come clean on these practices and figures. It also provides the convenient opportunity for them, the media or the public to blame this all on migrants, which serves their political and electoral interests of offshore detention and reducing permanent migration, thus shifting the blame, offering up a scapegoat and smoke screen for their corrupt activities.

    But this is part of the myth I am getting at, that many will jump to conclusions and blame migrants and defacto the government and bipartisan offshore detention scam. The only winners here are politicians and the companies playing this game, the elephant in the room. It conveniently or by default fuels division, lies and racism. We hang our arguments on the wrong hooks which serves the cover.

    Now I can’t prove these suppositions but I strongly suspect this is the game plan and it deceives all Australians and exploits our economy, the temporary migrant workforce and genuine permanent migrants and humanitarian refugees who end up on the receiving end of public anger and hatred. It also helps the Liberals stay in power.

    But none of this has anything to do with preservation or conservation of our environment per se. We need to look at the bigger picture for this, not our current migrants and refugees.

    I wholeheartedly acknowledge population growth is not sustainable, particularly globally and neither do I subscribe to the model of perpetual economic growth. Te planets resources are finite, something the Liberals can’t get into their dull heads. However Australia’s population is very small and mostly urbanised, so the city crowding we see is not reflected in remote, rural and regional Australia. Towns are dying for lack of viable population, work, investment and infrastructure – and that has to do with poor government not migration. Migrants aren’t stealing our Murray Darling Water, big industry is, coal mines, cotton farms, Barnaby Joyce. Traditional farmers and indigenous custodians are being ripped off, but it has nothing to do with migrants.

    Australia needs to grow back in rural and regional Australia and resources devoted to traditional and appropriate sustainable farming, not the will of big business. With appropriate investment and infrastructure, instead of spending $1 billion per annum on illegal detention of genuine refugees in Nauru and PNG, just imagine what that money could do for rural and regional Australia. Instead, we vote for the lie and the money is misappropriated by government, but who does the public blame, refugees and migrants otherwise why else will the two major parties not come clean. because there is political payoff at the ballot box. And we all suffer this blind reality.

    “I have broached this subject before on AIMN – The Liberal Party and MSM try to dismiss this topic as a racist rant and that diversion concerns me – Why the cover-up?” This is not racist at all, as I understand what you are saying here, absolutely legitimate.

  35. Peter Cook

    Jon, glad you brought up neoliberalism, I agree neoliberal ideology is driving continual environmental destruction in Australia and worldwide. However, you might like to join the dots to make the connection that the neoliberal capitalist system is using immigrants as a way to promote endless growth and ensure a cheap labour supply. The high level of population growth in Australia is putting stress on infrastructure, people and environment. Quality of life and environment is deteriorating — this is very hard to deny. How can an open borders policy, which you seem to support, do anything other than further accelerate population growth and further deterioration? Australia’s ‘wide open spaces’ are predominantly arid or semi-arid (70 % of total land area) with little water and poor soils. It would be better to assist less developed nations by well-targeted foreign aid.

  36. Jon Chesterson

    Dr Alexander you have no idea what I believe and you have exaggerated all you accuse me of out of hand and out of context. You have taken the discussion way out on a limb in order to scapegoat me on your presumptions and prejudices, because you mould what you hear and distort it to confirm your world view. I think it is sad you race to score points on your outrageous accusations. No point discussing any further with you and I wonder if not gulp at the credibility of your title and ego. Seriously, you need to take a look at yourself before jumping into the canyon.

  37. Geoffrey Schleehauf

    The comments from all above don’t install any faith in either side of the argument. Since the fifties, I have seen our population grow from 8 million to current day figures. During this period, our farmers tried broad acre farming that the Americans adopted on the prairies and areas that receive snowfall which contributes to soil moisture that we do not have. Farmers/ grain and cotton growers reverted to flood irrigation which placed a huge amount of strain on underground acquifiers and in the process knocked down acres and acres of trees. The same happened in the sheep and cattle industries so that pastures could be established for their stock. It is known that trees help to keep salt levels down, but they also provide protection of the soil and shade which also keeps the ground cooler. These are very basic observations, but when harvested properly, the trees also provide valuable resources.

    Over the years, our governments have failed to support local inventions in the aviation, shipping and motoring industries and those industries, like a lot of other industries have gone off shore. Of course the old argument of higher costs of local wages comes to the fore, but with the loss of these industries, the nation’s earnings have also dropped. Not to mention the cost of electricity adding to the costs of production. We no longer have fuel refineries relying instead on imported products. With the loss of these industries and skills, our nation is in dire straits if we are threatened by another country. We have no industries that would support our Defence of our country as we have to rely on the importation of the majority of our weaponry. Just the fact that these items have to be imported places makes them vulnerable to interception/destruction before they arrive on our shores. Our governments have allowed this to happen. Unions also have a part to play in this fiasco due to the fact that for years they have forced our wages up and we then enter the “Rob Peter to pay Paul scenario”. Costs of items go up in an effort to compensate for increased wages, or workers are laid off. This has been Australia’s history and the current legacy. We have vast numbers of unemployed which causes a huge drain upon the government coffers, resulting in a fall in the standard of living. Bringing in further people only creates a greater strain upon our already substandard infrastructure.

    How do we kick start Australian industry? We have to start somewhere and I believe that we need to start drought proofing the country. Just after the completion of the original Snowy River Project, crews working on that scheme had been warned out that they were to start a pipeline from north Queensland that was to carry water south from the monsoonal regions.This was stopped for some reason. If that project had proceeded many of the communities that continually suffer during droughts may have benefited. At least there would have been ongoing employment and further benefits in manufacturing. Look at the massive task that saw the
    Western Australian project to run a pipeline to the goldfields and amount of money generated by their resourcefulness.

    In more recent times, we have seen the environmental debacle raise its head. As a result nothing positive has happened within the country other than the public paying through the nose for power and governments pushing alternative power industries all at the expense of industries and the population they have been elected to look after. We have an abundance of coal and should be continuing to use a 24/7 means of providing energy rather than investing in intermittent power generation methods that are mainly manufactured outside of Australia which provides minimal employment for Australians. We are surrounded by water. Imagine the amount of power that could be generated by the horizontal falls in Western Australia or that generated by wave action. These two methods alone would be producing power almost on a 24 hour time frame that solar power cannot. We could have earth moving contractors producing huge inlets where the tidal waters would flow turning generators to produce the power needed and there would be work for many people during lengthy construction periods. Extra high voltage systems would lower the price of pushing the power to the areas that it was needed and Australians would benefit.

    Technology has a place, but until such time that it can compete economically, our governments have to realize that their allegiance is to Australia and its people. Until the majority of people living in this country have employment, our immigration must be strictly limited and Australian money should be used to look after our own backyard first. The disgraceful amounts of money that is being handed out to the UN, EU and Paris Accord should be stopped and we should withdraw from the Trans Pacific Pact because if we fail to provide or fulfill an agreement (whether it is caused by drought conditions or other means), Australia is vulnerable to litigation on the global scene.
    We just have to look at the global scene and see where other countries are tightening their belts and we should not be any different. It is time to put Australia and Australians first!

  38. Calvin Greenway

    I like the use of such a dramatic picture of land clearing you have used as if to put the blame on farmers. If stupid governments and developers and people didn’t insist on building suburbs on our best agricultural land there would be no need for more land clearing. But hey, we have to fit all those extra people somewhere don’t we?

  39. Kaye Lee

    Do you see overpopulation as a global or national problem?

    If we educate girls, they breed later. If we lift people out of poverty, they have less children. If our religions and politicians didn’t preach that contraception and abortion were sins then we would have less children that people are unable to care for.

    If we want people to move to regional areas then build a high speed rail from Melbourne to Brisbane rather than Barnaby’s boondoggle inland freight rail.

    If we want to address the water shortage then invest research dollars into purifying waste water and harvesting storm water and building pipelines that could transfer monsoonal rains to be stored down south.

    I get concerned that immigration discussions morph into something else.

    We have extremely low population density so the concerns aren’t actually numbers but more where those numbers are concentrated and the strain on infrastructure and services that high density population presents.

    How about some research into terraforming the interior?

    Am I getting too Star Trek?

  40. Dixon

    You can’t solve problems caused by too many people in one place by adding more people to that place. Australia needs a proper discussion about immigration. It needs to grow it’s economy by adding real value, not by building houses for people who can’t afford to live in them.

    The irony of the nations current problems compared to those suffered by the first peoples to live here is remarkable. In an impossible thought experiment, I wonder if things would have turned out ‘better’ if we could somehow wind the clock back to those earlier times and slow down the influx of white colonists and prisoners, to allow better integration and assimilation?

    Anyway, it’s easy to whinge and complain, what we need are real leaders who can formulate solutions to complex problems, explain them in simple terms, and so bring the majority of people with them on the journey. Can such a bold path survive the onslaught of vested interests? I want to think so, because I think most people are heartily sick of the current hollow spin and subtle corruption. But we are stuck with democracy as the tool to achieve change, any other options are terrifying.

  41. Lar Ni

    I read an interesting book a few years back called ‘Overloading Australia’ by Mark O’Conner & William J. Lines. I thought it brought up some really good points that our policy makers and the general population should take into consideration when determining the future of our beloved country. Just thought I’d through that out there as its on topic worth checking out.

  42. Jon Chesterson

    Hi Peter, I think you will find I joined the very dots you speak of in my piece immediately above your comment. I realise you were tentative, while some others here clearly are not, when you say, ‘How can an open borders policy, which you seem to support…’. I do not support open borders, I never said I did and I haven’t even inferred it. I have no issue with what you have said and if I did I would be happy to discuss with you.

    But the kind of assumptions that Dr Alexander concludes in his diatribe on what he states I believe, ‘In my view your ideology is dangerous, anti-democratic and ideologically globalist. You reject the nation state as the instrument of governance determined by an informed public. I reject your views utterly. I thank you for demonstrating the nature of much of the pro-immigration lobby. I hope you continue to be so honest’. What a load of tripe, how patronising and presumptive is this? What an arrogant and petulant….!

    I belong to no pro-immigration lobby and demonstrate no such nature, but I do admit to humanitarian values and this is not the same. ‘Anti-democratic…’, my god that is laughable, Dr Alexander needs to be addressing his anger at Dutton, Abbott and Turnbull. Indeed I too question the temporary visa figures which I suspect distort the picture and clearly play to political and corporate agendas, not to the interests of Australian public and Australia. What I argue against is bigotry, where people jump on the bandwagon of blaming migrants and refugees or other minority groups, (which is so common in Australia) for all our problems and using them as excuses and deterrents, an extension of the blame game. I object to being put in a box for expressing a view, because some here can’t think outside the box with their head in concrete or made of concrete, because they are too busy labelling people instead of sticking to reason and a rational, responsible argument.

    We have a few colourful and opinionated characters here don’t we.

  43. Kaye Lee

    There are many valid points brought up in this discussion.

    A lot of arable land has been consumed by the urban sprawl. We like economies of scale on the one hand but ignore the cost of doing it. We used to have many small scale farms and market gardens in the outer suburbs of Sydney. The local fruit and veg shop stocked the local produce. The local butcher sold meat from the local abattoir were local farmers sent their stock. You could drive out to the farms and buy direct. (Big savings on transportation and distribution)

    I don’t blame immigration. I blame the greed of developers, the corruption of councils, and a lack of town planning.

    Having said that, there is significant strain on some of our cities now so mindlessly adding to it won’t help anyone. Make it easier for us to spread out.

  44. Mary-Anne

    I fail to see where William Bourke “blamed” immigrants for anything and he acknowledges the fact that this country was built by immigrants.. He rightly criticised our current rate of immigration, not immigrants themselves. Our population is growing too rapidly and is causing all sorts of stresses in our big cities. Since 63.2% of our population growth is fueled by immigration, then it is a fair call to want to slow this influx of people down and formulate a plan on how many people this country can sustainably support and at what rate our population should grow in order to avoid the sorts of issues we are currently experiencing due to a population that is expanding too rapidly. There is no question that increased population puts pressure on our environment and the bigger the increase the greater the environmental impact.

  45. Pappinbarra Fox

    It is the ecology stupid. Australia can sustain a population of around 16 million. Above that and there are environmental costs. For example Australia has lost 50% of topsoil since 1788. There are. Also limits for example fresh water.

    Think systems analysis and apply it to the ecology. We have already moved several systems to meta-stability. We are already in trouble.

  46. corvus boreus

    Agree, and I would add that concern over the spike in population exacerbated by high levels of immigration is a recurrent pattern in a broad swathe of other humans that I have interactions with, be they progressive environmentalist or conservative ‘redneck’. .
    Currently, the coalition, Labor and the Greens all have policies that do not seek to lower current voluntary immigration levels, which leaves the widely resonant subject ripe for political exploitation by fringe operators.
    I would rather concerns over factors in our escalating population be addressed through rational analysis and considered debate (such as Mr Bourke of SAP offers here) than left as an ever-more powerful plaything in the hands of people like Pauline Hanson (who seems to be scientifically uninformed, cynically exploitative, and more than a little bit bigoted).

  47. Suzanne

    I am angry that the Australian people are not listened to and that Big Australia is being foisted upon the people against their will.

    Does anyone want to live in Bangladesh? Because that’s the “vision” in store for us. Surely if we wanted to have global cities like Hong Kong and New York, we could just move there? Why destroy yet another country with overpopulation and add to planetary climate woes?

    Until our “elected” officials are personally impacted in major ways from the negative outcomes of their own decisions, nothing will change there. They all seem to have their hand in multiple investment properties, making them pretty much ineligible to make the necessary decisions for sustainable nation building.

    I will be voting for the Sustainable Australia Party and I know of many other people who will too, because the will of the people is not being implemented, and only greedy and disciminatory policies run Australian society at the moment.

    If you are not liking the increase in traffic, the increased commute times, the new palls of smog hanging over the cities in which you are forced to reside, the insane level of prices for basic housing and the dilution of a culture without any assimilation into its good parts, then vote with me.

    PS – If food was dramatically increased in price to twelve times its previous price ($48 for a kg of bananas, for example), don’t you think people would be protesting in the streets? Why is a basic human need (housing) allowed to be so out of reach for ordinary people? If the social contract of obtaining food and housing in exchange for labour is dismissed, governments of the day can look forward to people NOT participating willingly in the workforce and a return to forced slavery to make their stupid artificial consumption society work.

    PPS – If something is not done soon about massive inequality and the erosion of the good parts of the Australian way of life, I forsee a mass exodus of people who will give up on the country and go elsewhere looking for a better life.

  48. Bruce Tuncks

    Australia is NOT a big country when you subtract the deserts. And the agricultural areas we do have are characterized by poor soils and unreliable rainfall. The fact that we have a lot of desert makes us look big on a map and fools many people into thinking we can carry a big population.
    What about resource depletion and global warming? These will act to limit food production, in fact they already are. Australian soils are spectacularly poor in phosphorous, most soils being 5 cycles of erosion away from volcanic soils.

    Where is the debate about the level of immigration? It’s like going to war… you would hope for an informed debate and then a vote first, but this as never happened. That’s why we need this Sustainable Australia party.

  49. Max

    I’ve been reading all of your comments. You seem to be wanting to lead the conversation into off shore detention etc. This discussion is about over population.
    While reports and graphs are fine but my concern is what I’ve observed around SE Asia. I was working Borneo about 10 years ago and my 3 hour boat ride into the wild jungle was a shock , there ain’t no jungle any more. I was all being cut down.
    I spoke to one of the tree fellers and he didn’t like doing it but ” if I don’t do it ,someone else will” which was true.
    You will blame the corporations, corrupt governments and ignore the fact that it’s the insatiable appetite of an increasing population that’s driving the problem.

  50. ramAustralia

    The Sustainable Australia Party’s policies are the only ones that seem to make any rational scientific/engineering sense. Australia is already well beyond its sustainable population carrying capacity. Infrastructure everywhere is overloaded and all facilities are crowded. Land clearing, water pollution, and air pollution are out of control. The population Ponzi real-estate bubble scheme must stop before it destroys us all.

  51. Jeff T

    This is an article containing content that I’m already aware of accompanied by the same comments that always follow such articles.

    How are we going to make a difference before the environment does it for us?

  52. Barry Goldman

    So sad. So frustrating. So disappointing.
    To read through these comments and see that, apart from a few exceptions, so many are well meaning but purely emotive in nature and few are based on any real understanding of demography, ecological sustainability, population dynamics etc.

    Take the argument one hears so often (and raised above) that ‘Australia is a very large place, sparsely populated, and we can carry lots more people’. Well, Antarctica is nearly twice as big as Australia and has a permanent population less than 100! So why aren’t all the excess people moving there?
    Stupid argument isn’t it? Yet we hear it repeatedly applied to Australia in comparison to the USA, Europe, Asia etc.
    (Think arable land area, topsoil profile, soil fertility, weather patterns)

    The futility (and illogicality) of needing migrants to counter the ageing population is now, at last, reasonably well accepted.
    But there are unfortunately still many who refuse to accept that.

    And there are those who confuse migration control with racism! They are NOT the same. One is simply about numbers, the other mostly about cultural infusion (again, that’s not even racism).

    Then there are those who think that growing GDP is a worthwhile objective in its own right.
    Well, we know that GDP is a flawed metric, and even when qualified as GDP per capita, it fails to capture the true impact (positive OR negative) on our society. In fact, other measures of the social wellbeing, per capita, have now been declining since the mid 1970’s.
    Continuing this argument, the very definition of ‘sustainability’ means that, in the long run, GDP should be stable.
    This is the case in the world of nature – two of the most highly productive, rich, and diverse ecosystems on the planet (tropical rainforests and coral reefs) are themselves not growing! And, finally, we are now seeing a number of economists coming to grips with the idea that we can (and must eventually) have a non-growing economy.
    When will our business and political leaders accept this?
    Fortunately, SAP is leading the way.

  53. corvus boreus

    Some of the Sustainable Australia Party’s basic policies;

    Secure jobs via a more diverse economy
    Affordable housing for first home buyers and renters
    Better planning to stop overdevelopment
    Sustainable environment and population
    Stop undemocratic privatisation of natural monopolies
    Greater employment opportunities and cultural recognition for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
    Save our backyards from developers
    No new casinos without clear public approval
    Establish major community product repair and recycle centres
    Prioritise public transport funding over new tollways
    Higher animal welfare standards
    More investment in The Arts
    Review and renegotiate all trade agreements
    Establish an independent Federal commission against corruption
    Require more timely disclosure of political donations
    Lower immigration from its record level (over 200,000 p.a.) back to the long term average of 70,000 p.a.
    Tackle global population growth through increased foreign aid for female education and universal access to contraception
    Enable citizen initiated referenda or plebiscites to give the people a proper say on important issues like euthanasia, immigration, republic, casinos, etc
    In summary – an economically, environmentally and socially sustainable Australia. A nation that is democratically governed for the people, not vested interests and vocal minorities.

    Subject to my usual processes of closer scrutiny of policy detail and examination of the demonstrated quality of proffered candidates, I will probably give this party a few numbered squares on the next senatorial ballot sheet.

  54. Murray

    Nearly two decades ago, research from the CSIRO advized a third of agricultural land from the marginal areas needed to be returned to natural bush to maintain the health and sustainability of the remaining areas. Where is this report now? Buried under the dust of drought.

  55. Johannes

    Some very good points in that article.

    We must return immigration levels to historical levels until such time as we

    a) have succeeded in changing our lifestyle to be sustainable, and

    b) have provided the additional infrastructure to reduce the negative impacts of population growth.

    Even then, that can’t hide or fix the deterioration in housing affordability (paying more for getting the same standard of housing or paying the same amount for a declining standard of housing).

    As it stands today, most of the environmental problems that we have are being made worse by population growth. On climate change, we have to run faster just to stand still, never mind about really making progress.

    Politicians always want the population growth now and to deal with the problems in the future, because they will not be the ones who have to deal with it. This is an immature approach and eventually our debt to the future will come due.

  56. Murray R

    I fully agree with Max that Jon has been leading this conversation away from population growth to his pet topic of offshore detention. Coincidently I just came across this piece after reading a chapter in “The Game of Mates” which exposes the population growth rort. Apparently even the productivity commission has concluded that it has a negative economic impact on the average Australian. Jon is completely wrong in believing the Liberals long term interests are in reducing permanent migration (because they support offshore processing). Both major parties are supporters of continued population growth in defiance of the wishes of the clear majority of voters.

  57. congo harrison

    By the time I was 10 years old in 1969, I knew the economics of growth were not sustainable,
    but I had no idea mankind was stupid enough to let things go this far, it simply defies

    Back then, (and now), I saw China’s “one child” policy as cruel, but sensible and indeed
    necessary for the survival and maintenance of our planets life forms and supporting systems.

    Now, we have a situation where China is only part of the problem, as we bore on towards
    a grey Earth syndrome…….. a miserable spectre before us – while we are brainwashed into
    thinking everything is ok, and technology will somehow save us. Stupid, stupid people.

  58. Dr Alexander

    Mr Chesterson

    I have made a point about the absence of any evidence of planning for Australia’s population policy and this as the prime obligation of government – not others – to provide.

    You did not respond.

    I have also suggested that population policy must be demonstrably evidence based and ultimately decided via a democratic process.

    Again, you avoid this issue and certainly don’t rush agree. Instead you suggest that:

    “Besides there are more than economic reasons for immigration, there are civil, moral, cultural and family grounds, international relations and responsibilities, contribution to world trade, human society, regional inequities and global-political stability and safety, international agreements, UN charter and human values associated with democratic society allowing people freedom of movement or is that only for the privileged white classes?”

    Basically environment and sustainability does not get a mention – but international treaties and freedom of movement do. This is reinforced by:

    “This is a load of twaddle and nonsense, at least at the regional level, might make some sense on a global level but then it ignores the reality of population displacement which is doing the environment no favours, since the displacement is largely caused by the politics of the West which is destroying the environment and collusion in conflicts overseas.”

    You bring race, white privilege and bigotry into a discussion about population sustainability. You are a humanist you say. But humanism nor ideology do not determine what is sustainable.

    Clearly you are not a person who holds to the view of evidence-based domestic population policy being a matter for a democratic process involving citizens of this country to consider. Or you would have said so.

    You have conflated whether we should or should not have a sustainable population with an ideology that sees an international obligation that you associate with western policies, white skinned people, bigotry and racism (you say so quite clearly). And in the process you contaminate a discussion about population sustainability.

    This is not ‘humanism’ but classic identity politics and post modernist gibberish where issues to do with human ecological impact and evidence are turned into an ideological war on the west and blame shifted to ‘white’ people in a form of racism that you think is acceptable and helpful.

    Mr Burke has been talking of issues to do with sustainability, but you continually bring your narrative back to an apparently failed connection between immigration and environmental degradation – when this is provably a false dichotomy. It is a sustainable population that is sought. I don’t know anyone claiming that ‘immigration’ has caused environmental degradation – other than you.

    Add this to the woefully uninformed comments that you have scattered through your narrative as if they should be overlooked or accepted as truisms, such as:

    “There is plenty of space here in Australia, one of the biggest and least populated nations on the planet.”

    Clearly you have not looked at our rainfall patterns, distribution of prime agricultural land and seem to have little appreciation of the studies looking at the carrying capacity of most of Australia – nor do you bother to consider the models for climate change that are in their worst case – dire.

    You could have corrected me had I been mistaken, instead you play the victim card:

    “I think it is sad you race to score points on your outrageous accusations. No point discussing any further with you and I wonder if not gulp at the credibility of your title and ego.”

    Mr Chesterson, you supplied the words. There is noting outrageous about my interpretation. You have also refused to affirm a commitment to evidence-based policy, democratic process or that our population should be sustainable. These are very basic requirements that the majority of Australians want.

    You have gone on to conflate western politics with our issues of immigration (which is again, very largely baseless).

    Many of us tire of the constant drumbeat of identity politics, social justice rants and mentions of ‘white privilage’ and race that has drowned out a sensible debate about the substance of the population debate in Australia.

    Conflating issues of sustainability with your pre-occupation with race and off-shore detention has nothing to do with the question of what a sustainable population might be.

  59. SteveFitz

    Kaye Lee – We need visionaries and if you look at what humans can do collectively nothing is too Star Trek. There are suggestions to terraform the interior if you’re a big thinker.

    Lake Eyre is a dry salt pan averaging 15 metres below sea level and covers 9,500 square km. Piping ocean water to Lake Eyre at the rate of evaporation would provide an unlimited supply of hydroelectricity. The area is large enough to generate its own weather pattern via the evaporation / rain cycle to lush up the interior with, the added benefit of slowing sea levels rises. When and if Lake Eyre fills up you have an inland sea and generate electricity with tidal shift. Bigger pipelines have already been built.

    In the words of Dixon: “What we need are real leaders who can formulate solutions to complex problems, explain them in simple terms, and so bring the majority of people with them on the journey. Can such a bold path survive the onslaught of vested interests?”

    Kaye Lee – You may be well ahead of your time but what you are suggesting, I believe, can and will happen one-day. If not by us, then rising sea levels will eventually flood Lake Eyre and we will have our inland sea.

  60. Johannes

    @Kaye Lee, @SteveFitz

    “Show me the money”. Maybe these ideas work. Maybe they don’t. You get them working. Then we can revisit what is a sustainable population for Australia.

  61. Barry Goldman

    Can SteveFitz please explain how one would pipe sea water into Lake Eyre with energy left over to generate power?
    He must have read a different physics book to me.
    Or perhaps he is envisaging a teflon lined pipe, about 100 meters in diameter (yes, large isn’t it), and further coated with antifouling agents that need replacing every 12 months so the pipe doesn’t foul up.
    oes he know something about laminar flow and fluid dynamics that we don’t?

  62. Barry Goldman

    What a shame there are not more people like Dr Alexander who have the understanding, the time and the patience to engage in these discussions (and to refute the ideologues with sense and objectivity).

    Keep up the good work!

  63. Roy Fulloon

    Natural population increase is currently around 160,000, immigration is 200,000 to 240,000. This annual population growth, which is below 2%, represents a doubling time of about 35 years, ie. 2018 – 25 million, 2050 – 50 million, 2090 – 100 million. This does not take into account famine or war, either amongst ourselves or with outer space aliens.

    Closer to home, in my lifetime (80 years) Australia’s population has tripled, as has all forms of pollution, resource depletion, traffic congestion, environmental degradation. More people, more pressure, less well being.

    Nowhere does any writer suggest that we examine the current financial system (with its deliberate chronic undersupply of the money needed to lubricate the domestic economy) for its major role in driving the trashing of the planet.
    We are now seeing on a daily basis just how corrupt some banking practices really are. How can we trust these people to be in charge of creating and distributing our money supply. Sadly, but not surprisingly as all federal governments have been the banks’ protectors, this major function of banks never made it into the Royal Commission’s terms of reference for examination…..

  64. Dr Alexander

    Barry Goldman

    I can only echo your summary:

    “So sad. So frustrating. So disappointing. To read through these comments and see that, apart from a few exceptions, so many are well meaning but purely emotive in nature and few are based on any real understanding of demography, ecological sustainability, population dynamics etc.”

    This is a predictable consequence of our media refusing to engage with the overwhelming number of scientists who have looked at this issue. Instead, over the last decade, we have been treated to the usual band of fake demographers and industry spruikers banging on about flawed economic dogma in a well run public relations campaign. Added to this we have a loud band of ideologically driven people from the far left who have equated ‘sustainability’ with some racist agenda.

    It is simply bizarre. A train wreck. But it is also very informative.

    It demonstrates the massive task that SA has is to reach a lot more people with their policies and justifications. The debate needs to be decoupled from the far-left crusade to turn what is essentially a scientific question into one of identity politics and social justice. There are many issues of ‘social justice’ worth discussing, but to continually conflate ‘sustainability’ with hidden motives and race has done immeasurable damage and distracted the debate from key issues.

    The danger of a poor quality debate is well known from our recent history.

    Some 3 decades back the privatisation agenda began in Australia with energy being one of the first public assets flogged off. Many warned of the hubris and consequences which have now all come to pass. At the time it was similarly impossible to expose the fake and self-serving neo-liberal arguments – because the MS media has always been ‘pro-privatisation’. Clearly the media is now either pro-mass immigration or far left; banging on about sustainability = racist agenda. It is like a snake trying to swallow its own tail.

    So, how can SA make these policies more widely known? It shall not be through the MS media that’s for certain. There needs to be a very effective grass roots communication strategy to counter the failings and bias of the Australian media. In my view the far-left needs to be called out on their preoccupation with race just as much as the neoliberal rubbish need to be exposed for the recurrent lies and fairy tales that pervade the MSM.

  65. Barry Goldman

    In furthering the comments of Dr Alexander, I have been advocating the need for a population policy for over 50 years. I had almost given up hope because, until very recently, it was considered taboo and ignored even by many of my friends and colleagues.

    Finally however we are now seeing at least some community discussion on population issues and, being the optimist that I am, there is again some hope.

    But politics and democracy as we know it is a now failed and inappropriate social construct in need of replacement (? sortition) this means that appeals to the wider population fall mostly on ears that don’t have the time, the inclination, or the background, to deal with the underlying issues, or the ability to change them (as most people ultimately vote with their hip pocket and few can make the connection between planning for sustainability in the long term as against financial benefits in the short term).

    What I hope to see is that some of our business leaders will finally grasp the need for no-growth economic practices (I have known a few) and it is they who, rightly or wrongly, pull many of the strings of real power (and decision making).

    One of the main problems is that most people cannot understand, or choose to ignore, the concept of logistic or exponential growth.
    Sure – many business leaders and economists understand compound interest, the need for re-investment, the ideas of future value, discount rates and marginal costs, but they fail to realise that these apply also to the environment, resource utilisation and natural populations. How do we educate them?

  66. Stephen Bullied

    Part of the problem as to why people are reluctant to speak up about the policy of continual growth of population is that when one does so it is assumed that one is a racist.

    The silence of the Greens on the oxymoron of sustainable growth is, I believe, due to their fear of the debate becoming one about which cultures should be stopped from coming here.

    Those of us who believe that the continual-growth model is simply stupid, will need to be ready to distance ourselves from the racists who will jump on the bandwagon.

    A clear message is necessary which must not be allowed to be hijacked by the racists, or religious bigots.

  67. Jeff Dorset

    SPOT ON WILLIAM — Australians exert the biggest Eco and Carbon Footprint on the planet. As a result Aust has the highest rate of extinctions on the planet. We are rapidly losing our unique, fragile, amncient unique gene bank bio diversity at an alarming rate. What are Greens and ALP MPs saying in the parliament to achieve a major reduction in the Turnbull Govt s horrendous, record high ,destructive non humanitarian immigration, foreign student and worker intake RORT ? NOTHING from what I can see. The serious ecological crisis Australia is suffering with the fastest rate of extinctions on the planet mainly caused by our world highest ECO FOOTPRINT per capita and our world record high big business controlled population growth MUST END. Each one of Turdbull s new cashed up middle class aspirational migrants is equivalent to 10,000 Ethiopian Goat herders in terms of ecological Impact. I = Px A x T. Australia has the fastest highest rate of extinctions on the planet. Aust wasn t particularly affected by the Ice Age 20,000 years ago which results in Aust having the status of a globally significant Bio Diversity HOT SPOT but OUR unique, fragile, ancient, crucially important gene bank BIO DIVERSITY IS BEING DESTROYED AT A RATE FASTER THAN ANY PERIOD IN THE EARTH S HISTORY BY EXCCESSIVE HUMAN FOOTPRINT, RESOURCE EXTRACTION, POLLUTION OF FRAGILE HABITATS AND unsustainable,destructive HUMAN POPLN GROWTH. Turdbull s cashed up "migrants" aren t interested in living in hot dusty isolated Aust country towns. They don t like blow flies. Besides it s tribal land — The narrow comfortable coastal corridor is already seriously OVER POPULATED. aLL HABITATS ARE SUFFERING. end immigration and foreign student /worker import NOW.When will you expose Turdbull/Dutton s Abuse of our traditionally humanitarian immigration system now for crony capitalist profits --Lieberal Party "donors"-- at unsustainable record high intake and foreign 457 Visa workers designed to flood our work force with cheap non unionisd workers to force down wages. Syd popln is growing at 90,000 net pa under Turdbull s right wing social engineering of city electorates. Anglos–English speakers are now a minority in Syd and Melb—– Highest most destructive record high immigration foreign student and foreign worker intake in our history.
    It is fascist Turdbull who is responsible for the highest most destructive unsustainable record high non refugee immigration intake in our history. Melbourne s popln is growing by 97,000 net pa under Turdbull s corrupt big business driven corrupt immigration SCAM. It`s clasic fascist divide and rule politics = disrupt Melbourne and Syd by importing thousands of unwanted right wing wealthy immigrants, foreign students, 457 Visa workers and see what happens. Australian voters also clearly do not support current immigration levels, as confirmed by the five most recent opinion polls supporting lower immigration:OVER DEVELOPMENT ROAD TRAFFIC CHAOS— INFRASTRUCTURE MELTDOWN—-HOUSE PRICE HELL—HIGH RISE CHOOK PEN TOWER BLOCKS LOSS OF OUR HERITAGE —NATURAL HABITAT and BIO DIVERSITY—OUR QUALITY of LIFE THE END OF THE AUSSIE BACK YARD — SYD AND MELB ARE BEING destroyed.
    Recent surveys . BUT YOU DO/SAY NOTHING .
    Australian Population Research Institute: 54% want lower immigration;
    Newspoll: 56% want lower immigration;
    Essential: 54% believe Australia’s population is growing too fast and 64% believe immigration is too high;
    Lowy: 54% of people think the total number of migrants coming to Australia each year is too high; and
    Newspoll: 74% of voters support the Turnbull government’s cut of more than 10% to the annual permanent migrant intake to 163,000 last financial year.

  68. Claudia

    I don’t understand: If building more housing is at least 25% of your agenda-as expressed in your logo-how serious can your party be about reversing domestic population growth and immigration? Or is it mostly
    just a lot of rhetorical doublespeak? As American real estate urbanizer Roger Tilles was fond of saying to his political allies “If you build it they will come”. It only stands to reason that the more your urbanizers keep paving over green space and build housing on it the higher your nation’s human numbers will grow. Please don’t doom yourselves by becoming another
    endlessly worsening environmental nightmare, drowning in people, like

  69. Jeff Dorset

    Claudia ……” If building more housing is at least 25% of your agenda-as expressed in your logo ” can you publish a link to the logo. I wasn`t aware of this.

  70. Elsie Harl

    I couldn’t agree more with this article. It is literally impossible to build the infrastructure fast enough for the rate of growth so of course everything must suffer. The impact on the environment of rampant unplanned development is breaking my heart.

  71. Andrew Smith

    Neither here nor there the binary of ‘immigration’ and/or ‘population growth’ linked (without compelling evidence) with any perceived ill in Australia e.g. environmental degradation.

    It’s not original as same trope obsesses the Anglosphere of Australia, UK and USA nowadays, but all joined up?.

    Question for the writer of the article, have you ever met John Tanton (former head of SA earlier SPP’s Mark O’Connor had hosted him in Canberra)?

    From Malcolm King some years ago in Online Opinion:

    ‘The Stable Population Party (SPP) is the bastard child of Big Brother’s persuasive social engineering methods. It has been succoured by the Optimum Population Trust (now called Population Matters UK) and had, through one of its Senate candidates, links to right wing anti-immigration figures such as John Tanton and the Social Contract Press in the US’

    In fact the roots were the Rockefeller, Ford and Carnegie supported ZPG Zero Population Growth (John Tanton, Paul Ehrlich/Club of Rome ‘Limits to Growth’ and Paul ‘Sea Shepherd’ Watson)

    More particularly Tanton (an admirer of the white Oz policy), now in nursing home, was described as the ‘most influential unknown man in the US’ and an admirer of the white Australia policy (which is quite normalised and passe in Australia nowadays), and whose network has informed to varying degrees, Trump, Brexit, European nativists and mainstream media.

    The SPLC Southern Poverty Law Center has tracked Tanton, his networks and ideology for decades now:

    ‘In His Own Words: “I’ve come to the point of view that for European-American society and culture to persist requires a European-American majority, and a clear one at that.”

    – Dec. 10, 1993, letter to the late Garrett Hardin, a controversial ecology professor.’

    One needs to go back over a century to see the pseudo scientific roots of socio-Darwinism via Darwin’s cousin Galton and the (pseudo) science of eugenics and racial hygiene, good old WASP class structure.

  72. Dr Alexander

    Stephen Bullied:

    “Part of the problem as to why people are reluctant to speak up about the policy of continual growth of population is that when one does so it is assumed that one is a racist…A clear message is necessary which must not be allowed to be hijacked by the racists, or religious bigots.”

    Absolutely. It is essential that we recognise this. Issues of sustainability are blind to race, religion and ethnicity, but once we start to drift down the ‘ideological’ track the discussion gets lost. No doubt there are a relatively small % of people with a racist agenda and this should always be called out. Similarly, people who want to look at every issue through the lens of race, identity politics and victimhood impugn topics that are fundamentally scientific and have a much broader scope.

    Even though this thread was prompted by an article about the environment various contributors came primed with well-worn rhetoric about race – off they went like greyhounds. Typically they are the first to mention race and their pantheon of post-modern sinners and often they succeed in shutting debate down of going off in huff, outraged.

    Unfortunately the internecine agendas within religions, PC identity politics, post-modernism and racially motivated groups contaminate discussions. Rather than lead the debate I suspect that The Greens have sought to capitalise such far-left ideology. Ironically that have abandoned ‘sustainability’ for a social justice agenda that has them wedged.

    Many of Sustainable Australia’s policies seem to reflect the sensible and environmentally aware centre. It’s good to see that back on the political agenda. Getting the word out will be the next challenge given a hostile media and a well funded industry public relations campaign.

  73. Dr Alexander

    Andrew Smith

    What are you saying mate? Are you claiming that Sustainable Australia is part of a global conspiracy linked to Rockefeller, Ford and Carnegie?

    Come right out and say so – please!

    And you’re also suggesting that because this fellow called Tanton (who I’ve never heard of) was apparently “an admirer of the white Oz policy” this dooms the idea of living sustainably?

    This is the first example of a ‘thought crime’ transmitted from one person to an entire environmental movement via ‘admiration’ for a totally unrelated and discredited policy. Truly a spectacular observation Mr Smith. One hopes that you are not a judge.

    But you go much further, and oh my, you do not disappoint Mr Smith:

    “One needs to go back over a century to see the pseudo scientific roots of socio-Darwinism via Darwin’s cousin Galton and the (pseudo) science of eugenics and racial hygiene, good old WASP class structure.”

    Thus, in one hit, Andrew Smith links social-Darwinism, eugenics, racial hygiene and the WASP class structure – and serves this up as something to do with the current topic – sustainable management of natural resources.

    Indeed, it is a magnificent and impressive conspiracy theory. Count them up if you will:

    Rockefeller (1), Ford (2), Carnegie (3), social-Darwinism (4), eugenics (5), racial hygiene (6) and the WASP class structure (7)

    Bingo!…..but where is Hitler (8 – garden gate)?

    Social Darwinism has been dead an awful long time – it was killed by science and Darwin himself, as it was totally inconsistent with his theory.

    Strangely those white European (who you seem to dislike so much) fought a war called ‘World War II’ (have you heard of it Mr Smith?) to dismantle an regime that used racial hygiene and eugenics. Some 40 million ‘evil’ white people died in the process. Plenty of Australians have relatives who died in that war too Mr Smith.

    Of course it is estimated that some 60 million Chinese died in famine, genocide and murder as part of the war and oppressive communist regime where it would be hard to imagine that the WASP class structure had much direct involvement. But would it be racist to mention such things Mr Smith? Probably.

    I don’t think that we need to take Andrew Smith seriously now. It’s hard to even be a little bit cross with him; even Alex Jones would pause to think this lot over.

    Keep ’em coming Mr Smith.

  74. Kaye Lee

    I will never understand why people who are trying to win votes for their party attack those who ask questions or bring up doubts or concerns.

    You will not win people over by belittling them or dismissing them.

    Your own comments cause me some concern when you say things like “Strangely those white European (who you seem to dislike so much) fought a war called ‘World War II’ (have you heard of it Mr Smith?) to dismantle an regime that used racial hygiene and eugenics.”

    We had a pretty effective eugenics program going on right here in Australia as they did in the US too.

    Sustainability is a crucial issue that must inform all policy decisions, but there is always a concern about how this discussion is approached and your last comment underlines why – talking about white Europeans fighting to save us while those Chinese commit genocide.

    My father fought in WWII. He wouldn’t appreciate those sort of comments.

  75. corvus boreus

    Kaye Lee,
    Can you see any discussional value in the 7:24 post by Andrew Smith?
    Personally, as one who sees environmental validity in the idea of Australia making some reductions on current levels of voluntary immigration to help reduce our population growth back from the current rate of stacking on another million people every 3 years (a blatantly unsustainable increase), I don’t really appreciate some conspiracy-monger assuming or inferring that me holding such a view automatically means that I am some kind of white supremacist who supports racist eugenics and operates at the behest of some Rockefeller/Carnegie agenda.

  76. Kaye Lee


    I would never call you racist and you know my opinion of conspiracy theories. As soon as anyone mentions Rockelfeller I sigh. I absolutely agree we need to talk about sustainable levels of migration but I also view it in a global context. If you are worried about overpopulation, girls will have fewer babies later here. People won’t necessarily want to migrate if there are opportunities in their own country (oh and if we would stop bombing them). I get concerned when the discussion tends towards putting up a fence to protect our privilege.

  77. corvus boreus

    Kaye Lee,
    Have a look at the policies of the author’s party, which I listed at 9:12 this morning.
    You will note that they include increases in foreign aid, especially towards female education and access to contraception.

    Domestically, any projected/predicted decline in natural birthrates (currently adding around 150,000 extra per annum), will matter little if we continue to add another 180,000 people per year to our collective ecological impact through immigration intake.

    Add to this that the processes of climate shift already locked in by our prior actions (let alone future damage) will more than likely drastically alter the nature of the land that we occupy, and, in all likelihood reduce our sustainable carrying capacity to well below the current levels (which are likely already well exceeded).

    We really do need to slow the phuq down with the rampant embiggering.

    By the way, I happen to think that the native biodiversity of our island continent is one ‘privilege’ well worth protecting

  78. Kaye Lee

    I have to agree with you cb. I just want it discussed carefully.

    I don’t get the whole “jobs and growth” mantra. Our motto should be “Share and reuse” but we aren’t very good at that. We have enough, we don’t need to grow. But we do need to share better.

    I also have optimism about blue-sky thinking or verandah dreaming as I call it. Who knows what the next generation will think up. We do have a lot of space. I am confident smart young people will work out how we can use it better.

  79. Dr Alexander

    Ms Kaye Lee

    Firstly, it is not my party that I am trying to ‘win’ votes for. And if you are defending Mr Andrew Smith’s attempts to use conspiracy theories as valid ‘doubts and concerns’ then you have a very large tolerance for crackpot ideology. His diatribe implying that motivations for ecological sustainability, or the concepts that it embraces, are any way related to such a nasty and cooked up pedigree is a provable fabrication. It is an utter distortion to suggest that these are valid ‘doubts and concerns’. They should receive the contempt they deserve as should all nasty conspiracy theories designed to contaminate and vilify. Yet I encourage Mr Smith to keep repeating them and give voice to quality of the arguments that oppose ecological sustainability.

    You suggest that I am:

    “Talking about white Europeans fighting to save us while those Chinese commit genocide.”

    Clearly not if you read what I just wrote. I am pointing out that that the much maligned westerners fought a war against people who actually did promote eugenics, genocide and racial purity (characteristics that Mr Smith believes to be unique to white people (“WASPS”). Such horrid motivations are common to our species, not one culture or race. History abundantly demonstrates this by many case studies (and not just totalitarian states in China). Hence I am in awe of the hypocrisy necessary to be happy to make racial slurs as a way to (presumably) oppose them. All races and cultures are capable of barbarity.

    It’s called racial prejudice to associate ‘eugenics, genocide and racial purity’ with one culture or race – and history is well and truly against you. It is simply a pathetic far-left ‘shaming tactic’ to attempt to falsely associate these horrific values with the motivations of people who seek to live within our ecological means.

  80. Kaye Lee

    Dr Alexander,

    I get the feeling I am significantly older than you. I also get the feeling that you are preparing your defensive responses before you actually read/understand what others have said.

  81. Dr Alexander

    Ms Kaye Lee – I have a feeling that such a response is pretty short on detail! I responded to your reply to my criticism of Mr Andrew Smith’s conspiracy theories. Despite my perceived youth (why thanks!) my comprehension skills are still reasonable and I’m satisfied with what I replied. I have read your other comments, many of which I agree with. However I will not apologise for my robust response in the first instance. For far too long this issues (sustainable population) has lived in the shadow of those who seek to discredit, impugn and imply ‘racist’ opprobrium. We have tolerated cranks and crackpots far too long and emboldened them by doing so. However I would hate you to think that I am associating you with Mr Andrew Smith’s ilk. I am not.

  82. Megan Bartley

    Australians are moderate politically and want a balance between development and healthy environment but they are also not stupid. They know they are being gamed on immigration. We all know it’s just being used to keep down wages and drive demand for development.

  83. corvus boreus

    Dr Alexander,
    Full respect to your contributions.

    I’d just like to add a few quibbling provisos regarding WW2.

    If you include the Sino-Japanese conflict in that definition, then you definitely have a situation where elements of inter-Asian racial ‘theory’ were included in the reasons for conflict, and contributed to the levels of atrocity (The Japanese army are even reported to have conducted eugenics experiments upon the occupied Chinese population).
    Similar applies to some of the other Japanese invasions.
    The concurrent Chinese civil war is a complication I won’t go into.

    In the European front, of the forces lining up against Hitler’s regime (with it’s policies of eugenics and genocide) many were from nation states who still held colonial/imperial possessions where indigenous people were classified as lower tier or non citizens.
    The US army that liberated the inmates of Auschwitz was an organization that still practiced a policy of racial segregation.

    As you said, racism is not an attitude that is strictly confined to any nation and ethnicity, nor is it a term that should be applied in an indiscriminate fashion.

  84. SteveFitz

    Barry – Since you said “please explain”. It’s a mute point now and off topic but, what you missed was “15 metres below sea level” and, a thinking person would have picked up on that. Same as Snowy River hydro, the turbines that generate electricity are driven by water flowing down hill or, gravity. This was merely an example of anything’s possible as in “not too Star Trek” so don’t go looking for a potential waterfront property on the shores of Lake Eyre any time soon.

  85. Mike

    The genie is out of the bottle, something has been done or created which cannot be changed or stopped, especially something which some people regret.

    I don’t regret being born in the 1960s . I have seen and lived the unique Australia.

    The current and future global Australia will be interesting to see but it wont be better.

    I feel sorry for the native fauna and I miss them . I remember wild Kangaroos and Koalas in the Parramatta district.

    Unfortunatley the greedy humans control the governments and endless growth is our destiny.

    Australia is a big Easter Island . The Earth is a bigger Easter Island. Someone is going to cut down the last tree.

  86. Dr Alexander

    corvus boreus (Mr Raven)

    To be honest I was of two minds about the value of going down the race rabbit hole – but I’m glad we have. I’m really pleased to read your summary.

    Beneath it all is out species’ inherent tribalism. Ironically some have now even formed up into tribes that oppose racism and oppression by using the same methods as those who are guilty of it.

    I’m all for retrospectives that honestly depicts racial motivations and prejudice, but it takes profound myopia to finger one race or group as its originator. Ever since modern Homo sapiens diverged into “races” it has existed – and even before.

    When Jane Goodall reported on the Gombe Chimpanzee War some insight into the nastiness of close human ancestors was revealed:

    Unless we accept common failings in humans and apply some more thoughtful analysis we are doomed to be tribal and self interested. Apparently, we’ll even war about who is the most racist.

    It is completely true that racist policies have been, and still are, pursued by many cultures and states. The very idea that racism is unique to “WASPs” is fantasy. An honest discussion might diverge into discredited western “race science” and also the ‘cast’ system of India. It might even delve into the contemporary use of stateless people in Asia as a cheap labour source, justified by their different ethnicity.

    When we bandy the term ‘racist’ to discredit people rather than ideas we cheapen the term for the sake of demonstrating our virtue and in that way attempt to push the responsibility of a human flaw onto others. I’m not sure that the people who parrot the term the most have much understanding of the origin of racism and tribalism.

    Another human myopia is anthropocentrism. The idea that we may consume the world’s resources rapaciously and with no consequences (because we are special). It is a common theme of our species, not one race.

    Concerning the sustainable population issue, those who send us down the rabbit hole of race are a major drag on us collectively addressing common failings of our species. Sustainable use of our natural resources is not concerned with race. The term ‘population’ has no implied reference to race. A ‘sustainable’ population is one that permits future generations to enjoy a good quality of life – whatever their race, creed or colour. It also permits other biota to sustain their populations.

    How do we get this message across to those who look at every topic through an ideological lens that sees racial motivations lurking around every corner?

  87. Barry Goldman

    Further to Dr Alexander’s comment, and to further support his contention that we must not let ‘racism arguments’ hijack the underlying discussion, I’d like to point out to readers that racist and tribal behaviours are instinctive and have had, until recently in our evolutionary history, very significant survival value. Racist and tribalist behaviours are real! It is pointless denying them! They are everywhere – just look at a primary school playground, or go to a football sporting event.
    That is not to say I condone modern ‘racist’ behaviours and policies. They must however be kept under control (think of food eating and etiquette, sex, property boundaries and territoriality etc).
    And there are many ‘instinctive’ behaviours that in a modern society are no longer tolerated.
    The point here is to not deny these aspects of human behaviour, but to recognise them, and as a ‘civilised’ society, learn to suppress them and develop intricate laws and regulations to that end.

    And of course population control and racism are NOT the same thing and it is so disappointing to see so many people confusing or conflating these issues (as Dr Alexander bemoans).

  88. Johannes

    @Mike re “Someone is going to cut down the last tree”

    I can’t prove that you are wrong (as far as I understand your implication) but that is a very defeatist attitude.

    We can at least speak up and try to prevent that from happening.

  89. jimhaz

    [I couldn’t agree more with this article. It is literally impossible to build the infrastructure fast enough for the rate of growth so of course everything must suffer. The impact on the environment of rampant unplanned development is breaking my heart.]

    I noticed on QandA a few months ago (last time I watched) where the majority were still pro-immigration and they tried to blame our current problems on a lack of adequate government infrastructure planning for the high number of migrants. It was as if people thought that this was the key. Sorry that is not how politics, thus government works – the entire history of centralised government on this earth shows there is ZERO chance of that happening, it is all just platitudes, particularly now that politicians have almost no ethics and are completely trapped by the needs of the current electoral cycle and development donors. Can anyone imagine that the current NSW liberals, which is a party consisting only of development lobbyists, would plan on a standard of living and sustainable basis. Not a chance whatsoever. Whenever such things are mentioned in develop plans they are as a short term appeasement of the local residents and generally get left of as the development occurs.

  90. jimhaz

    [We can at least speak up and try to prevent that from happening]

    Only if the maternal instinct in women such as Kaye is put to the side. That is the underlying reason for the left being pro-immigration.

    For example Kaye said above:

    [Make it easier for us to spread out]

    The worst thing we could do is to spread out as that just means wider spread destruction – we humans are insatiable. It solves nothing whatsoever.

    The closest times I had with my father and uncles involved fishing – those were the times we spent closest to being natural and the times we detached from the maternal. Inland native fish stocks including a variety of sizes is my guide to whether Australia is over developed or not. The more people move inland the more our rural rivers and creeks will become decimated and deadened, more like water highways than living environments. We see the same low fish stock problem in popular coastal cities on the NSW coast.

    In order to win this immigration debate, to win Australia back, one must logically defeat both the predators on the right and the mothers on the left. One does not have to be a female to be a mother – they just have a personality type based on caring for others (take Andrew Smith and Jon Chesterson for example). The Greens party is full of these mothering types and is why they in actuality become as pathetic as the right in relation to this topic.

  91. peter

    its all about the environment, you and yes me don’t matter a jot. forget about building more and more, we should be trying to get the population down. so lets pull a number out of the air, 15 million . hey presto houses for all, cheap real cheap. if that’s your bag. bam, no more water restrictions. pressure to build more dams flood more ecosystems. no more fights between states over how much water each can rob, from the river systems. hear the cry are you mad, think of the standard of living endless growth gives….. jobs and growth. toughen up princess. all the jobs will disappear ….. when a house is worth 50 thousand due to zip demand about what they are really worth by the way. just look at house prices in Detroit after the gfc when their saw a large population drop in that city take your pick for 10 grand. how many people need to work per family and for how long, without bubble pricing year after year wages rise a little and house/ land prices sour decade after decade. if you are silly enough to pay 1 million for something worth 50 grand give me a call I have a bridge I want to sell. really… have I got a deal for you. what about all the oldes who have money to burn from owing a house, who cares. toughen up princess. even if you eighty. but don’t despair all you oldies, now houses are cheap and power is near free, due to drop in demand and break up of grid into community / local areas e.g. cairns tablelands power collective. power prices fall thru the floor, as theirs no grid to service/ pay for. and pratie enterprise leave the sector in droves as they cant make money form some thing worth so little. and we all start thinking how did the pull the wool over our eyes, all these years. their is plenty of family members not having to do 2 jobs to pay the bills. and only need 1 bread winner per family so they can look after you. so don’t need most of those hell hole, old peoples homes that private enterprise rip them off in. the list goes on an on, massive population drop equals massive lift in quality of life for all. and just rember the more people who live in our closed loop, aust the less your share of its wealth is. but most of all just Remember you and me don’t matter a dam . think….. Australia your standing in it . its not a balance sheet ,its a land. so stop shitting on it. and toughen up. soon as we all do, we will see our real standard of living/ life sour. me personally live on about 140 dollars a week. nowadays,… have had high paying jobs in the past didn’t make me any happier, far less by a huge margin. make my own power with a huge 1000 watt solar system. makes me laugh when I here people say their 6000 watt system doesn’t help that much with their power bill. I know of people in Melbourne who have been cooking all their hot meals for years with home made solar cookers. Melbourne for gods sake. tonite I will dine on mud crab and coral trout platter and chips ….I like chips. no one perfect. cost, a couple litres of fuel. I live like a king. and so can we all… just stop being a drone , change/ adapt. their will all ways be those who will tell you all your family needs to work 2 jobs to get that well out of reach housing dream the trick is to not believe them . and that we need to turbo charge the population rate/growth if you just get of the tread mill for one second, and take a huge breath and see its so….. p.s I can buy a 1/4 acker block here is far north Queensland for 20 thousand. in town, take your pick lovely blocks I would by proud to own. what’s the reason, we arnt overpopulated. 50 archers of rainforest 5 minutes from the sea by road and beautiful hull river and its close island group, paradise. with 1.5 archers of it cleared for the house. all for 100 thousand. list price and we all know what that means could got for less. get the picture yet, change /adapt. you don’t need millions to live like a king just far far less people. me I would try for 10 million in 70 years. and Australia our land the thing your standing in will most certainly thank you, and maybe even me.

  92. Peter Cook

    Good to see Andrew Smith is keeping busy with his smear tactics yet again, accusing anyone concerned about population growth as being racist and eugenicist. This is really one of the few tactics available to the population deniers. Smear people with accusations of racism.

  93. Kaye Lee


    I understand what you are saying but you misunderstand what I am saying. I am not advocating that we open our arms to take on the world’s problems, just that we do our bit in that regard with knowledge of the part we have played in world conflict and the rape of developing nations. Most people would rather not leave their homes and families. If we offered more in foreign aid, did less to encourage wars, and took real action on human rights abuses and climate change, than less people would need to migrate.

    I am very much up for a discussion about population levels and immigration. But I also want to encourage the thinking of clever people who come up with new ideas.

    I believe world population can be stabilised by education and empowerment of women (who then educate men).

    And in the meantime, we need to reduce the stress on cities which is why I say spread out.

  94. Peter Cook

    @Kay Lee

    By ‘spread out’ do you mean more urban sprawl of the big cities? If so, that will destroy more arable land and native habitat. The conventional ‘solution’ to population pressure is not sprawl but urban infill, which of course has a number of other negative impacts such as massive high rise, poorly designed and constructed and not energy efficient either.

    Or, do you mean ‘decentralisation’ by creating or expanding regional population centres away from the big cities? Only problem is, it has been tried several times before, with not a lot of success. People (and including immigrants) move to where the jobs are, and this is mainly the cities. It is virtually impossible to force people to move to areas where there are few jobs.

    You may wish to propose that we should invest in new regional centres — but so far that is not happening, and until it does, doesn’t it make sense to reduce population growth (largely driven by immigration), until there are viable regional options — if indeed that ever happens? (I am sceptical).

  95. Kaye Lee


    Not more urban sprawl. Yes decentralisation.

    I get the jobs and services issues but high speed rail offers the opportunity for us to live in the regions and commute when necessary. Computers allow many of us to work from remote locations. Increased population in regional areas then attracts the businesses and services which provide jobs to locals.

    Because something hasn’t been done isn’t a reason to stop thinking about how it could be done.

    Yes there is an argument to consider immigration levels. There is no point bringing people here if we can’t find jobs and homes for them. As for environmental impact, there is so much we can already do to reduce that and we aren’t. Immigration is not the issue there as much as reducing personal consumption, making it easier to reuse and recycle, reducing packaging and many other things we could and should be doing.

    I still like thinking about how we can use the space away from the coastal fringe.

    And I tend to look on population on a global scale moreso than a national one. Migrants who come here aren’t adding to the world’s population and, because we educate their daughters, they breed later and less.

  96. Dr Alexander

    Kaye Lee.

    You say: “Migrants who come here aren’t adding to the world’s population and, because we educate their daughters, they breed later and less.”

    I think this has missed the point of what a sustainable population is all about.

    A person living in Australia used to have a global ecological footprint of 9.31 (global hectares per person) compared to the global average of about 1.8. This means that for every person who comes to Australia they consume resources that on average are the equivalent of what 5 people use in the rest of the world.

    Let’s say that replacement of the Australian population requires about 2.2 births per couple for it to be sustainable without mass immigration (it probably requires more in practice). Roughly that means that for our domestic population to be static we must have a birth output per couple that is somewhere in the vicinity of > 20 global hectares; in other words a global footprint that would support > 10 people on average in the rest of the world – just to stand still.

    For every person we bring to Australia from a country that has a lower ecological footprint we clearly worsen global sustainability unless we convince couples to have 5 x less children (on average).

    The entire point of a sustainable population is that it is recognises that Australia cannot take more than its fair share of non-renewable resources. Population size is only one factor – ecological footprint is the other. As countries develop their ecological footprint becomes greater and easily makes up for reduced fertility.

    Look at it this way, by keeping Australia’s population low and sustainable we balance the increased consumption of resources that is happening in countries that represent over 80% of the global population. This is where the massive ‘overload’ of consumption will come from that will begin to suck resources from Australia regardless as we contribute the non renewable resources to feed, fuel and help mature economies ‘consume’.

    The very best thing Australia can do is to stay small and reduce its ecological footprint to compensate for a vast increase in ecological footprint happening globally that nullifies reduced fertility.

    At 0.32% of the world’s population, funnelling female immigrants through Australia with the hope that we are making a contribution to global population by convincing them to reduce their fertility is utterly pointless.

    (my figures are a little dated as I have not looked at the recent statistics and their are many ways of calculating ecological footprint. Please feel free to correct them with more recent data)

  97. Peter F

    Kaye, As you say, High Speed Rail does offer the opportunity to diversify. ‘Google BZE High speed rail’ for an insight into what is possible.

  98. johno

    Regular trains have lower carbon emissions than planes, but emissions increase when speed exceeds 200 km per hour. Emissions per passenger from train travel at ultra-high speed, 350 km per hour, are comparable to an Airbus A321. Ultra-high-speed rail is not, as widely advocated, an environmentally friendly replacement for short haul flights. A modal shift from air to high-speed rail will only reduce emissions if trains are powered by electricity, supplied by power stations using renewables, or fossil fuels with effective capture and storage of carbon dioxide emissions. Excerpt from Plane Truth by Rose Bridger.

  99. Kaye Lee

    Peter F,

    I wrote about the possibilities HSR offers some time ago

    High Speed Rail


    The BZE proposal says “This rail network would provide zero emission journeys in the east-coast corridor. It is expected to reduce travel emissions within the east-coast corridor by 28%, which equates to a 13.5% reduction in regional travel emissions Australia-wide.”

    Dr Alexander,

    I take your point but don’t you think it an imperative to try to reduce that individual ecological footprint?

  100. Andrew J. Smith

    Most comments here show how insular, data illiterate and superficially environmental Australians are whenever immigration and/or population are raised; underpins Australians need to be pessimistic about something.

    As opposed to the UN Population Council’s inflated future population levels and ‘nebulous’ NOM that has inflated Australia’s, Deutsche Bank demographers came up with:

    ‘The world population will peak at 8.7 billion people in 2055 and then decline to 8 billion by 2100, according to new research by Deutsche Bank. Its projections contrast drastically with previous forecasts by the United Nations (UN), which sees world population continuing to rise until 2100.’

    Further, statistician, medical and development expert Professor Hans Rosling explains how fertility rates have dropped almost everywhere (ex. sub Saharan Africa) due to increasing prosperity, education and health care leading longevity to become, through cumulative effect in data, the main driver of population growth.

    Don’t Panic – The Facts About Population

    Why would the UN Population Council (media and lobby groups like SA, Population Matters UK, CIS/FAIR US etc.) want to inflate headline numbers and induce angst or fear? The origins of the UN Population Council should make one pause for thought i.e. American Eugenics Society (mainstream pre WWII and post WWII had Menegele’s former boss von Verschur as a member) and one of the Rockefeller (Standard Oil/Exxon Mobil) Foundations, while the Rockefeller family gifted the UN its present Manhattan site.

    Accordingly, one is quite sceptical when hearing ‘sustainable population’ as in some minds it also resonates with ‘final solution’ i.e. eugenics, conservation for the top WASPs, or astro turfing so fossil fuels remain central to energy, while blaming non European immigrants for environmental degradation, and everything else, even if no compelling evidence (because it’s what Australians want to believe).

  101. Nigel Drake

    Forcasts by the UN are always a bit dodgy – but considerably less so than the declarations of a self serving commercial bank.

  102. Dr Alexander

    Andrew J. Smith

    Your conspiracy theory keeps gathering participants since it’s first presentation:

    Rockefeller (1), Ford (2), Carnegie (3), social-Darwinism (4), American Eugenics Society [defunct by 1972] (5), racial hygiene (6) and the WASP class structure (7), UN Population Council (8), Standard Oil (9), Exxon Mobil (10), The Final Solution (11), von Verschur and Menegele (12).

    You say:

    “Accordingly, one is quite sceptical when hearing ‘sustainable population’ as in some minds it also resonates with ‘final solution’”

    Anyone informed about ‘The Holocaust/Shoah’ and ‘sustainability’ would know they have zero to do with each other. Inventing conspiracy theories does nothing to make it so. Attempting to taint people with a legacy of Nazis, eugenics and genocide is utterly despicable.

    This obnoxious rant from a crank utterly disrespects the memory of those who died and suffered at the hands of Nazis and the people of many nations who fought and died in their millions dismantling its apparatus.

  103. corvus boreus

    UN population projections are made within ‘medians’ of future probability based upon historic to current trends, with contingency made for possible variations.
    The Deutsche Bank commissioned study echoes the lower end of UN projections.
    IIASA projections (fairly credible) are slightly lower than the middle of the UN guestimates but higher than the Duetschebank predictions, and foresee human population peaking at around 9 billion somewhere around 2070, before tailing off back to under 8 1/2 billion by the end of this century.

    Of course all this population projection is entirely quarantined from consideration of ‘external’ factors, such as ever-accelerating climate change, which may become an increasingly significant forcing factor of population shifts within our lifetimes.
    Given the manifest environmental-climatic chaos that our rise to 7.6 billion has already induced in the last few decades, I do not find these medium term predictions particularly reassuring regarding a sustainable global future..

    By the way, contrary to what our resident ecologically-illiterate, racially-preoccupied eugenics-obsessed conspiracy-theorist may claim, the ‘Population Council’ is not a UN body, it is a private group that specializes in providing access to public health services and birth control measures in developing nations..

  104. Kaye Lee


    I understand the hesitation in trusting Deutsche Bank but the guy who wrote the report has very good credentials.

    ” he is the Principal Economic Adviser in the Ministry of Finance, Government of India. A Rhodes Scholar and Eisenhower Fellow, he was named “Young Global Leader 2010” by the World Economic Forum at Davos. He is widely regarded as one of Asia’s leading economists.

    Sanjeev Sanyal is also an environmentalist and expert on the economics of cities. He has been a strong advocate of including “walkability” and organic evolution in the way we think of cities. He has been member of the Steering Committee of Urban Age at LSE Cities and is also a Senior Fellow of the World Wildlife Fund. He is the co-founder and Director of GIST – a think-tank that is a pioneer in the field of environmental accounting. He has been closely involved with Aavishkaar MicroVenture Fund which won the UN’s World Business Award for 2006. He has been an Adjunct Fellow of the Institute of Policy Studies at the National University of Singapore and a Visiting Scholar at Oxford University. In 2009, he joined the Board of Governors of AFPRO, one of India’s largest organizations working on food security and has also advised the UK government, United Nations Environment Programme, and other international agencies. He is a member of the Future City Committee of the Singapore government that is creating a long term vision for the city-state.”

  105. SteveFitz

    On the human fossil record – What happens when a growing population consumes all the resources that sustained them. Ask any cannibal why they do it and, the response is always the same: “They’re easy to catch and there’s plenty of them.”

  106. Andrew J. Smith

    And the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute,_Human_Heredity,_and_Eugenics

    Supported by Rockefeller Foundation …

    Environmental writer Fred Pearce

    From ‘Climate & Capitalism’ journalists:

    An evocative and well-documented refutation of the idea that overpopulation is at the root of our many environmental problems today.

    The last was an attempt to highlight the nativist chatter round population.

  107. corvus boreus

    Dr Alexander (24/8, 2:56 pm),

    You asked; “How do we get this message across to those who look at every topic through an ideological lens that sees racial motivations lurking around every corner?”.

    My answer would be to check the validity of their assertions.
    This goes both for their evident provability/disprovability in terms of science and statistics, and also for an honest examination of possible subconscious bias in one’s own attitudes and perspectives.

    If there is credit in what they say, acknowledge and adjust basic position.

    If there is cause for substantial disagreement then select only an appropriate quantity of powder and shot, and make another quick precautionary background check before lining up the fox and letting fly.

    If their claims are patently full of shart (a diarrhetic form of flatulence), then it ain’t worth the bother to follow them any further down the loopy hole.

  108. SteveFitz

    Loosely, the message from Ian Angus and Simon Butler is that pressing climate issues are not a result of population expansion but, the system of accumulation and waste commonly known as capitalism. And, the population debate is a diversion we don’t have time for.

    What I see is that global capitalism is driven by the rich and powerful with one objective, to become richer and more powerful with a blinkered disregard for the wellbeing of the planet and the masses they feed off. It’s a right-wing “all me and nothing for you” ideology protected and promoted by media conglomerates with the same ideology. With bleeding fingers and, as we are all aware, it’s a tough nut to crack.

    Simon Butler is a climate justice activist and co-editor of Green Left Weekly, the country’s leading source of anticapitalist news and, Ian Angus an astute online journalist focusing on capitalism, climate change, and the ecosocialist alternative. They have humanitarian credentials.

    Every single one of us opposes rampant capitalism driven by bling greed. The problem that faces us, is how do we change it when the capitalist doctrine is “you need population growth to drive economic growth.” Subsequently we have the right-wing liberal faction intending to push Australia’s population to 80 million for one reason and one reason alone “population growth drives the capitalist machine”.

    Now we have a serious dilemma which brings population growth back into the debate whether you like it or not. Reducing population diffuses rampant capitalism.

  109. Peter Cook

    @Andrew J Smith

    No amount of extra links to yet more web sites will undo the despicable smear tactics that you use to paint anyone concerned about population growth as racist and eugenicist. You are a conspiracy theorist with no interest in reasoned debate — otherwise you would not be invoking the ‘race card’ in such a despicable manner — as you have been doing on various comment platforms for several years. Well, many of us are now aware of your tactics and don’t expect them to go unremarked.

  110. Andrew Smith

    I only write and/or post what is verifiable and/or documented, citing ‘conspiracy’ theory is the equivalent of claiming ‘fake news’ to terminate a discussion. However, what is not fake is the appalling data literacy of comments, journalists, economists and even demographers.

    Following is an overview of posts from the Quixotic Quant, someone who is both statistically literate with ethical and professional issues with the misrepresentation and ignorance surrounding the NOM net overseas migration, immigration, population and growth.

    ‘The UBS Disaster (‘truly atrocious, and utterly deceptive use of data’)

    In an earlier post I took a swipe at the likes of NAB, the RBA, Bernard Salt at KPMG, the ABS themselves, Business Insider, and Macrobusiness for their persistent failure to mark a sweeping definition-change that completely broke the continuity of the migration data they were reporting (2006 UN Population Division’s change of NOM definition). I should write to them all and apologise for the fuss, because their indiscretion has been completely overshadowed by the perhaps the most ghastly abuse of data I’ve ever seen….…

    ….The litany of data-sins committed in this graph is so galling that I barely know where to start. Let’s start where I started with everyone else: a failure to point out the definition change in Net Overseas Migration in 2006.’

    ‘The Missing Million: Is Australia’s migration rate actually high? (‘Now the baselessness of the Population Ponzi story is exposed’)

    It’s time that someone took a proper tilt at Australia’s high migration rate. No, I don’t mean like Dick Smith, splashing millions on an advertising campaign arguing that such a high rate is unsustainable and that we should return down to previous levels. I mean taking a few hours with the data source to figure out whether Australia’s migration rate actually is any higher than it was at previous levels…

    …The alternative story is that sometime in the mid-2000s the Australian Bureau of Statistics changed the definition of an official statistic called “Net Overseas Migration”. The arbitrary definition they had at the time was malfunctioning, and the next arbitrary one they changed to has been malfunctioning even worse. A blithely ignorant press didn’t even notice the change, let alone query the disfunction that inspired it, so the entire country has been putting their faith soaring population figure that has the integrity of custard. The harder alternative figure shows that our migration rate is actually flat.’

    ‘Missing Million Part II: Boomers in Bali or Kiwis In New Zealand? (‘The statistics need a lot of work to shed substantial light and grasping at the easiest available story is likely not sufficient’).

    This post is a follow-on to Dr. Cameron Murray’s reply to my first post on migration. In my first post I published the following graph demonstrating that Australia’s population included a ‘missing million’ people who we counted as resident, but who were actually overseas at any given time….

    ….Realistically, far more work has to be done to really understand the complex dynamics of Australia’s population. The statistics need a lot of work to shed substantial light and grasping at the easiest available story is likely not sufficient. ABS has recently decided to abandon the requirement for people to fill in departure cards and doing so has actually caused another series break in 2007, which I’ve neglected to give any consideration to here. Apparently, the ABS is realising that the data collected on them wasn’t adding up and isn’t helping.

  111. Kaye Lee

    Peter Cook,

    I hate conspiracy stuff. And the population discussion is an important one. But there are some valid points amongst the weirder stuff.

    Should the thrust of this conversation be population which, of it’s own accord, declines when people are lifted out of poverty, women are educated and employed, and the influence of religion declines, or should it be about how we reduce the ecological footprint of people in developed nations?

    The focus on population inevitably morphs to immigration which is a very nationalist view of a global issue. And once you start talking immigration, some people, our political leaders in particular, move that to the “composition” of the people we will allow in.

    The population will peak and then decline. Will we be smart enough to learn how to consume less and produce less waste and to resuse and recycle and to share better? Those are, to me, the real issues to be working on rather than something that the evidence shows will sort itself out. These sort of discussions stray uncomfortably close to pulling up the drawbridges to protect our wealth.

    If the religious nutters would piss off with their prohibitions on contraception, per-marital sex, abortion, and euthanasia, we would be well on the way to solving our population problems.

  112. Andrew Smith

    For those who do not like discussion about statistics and data integrity, let’s get back to ‘eugenics’:

    ‘America’s eugenics movement, powered by millions of dollars from the opulent Carnegie Institution, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Harriman railroad fortune, sought to extend its reach into Germany. Rockefeller and Carnegie spent Depression-era fortunes to finance the worst Nazi doctors and race institutes. Hitler promptly implemented American precepts with stunning ferocity and velocity. Among the chief recipients of Rockefeller money was top Nazi doctor, Otmar von Verschuer. During the Holocaust, Verschuer’s assistant, Josef Mengele, continued eugenic twin research at Auschwitz; Mengele’s efforts yielded monstrous experiments.’

    and a little bit more history about the Rockefeller Foundation:

    ‘Some of its infamous activities include:

    Funding various German eugenics programs, including the laboratory of Otmar Freiherr von Verschuer, for whom Josef Mengele worked before he went to Auschwitz…..

    ..Beginning in 1930 the Rockefeller Foundation provided financial support to the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute of Anthropology, Human Heredity, and Eugenics,[37] which later inspired and conducted eugenics experiments in the Third Reich.

    The Rockefeller Foundation funded Nazi racial studies even after it was clear that this research was being used to rationalize the demonizing of Jews and other groups. Up until 1939 the Rockefeller Foundation was funding research used to support Nazi racial science studies at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute of Anthropology, Human Heredity, and Eugenics (KWIA.) Reports submitted to Rockefeller did not hide what these studies were being used to justify, but Rockefeller continued the funding and refrained from criticizing this research so closely derived from Nazi ideology. The Rockefeller Foundation did not alert “the world to the nature of German science and the racist folly” that German anthropology promulgated, and Rockefeller funded, for years after the passage of the 1935 Nuremberg racial laws.[38]

    The Rockefeller Foundation, along with the Carnegie Institution, was the primary financier for the Eugenics Record Office, until 1939.’

    Old ‘Chowder’ (Standard Oil code for JD Rockefeller senior) would have been horrified to learn how lax public communications became to allow relationships to be found, largely thanks to John Tanton.

  113. Peter Cook


    You have nailed it, in terms of the link between the current neoliberal capitalist society and its dependence on population growth to maintain Ponzi-style growth, particularly in settler societies such as Australia.

    Population growth fuels the capitalist growth machine and is no friend of progressive struggles for emancipation and environmental sustainability. It is time to dispense with the clichéd binary of Marx versus Malthus. One of the big problems is that the political left are inheritors of the Marx – Malthus debate and this has led to a most unfruitful hardening of opposing positions. This, combined with a fear that any discussion about population will be a concession to racists has led the left to insist that population ought not be discussed at all. (And just to be clear, yes there are racist and nativist positions on population and immigration, which I forcefully disagree with, and I unreservedly condemn any policy proposals based on implicit or explicit racism.)

    I think you will find that that Simon Butler and Ian Angus remain hostile to any discussions about population — at least that is my reading of them. In his book ‘Too Many People?”, Angus even went so far as to say that there must not/ cannot be any discussion of population in the current capitalist society. He says such discussion should only begin ‘after the revolution’, that is, once a socialist/ communist society is under way. I consider that position to be utterly ridiculous.

    Much is made of the need to reduce consumption as the alternative to talking about population. But why must it be a binary either / or? The levels and distribution of global consumption are not static. There is rapid growth of middle classes in China and India. With the overwhelming ideology (advertising etc) of consumption which is promoted globally, high levels of consumption are surely an aspiration of virtually every person on this planet. How can that be sustainable for the 10 billion people forecast by reputable authorities for 2100 (although of course they can be wrong by either under- or over-estimating)?

    A two pronged approach is needed to reduce overconsumption in rich countries but also agree to policies for population stabilisation in high (population) growth countries — both for the immediate benefits this will provide to those countries (less stress on infrastructure, education, food etc) as well as to place less future demand on planetary resources as those poorer countries (hopefully) improve their standard of living. Both prongs of this approach are extraordinarily difficult — involving some sort of degrowth in rich countries and population stabilisation as well as many other reforms in both rich and poorer countries.

    I come back to the basic point: it is not an either / or between population and consumption. That is a false binary constructed in large part by the left because of the Marx – Malthus heritage. It is not based in reality, where population, along with consumption, social structure, and attitudes to nature, are all key drivers of the ecological crisis.

  114. Kaye Lee

    Atheist feminists will save the world while men waste time talking about how on earth we can have less babies.

  115. Peter Cook

    @Kaye Lee

    See my reply to SteveFitz to explain why I do not think it is sufficient to simply not talk about (avoid) population as a key driver in our ecological crisis — either globally or for Australia.

    On the global level, yes, there is some demographic transition (and evolution to smaller family sizes) but it is not a foregone conclusion in big parts of Africa or even parts of Asia.

    But for Australia, the demographic transition is not really the main point — we already have it. Population growth is largely driven by immigration (62 %). Thus immigration is contributing to a strong positive rate of population increase, and there is no constraint on the future horizon which would limit or stabilise that continual increase. Demographic transition has no role in that. If you think there is some future constraint, perhaps you can tell me what it is, and when it is proposed to kick in? With immigration of 200,000 or 300,000 (or even more) per annum forever more, who knows what size we will become. Do we keep going to 100 million, 200 million and beyond?

    I am not being frivolous — I am seriously asking the question. Because those who say we should not talk about population are saying we just keep charging ahead on a high growth scenario. My view is that is not sustainable, and it will end up destroying much of the precious ecology and landscapes of our ancient continent. We do need to talk about it.

  116. SteveFitz

    Kaye Lee – You give away too much – After your farewell post to Malcolm Turnbull you struck me as the eternal diplomat. I’ll put the male v female post down to frustration. With population growth required for economic growth, sooner or later we will hit the wall. The greedy bastards who took us there will concede and hand the reigns to atheist feminists to sort out the mess. With standing room only and society collapsing all around you, what’s your first move.

  117. corvus boreus

    Or we could just get lost in gender politics and obsession over racist attitudes held by a few US oil magnates back in the 1920’s, and let the discussion of a topic of obvious widespread community concern be the patented property of right wing extremists, to whom the current high rate of immigration tends to be an ethno-demographic concern rather than an ecological one, and where the terms immigrant and refugee are inextricably tied together and thrown around as a political chew-toy.

    In the absence of any input from ‘the left’ bar the tired routine of hysterically shrieking “RACISM!” every time the subject is raised, I am sure that the COALition neo-cons and PHONeys will be happy to monopolize the topic to garner sympathy and votes.

    A shame really, because the Sustainable Australia Party really do seem to have some quite sensible policies.

  118. Kaye Lee

    You can’t leave gender out of a discussion about population because, in the societies where women are educated, where the laws allow them to have control over their own reproductive health, where they have employment opportunities, population increase is not a problem.

    As I said before, migration does not increase the global population but usually decreases it. So it gets back to we rich people learning how to reduce our footprint rather than protecting our wealthy advantage.

    Where are the ideas about how we can better use the space we have?

  119. Peter Cook

    @Kaye Lee

    The matter in which you raised gender was an utterly cheap shot, so it is a bit hard for you to expect serious response.

    I do not understand your claim that “migration does not increase the global population but usually decreases it”. It certainly does not decrease it, but it does move it around the surface of the earth. And wherever it moves, it creates local impact.

    I come back to the original point, which you have ignored: why is it not possible to talk about BOTH population AND levels of consumption?

  120. Kaye Lee

    I AM talking about population and consumption.

    What you call a cheap shot was an attempt at a short, perhaps humorous (but obviously not), summation of the population problem after all of us had spoken at length.

    I have already explained how migration reduces population by giving girls greater opportunity and freedom. We could possibly achieve the same thing through increased foreign aid if we stopped stripping them of their resources, both physical and intellectual, and by reducing the influence of male-dominated religions who build their power by building their tribe while subjugating and silencing women.

    The question here has crystallised, for me, into are we talking about sustainable Australia or a sustainable world.

    I am sorry you feel that way Winston. I am genuinely taking part in a discussion. At least from my point of view. Are we not all able to add our ideas and build on them together?

  121. Peter Cook

    @Kaye Lee

    Sorry, but please consider the following: world population size is growing by about 80 million EACH YEAR (net) and projections show this will continue for decades to come. The amount of that annual increase that Australia could absorb, and thereby contribute to your envisaged transformation to ‘reducing’ population, is infinitesimally miniscule. Your argument simply does not hold water. It is factually and logically flawed. It is a dead parrot.

    As I said, a continued high rate of immigration into Australia condemns us to a continually increasing population, towards 100 million, 200 million and beyond. Do you believe there should be a limit?

  122. Kaye Lee


    I hesitate to engage any further in the discussion and I have probably already said the substantive things I wanted to.

    I am obviously aggravating people who think I am trying to dominate the conversation. (I note the same accusation of “wanting to have a blue” has not been levelled at any man expressing his view)

  123. SteveFitz

    We always need to look at the big picture because we are part of it. Population increase impacts us locally, regionally, nationally and globally. When resources are abundant populations booms, when resources are depleted populations crash. We don’t mind seeing that with rabbits, mice and locusts but it’s a bit brutal when its humans. So, let’s try to avoid it.

    The big picture also includes our grandchildren and beyond. We can’t tell the rest of the world what to do but we can certainly get our act together at home. It’s called sustainability and, where are the government projections on that? At some point in time population growth needs to stop. We are slowing down our CO2 emissions to defer climate change and I think we need to do the same with population growth. At least, Sir David Attenborough thinks so.

  124. Kaye Lee

    “When resources are abundant populations booms, when resources are depleted populations crash.”

    That just isn’t true. The areas of greatest population increase are the poorest countries.

    While Western Europe’s growth rates are currently close to zero, sub-Saharan Africa’s rates remain higher than 3%—that is, still higher than the peak growth rates recorded for the world at the beginning of the 1960s. Moreover, in many cases there has been divergence in growth rates. For instance, while India and Nigeria had similar growth rates in 1960 (around 1.7%), they took very different paths in the following years and thus currently have populations that grow at very different rates (about 1.26% for India compared to 2.67% for Nigeria).

  125. Winston

    Kaye is like a Bob Brown re; Greens blown climate deal last decade; wants perfection instead of having the deal that’s possible while still holding the cards whilst still staying in the game and remaining in control. And making sure people-power still holds sway before it gets too big and uncontrollable via Corporate greed. Australia and it’s people and land must always come first.Overpopulate this place and it is beginning of the end in so many ways.

  126. Winston

    I don’t have an agenda on genders.

  127. Kaye Lee

    I am not disputing the need for a discussion about immigration. I just want it to be put in perspective.

    Every year, a couple of hundred thousand people come to Australia. Our immigration policy means that the majority of them are skilled workers.

    This information is from late 2016 so somewhat dated but “Jordan, which has taken in more than 2.7 million people, was named as the top refugee hosting country, followed by Turkey, over 2.5 million; Pakistan, 1.6 million; and Lebanon, more than 1.5 million. The other top six nations were Iran, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo and Chad.”

    Get back to me when we have a real problem. Oh, and I don’t think traffic jams actually count in comparison.

    As for “Australia and it’s people and land must always come first”, that’s the argument that they are using to suggest we shouldn’t take action on climate change because coal makes us rich. Will we do opium poppies next because, gee, if they don’t buy their heroin from us they will get it from someone else and it won’t be as good as ours.

    Oh wait, our next thing to look after Australia is to become one of the top ten arms manufacturers, so we can make more refugees for other countries to look after. But we’ll be richer.

  128. Winston

    Great Idea, It would be great if we could grow our own poppies.Not sure what your fighting for or where your going?

  129. Kaye Lee

    Not fighting anything. Just discussing sustainability with some context and accountability.

  130. Peter Cook

    @Kaye Lee

    Let us return to the key point of William Bourke’s article:

    “The latest federal government State of the Environment report, released last year, stated that Australia’s natural environment is being placed under acute strain from rapid population growth, and that it’s amongst the main drivers of environmental problems such as land-use change, habitat destruction, invasive species, and climate change.

    “There are few better policy solutions to help protect Australia’s environment than abandoning plans for a ‘big Australia’. We’re not just headed for 40 million by 2050. It’s 80 million by 2100, and so on.”

    Kaye, if you think that this ongoing environmental deterioration, which is sure to be much worse at 40 million and then 80 million, can be avoided by simply having few clever ideas, then I fear you are sadly mistaken. This is not just about traffic congestion, as you try to claim. This is about an ancient continent and ecosystem, which as far as I am concerned, is worthy of protection and stewardship — part of which must involve stabilisation of our population.

    The very real problems that exist in the rest of the world (eg middle east) need to be addressed in other ways, including foreign aid and social structural change, and Australia should make a contribution in this. However, to think Australia can serve as some sort of ‘population sink’ to absorb the tens of millions of refugees (not to mention the many more economic migrants), is deluded.

  131. Andrew Smith

    Moving through and beyond WWII via ZPG Zero Population Growth, those old ‘fossils’ do not give up promoting fossil fuels through PR constructs and astro turfing to appear ‘liberal and environmental’, and contributing to environmental or climate rules and regulation debate.

    Firstly, unfortunately there is sustainability and ‘sustainability’, one carries normal meaning while another is quite loaded and ambiguous (like ‘resilience’) when related to ‘population’ and ‘environment’, thanks to the Club Of Rome, including criticism from the University of Sussex team which investigated the ‘Limits to Growth’ theories:

    ‘An interdisciplinary team at Sussex University’s Science Policy Research Unit reviewed the structure and assumptions of the models used and published its finding in Models of Doom; showing that the forecasts of the world’s future are very sensitive to a few unduly pessimistic key assumptions. The Sussex scientists also claim that the Meadows et Al. methods, data, and predictions are faulty, that their world models (and their Malthusian bias) do not accurately reflect reality’

    Who sponsored and/or hosted the Club of Rome?

    ‘So, what exactly is the Club of Rome and who are its members? Founded in 1968 at David Rockefeller’s estate in Bellagio, Italy, the CoR describes itself as “a group of world citizens, sharing a common concern for the future of humanity.” It consists of current and former Heads of State, UN beaureacrats, high-level politicians and government officials, diplomats, scientists, economists, and business leaders from around the globe.’

    Related were stakeholders in other fossil fuel related industries VW Foundation and Fiat:

    The following article in AIMN also is relevant, ‘Why are we letting the fossil fuel industry make the rules on climate change action?’ penned by Kaye Lee.

    Why are we letting the fossil fuel industry make the rules on climate change action?

    Very clever and well thought out long game by Exxon Mobil, auto and related, with seemingly unrelated public face but all roads lead to Rome…..

  132. Kaye Lee

    Peter Cook.

    Yes let’s return to that State of the Environment report….

    “The main pressures facing the Australian environment today are the same as in 2011: climate change, land-use change, habitat fragmentation and degradation, and invasive species. In addition, the interactions between these and other pressures are resulting in cumulative impacts, amplifying the threats faced by the Australian environment.

    Evidence shows that some individual pressures on the environment have decreased since 2011, such as those associated with air quality, poor agricultural practices, commercial fishing, and oil and gas exploration and production in Australia’s marine environment.

    During the same time, however, other pressures have increased—for example, those associated with coal mining and the coal-seam gas industry, habitat fragmentation and degradation, invasive species, litter in our coastal and marine environments, and greater traffic volumes in our capital cities.”

  133. Andrew Smith

    Notice one of those commenting, mostly targeting Kaye Lee’s comments, should know this already as their website it includes:

    Population Matters
    Population Reference Bureau
    Sustainable Population Australia’

    All joined at the hip by the ‘Anglosphere’ (UK, US and Australia or nativist disarray amongst conservatives), eugenics, ‘sustainability’, pseudo science, Club of Rome, Paul Ehrlich and John Tanton.

  134. corvus boreus

    How to best make use of our land and sustainably (apart from not force stocking it with ever-more humans)?
    Off the top of my feathered head, here’s a few ideas not yet listed;

    Tougher environmental legislation and enforcement of water, soil and vegetation protections, with bans on any right to further holding/managing.imposed for repeat/serious offenders.
    Greater priority given to health of catchments and headwaters, with projects like vegetative erosion control.
    Principal upstream priority for surface water allocations (after environmental flows) to be dedicated to food production.
    Incentives to minimalise distance in transportation of foodstuffs to recipient markets (localised food-sourcing).
    Where possible, encourage household catchment/storage of surface water With appropriate filtration), and provide incentives for things like grey-water reticulation systems.
    Get rid of any existent baby bónuses (not that Im’racist against humans, I just dont’think we should bribe people to have more).

    …oh, yeah, and some there should probably be some serious planning attention given to the possi-probability that our near future will herald a stripped and drying land of increasingly failing crops (don’t mention the bees), and ever-ragier fires surrounded by ever-rising oceans yielding little but jellyfish in plastic sauce.

    Ps, As another poster observed, there is a tendency for apes tend to get nasty when faced with pressure crises.

  135. Kaye Lee


    We may disagree about stuff but I always appreciate your informed contributions.

    My real problem in this whole discussion is that, compared to our comparatively small population increase, there is so much we could be doing along the lines of what you suggest if we were really discussing sustainability, I fear that it is not the main thrust behind some people’s arguments against migration.

    Eg “However, to think Australia can serve as some sort of ‘population sink’ to absorb the tens of millions of refugees (not to mention the many more economic migrants), is deluded.”

    Our refugee intake is way less than 20,000. Let’s get real here.

  136. corvus boreus

    Kaye Lee,
    If baser motives than sustainability manifest in commentary, then by all means let fly.
    But suspicion of underlying motive shouldn’t preclude examining possible validity in contrasting viewpoints.
    (yeah, I know, a hole either end and suck the egg dry)

    If you want a ‘populist’ idea that is actually on topic, here’s one;

    To help support the idea of a ‘drastic’ decrease in voluntary immigration, there should be a significant increase in our humanitarian intake (if nothing else, just so the rest of the globe doesn’t immediately adjudge us to be racist arseholes).
    I would add to this the rather old-fashioned and somewhat ageist/sexist notion of children and women getting life-raft priority over people with fully formed testicles (how conservative, eh?).
    Uncomfortable truths would also suggest that this priority has validity in a humanitarian sense when you look at the situations in many of the nations/societies from which people flee, where there is often a socio-religious imperatives which deem those possessing a vagina as automatically being entitled to inferior rights (BTW, this doesn’t just apply to hardline-Islam)
    As an added bonus which helps muffle the terrorfied dog-whistle, people with XX chromosomes are pathetically under-represented in the field of ideological mass-murder.

  137. Peter Cook

    @Andrew J Smith

    Thanks for the free plug for my blog, Andrew. As for your smear tactics and conspiracy theories, keep ’em coming, we like some entertainment.

  138. Peter Cook

    @Kaye Lee

    I believe we should have a generous refugee and humanitarian migrant intake, and reduce the intake on the ‘skilled’ intake and family reunion. Overall annual NOM should reduce to around 70,000 to 100,000 (compared to current 240,000). This is the ‘low’ scenario recently modeled in the Productivity Commission report on migrant intake, which yields a population of 35 million in 2060.

    I also agree with the need for much improved environmental management and of course better planning. We need to use all relevant means at our disposal including reform of our democratic institutions to remove domination by vested and corporate interests.

    So I am sure there are many things we would agree on. What I do not accept is the exclusion of the consideration of population as one of the key factors driving our ecological predicament. I am struggling to understand your reasoning on this point.

  139. Kaye Lee


    I am also sure there are many things we agree about. We should be able to anticipate skills shortages and train people to forestall them. I very much disagree about reducing family reunion intake. If someone’s family is here, they are much more invested in the country. The 240,000 figure for NOM includes temporary visa holders so, whilst it adds to environmental impact, it is inaccurate to paint it as population increase.

    In one post you say “We’re not just headed for 40 million by 2050. It’s 80 million by 2100, and so on.” The PC report actually says “Assuming that immigration continues along its average long-term trajectory, it is projected to add another 13 million people by 2060.” Exaggeration doesn’t help in planning.

    And I am somewhat flabbergasted that you assert that I have excluded consideration of population. What I have tried to do is point out how to limit global population increase.

    To be frank, I think many people in wealthy countries like Australia use arguments about migration as a substitute for taking real responsibility for reducing the disgraceful waste and huge ecological footprint that we like to enjoy.

  140. corvus boreus

    By the way, the ratios on this comment thread somewhat echo what I previously said about my personal experiences regarding the broad resonance of this issue.

    Of those making comment;
    There have been 3 contributors who seem to support either current or greater rates of immigration (I include KL).
    There have been 9 people who have made comments that I would class as either ambivalent or unclear.
    There have been 38 others who have either expressed support for reduced immigration rates or simply articulated feelings of environmental dread/doom based upon current trends.

    Ps, During all this whole discussion, I can’t recall one comment that I would consider to be overtly racist.

  141. Frank Facts

    Lets stick to some frank facts about population.

    Mark O’Connor who is the co-author of “Overloading Australia” has a website – Source has 3 maps of Australia showing Climate-Rainfall, Soil Fertility and “Rich Land” that last map shows areas that have both reliable rainfall and fertile soils. Only a very small percentage of Australia’s land mass has good reliable rainfall and soil fertility – I think it is about 5 to 6 % respectively & would appreciate anyone verifying these percetages. How many people realise this ? Based upon this together with drought what is Australia’s true carrying capacity if fossil fuel based fertilizer becomes uneconomic to use ?
    Has any Government asked “”We” The People” to decide what the maximum population of Australia should be ? The answer I think is No & would appreciate anyone able to refute my answer being No.
    Professor Tim Flannery, Australian of the Year 2007, calculated a long-term carrying capacity of between 8 million and 12 million. We had that population in 1950 and 1968 respectively, Source We can Do Better Now it is 25 million.
    How to halt Australia’s population growth.
    A. Vote for a political party that has a population plan to stabilise Australia’s population & do not vote for or put last on the ballot paper political parties that advocate population growth.
    B. Consume water so the major capital cities run out of water as dams and a $ billion desalination plant take years to construct.
    C. The drought continues.
    D. An economic depression occurs together with a large increase in unemployment as per like Greece. Stop spending so less profit harvey Norman. Gerry harvey is a big population advocate.
    E. Our salaries etc. fall and standard of living falls further so no incentive for people to migrate here.

  142. Kaye Lee

    Could you please point out where I, at any point, said that I support current or greater rates of immigration?

  143. Peter Cook

    @Kaye Lee

    My apologies for the error in stating a population of 40 million by 2050. In fact the Productivity Commission scenarios were to the year 2060. In that respect your own quote from page 3 of the Overview of PC report into Migrant Intake is itself misleading. You miss the fact that the Commission’s reference to ‘average long term trajectory’ is referring to a NOM which is an historical average of 0.6 per cent of the population, per annum. That yields a population of ‘around 40 million’ by 2060 according the PC. HOWEVER, for most of this century so far, we have been running at a NOM which is closer to 1.0 per cent of population, which if continued, the PC says would yield a population of ‘close to 50 million’ by 2060 — in other words a DOUBLING of our current population, within just over 40 years. See page 339 of the main report, Migrant Intake into Australia.

    If the latter sort of growth rate continued beyond 2060, it is eminently plausible that we could double the population again, to close to 100 million by 2100.

    The point is, we do have choices in this — as the PC makes abundantly clear in its findings and in the fact that it provides alternative scenarios of population growth. We can choose, through public policy, to set the level of population increase by adjusting the immigration rate.

  144. Kaye Lee


    You make unjustified extrapolated assumptions that there is no point in arguing about. Suffice to say, we will never agree because you only care about Australia and I care about the world. If we truly want to make a difference then we have to accept that we are global citizens and we are using more than our share of resources. That isn’t the fault of migration. It is our greed and selfishness, plain and simple.

  145. corvus boreus

    Kaye Lee,
    I was partly guilty of an ass-u-me, partly being charitable to the pro-immigration cause.
    Revised figure; 2 for increased/current immigration, 10 unclear/undecided and 36 (I miscounted) for immigration reduction.
    My basic point stands.

  146. corvus boreus

    This has little to do with immigration or sustainability, but I’ll drop here anyway as it raised some very valid points.
    Johnathon Pie on President Trump (how & why);

  147. Peter Cook

    @Kaye Lee

    My point stands: it is necessary to address BOTH population AND consumption, in Australia and globally. For whatever reason, you continue to the deny the relevance of population for Australia. I will ignore your comments about which of us ‘care’ more for Australia or the planet — a rather pureile statement.

    Re: my “unjustified extrapolated assumptions”, these are not just my assumptions but also those of the Productivity Commission. Population projections are scenarios which are used to think about the future and then make choices about what sort of future we want. Where we differ is that you deny that we can make any choices about population for Australia — just let it grow at whatever rate. I believe we do have choices and we will have a more sustainable and equitable world if we make those choices for both Australia and globally.

  148. Winston

    Peter you can’t win with Kaye’s comment “you only care about Australia and I care about the world”

    All she’s doing is playing the one uppermanship card.She is not interested in realizable solutions.I rest my case

  149. corvus boreus

    Peter Cook,
    It is funny to examine perceptional bias and note what gets re-actively swung at and what passes straight through to the keeper.
    This goes both regarding acceptance of the veracity of information, and the assumptive ascription of underlying motivations.

    When your slightly pessimistic error in communicating the Productivity Commission findings was pointed out, you immediately apologized and clarified. Good for you.

    The individual who has derided all our environmental concerns as merely being a counterfeit cover for a quasi-fascist racist eugenics agenda (a pretty phuqqen offensive accusation) has also (unaplogetically) made a number of factual errors.

    For example, the Population Council, which provides access to contraception and health care services in developing nations, was described as being both a UN body and an offspring of the ‘Rockefeller Foundation’.
    Neither claim is true.

    The ‘council’ has no direct association with the UN, and was founded by money given by the ‘Rockefeller Brothers Fund’, an organisation founded by members of the next generation of that family in the years following WW2
    The junior Rockefellers probably did so in an attempt to extirpate the generational stain of their fathers’ ‘philanthropic’ foundation being tainted by association with some horrific ideas and practices that it financed during the height of the ‘eugenics.movement’ in the inter-war years.

    To extrapolate for the sake of example, using an IBM computer in the 21st century doesn’t automatically mean one condones that corporation’s associated involvement in Hitler’s Nazi regime’s systematic incarceration and mass murder of those they deemed to be ‘unterminchen’..

    I could make the accusatory suggestion that such misrepresentations of a reputable modern charity are based on an ideological opposition to the idea that females in conservatively patriarchal societies might gain greater control over their own reproductive functions, but that would be implying conspiratorial motivations without providing solid corroborative evidence.

  150. Bob

    I find the comments above very enlightening. They have certainly widened my perspective of the population debate.
    I lean toward Realist’s contribution as being the most succinct and logical.
    ie. It’s virtually a zero sum game – more people, less environment.

    Our chief cities were chosen, in part, for their proximity to fresh water, fertile soils and good access by sea.
    Their founders could never had foreseen that they would be the size they are today, nor can we visualise the size they will be in a hundred years from now. Building ever more houses on our fertile soils seems a poor decision to me.
    Offering money to mothers for having babies seems an unnecessary expense as well as a poor decision.

    I agree with those advocating a cut in migration rates, but as we do not know the short or long term effect upon employment etc we need to do so gradually and with care and compassion.

    We are only organisms ourselves and not immune from extinction, though we seem to be doing so well currently that we risk overstocking the earth.

  151. Dr Alexander

    Andrew J Smith’s MO is worth considering. By smearing proponents of ecological sustainability as being associated with Nazis and eugenics movements he begins from an ideological position that this conspiracy exists. He then cherry picks links to build a narrative that is non-negotiable. The risk of entering into such discourse is that you are forced to begin to refute that you are part of a ‘Nazi-eugenics’ conspiracy. Refuting such claims is like trying to prove a negative – logically you cannot do so and every word you utter in your own defence seems to justify some small merit in the despicable claim.

    As @corvus boreus (August 25, 2018 at 7:04 pm) suggest we should be open to error, test our own cognitive bias and our assumptions. In essence, I think that most people on the thread are wanting an ‘evidence-based’ policy on population that recognises that population is linked to sustainable resources use; two sides of the same coin. While it clearly has an ‘ethical’ dimension this is quite different from the moral dichotomy that Andrew J Smith is attempting to create i.e. if you support a sustainable population you are a bad person who must be tarred with the legacy of Nazis and the historic eugenics movement.

    Andrew J Smith’s is clearly a strategic approach to shame and promote a sense of ‘risk’ should you provide public support for sustainability. It is a public relations strategy that seeks a strategic goal. This approach is not new. It is well know to scientists involved in the global climate discussion.

    Hence I don’t feel that it is possible to engage with Andrew J Smith without in some way contaminating and misdirecting the discussion – and I feel that this is his objective. It is logically impossible to disprove many things i.e. – that something does not exist or that bad guy A did not meet bad guy B in 1920 and make a racist comment etc.

    If such a narrative is skilfully managed using a multiplicity of participants that already have a tarnished name that live in the public psyche, Andrew J Smith begins to play upon the idea that the ‘weight of evidence’ suggests that there is something in what he says. But in effect all he has done is to weave a narrative so complex that it is impossible to unpick 100% (90% maybe, but that lingering doubt is what he seeks).

    Of course this has been the strategy used by ‘industry funded’ think tanks who produce propaganda, fake news and media strategy to discredit scientists and policy makers who might be promoting strategies that are not in a corporate or industry interests in terms of their bottom line.

    In all, you have two very different approaches playing to two different rules of discourse on this thread. But it is worth considering that some people opposing sustainability or stable population are not ‘members of the public’ as such. They may well be players for the players who have a big interest in maintaining the current policy.

    The danger of treating someone like Andrew J Smith seriously is that you can’t wrestle with a chimney sweep and come out clean. And that’s well known to Andrew J Smith too, who I suspect is making his coin out of doing this as a career.

    There is a big difference between Andrew J Smith’s narrative and the ‘evidence’ that supports the need for sustainability. One is just a story and the other has 1000s of credible scientific, economic, historic and demographic studies. It is clear that we have not woven the ‘evidence’ together well and the MS media has not sought to do so. Yet should we begin on this task an extremely powerful and evidence-based case can be made that will leave Andrew J Smith and his conspiracy theories in the dust where they belong.

  152. Andrew Smith

    That is the issue with the ‘population bombers’ play the conservative (left and right) propensity to promote their negative sentiments, biases and feeling over and above science, evidence and analysis.

    Simple one, if immigration and population are the main reason for degradation of the environment, then why with much lower populations were cities and regions polluted cesspits in the past, or was it an improvement in technology as Malthus predicted may occur, not population growth?

    ‘Climate specialist’ Mark O’Connor (and former head of SA) in fact hosted ‘environmentalist’ John Tanton in Canberra some years during a visit from the US. Tanton, who served with Paul ‘Population Bomb” Ehrlich on ZPG supported by Rockefeller, Carnegie and Ford Foundations; Tanton has been described as the ‘racist architect of the modern anti-immigration movement’.

    Further, Tanton has been influential in developing the academic fulcrum of the white nativist movement:

    ‘The Social Contract Press (TSCP) routinely publishes race-baiting articles penned by white nationalists. The press is a program of U.S. Inc, the foundation created by John Tanton, the racist founder and principal ideologue of the modern nativist movement. TSCP puts an academic veneer of legitimacy over what are essentially racist arguments about the inferiority of today’s immigrants.’

    Obviously by coincidence, not only has O’Connor, but ‘Australia’s best demographer’ Dr. Bob Birrell and associate Katherine Betts have both contributed to the TSCP, supposed people can make honest mistakes?

    For taster of the tone see

    Bett’s effort was a review of Raspail’s Camp of the Saints:

    as highlighted by John Sutherland in The Guardian many years ago:

    Another good, but more credible, read is Fred Pearce’s The Coming Population Crash: and Our Planet’s Surprising Future, someone who knows the history of the ‘population movement’ and science:

    ‘In The Coming Population Crash, veteran environmental writer Fred Pearce reveals the dynamics behind this dramatic shift. Charting the demographic path of our species over two hundred years, he begins by chronicling the troubling history of authoritarian efforts to contain the twentieth century’s population explosion, as well as the worldwide trend toward the empowerment of women that led to lower birthrates. And then, with vivid reporting from around the globe, he dives into the environmental, social, and economic effects of our surprising demographic future.’

    Interestingly some years ago Labor was sucked into appointing a Minister of Sustainable Population, coinciding with the newly inflated NOM kicking in, and the Minister Tony Burke looking mostly nonplussed. Whose idea was that, let me guess, it wasn’t Bob Carr and/or Bob Birrell?

    Now fast forward, ScoMo is splitting Dutton’s former immigration /security department while creating a Ministry of Population (straight out of Huxley’s Brave New World which featured characters such as ‘Adolph Rockefeller’) to do what, dog whistle immigrants, again?

    Meanwhile, I do not hear SA, LNP etc. promoting renewable energy sources and tougher environmental regulation to ‘limit the growth’ of fossil fuels and ensure they are not ‘sustainable’ into the future, why not?

  153. corvus boreus

    Dr Alexander,
    There is a simple tactical factor at play in the routine use of such insinuations/accusations.
    It is the same reason that people routinely employ sledging in competitive sports; it provokes reactive anger, and thus makes the ‘opponent’ lose their discipline and focus.

    To differ, although I acknowledge the possibility that such disruptions may be coming from an operator representing larger concerns, Okham’s razor suggests a narrowly focused obsessive with a thumb-tack firmly lodged in his cushion.
    I would add, based on the last post, one who is patently and unapologetically full of shit.


  154. Johannes

    @Peter Cook “My point stands: it is necessary to address BOTH population AND consumption”

    I would go further … we have to address BOTH, and we have to avoid population growth until we have addressed consumption.

    Progress on environmental problems has been painfully slow, in part due to vested interests, in part due to inertia. In that circumstance, “business as usual” on population growth is irresponsible.


    It is not a question of not caring what happens in the rest of the world. It is a simple observation that we don’t control either policy or political representation in any other country. Lecturing other countries is often counter-productive. We can however lead by example.

  155. Dr Alexander

    Johannes (August 28, 2018 at 4:05 pm)

    Whilst I agree with you, mass immigration/population expansion is a way to avoid facing up to issues of consumption. It permits an old economic model to seem economically viable for a little bit longer.

    In Jarred Diamond’s book ‘Collapse’ he examines why past civilisations failed. One common element is that at the point where disaster can still be averted, ironically the defunct societies do more of what threatens their civilisation and they hasten their decline. The reason for that is simple; those who benefited from the past status quo have accumulated all the political power and make the decisions. They don’t see that it can be in their interests to change or devolve power.

    Mass immigration is the last gasp of a failed economic model. Most who have been following the discussion and science know that you only kick the debt can down the road a bit more by mass immigration – until you run out of road. The reason why mass immigration and population should be priority is that those pulling the policy levers re making us run out of road faster.

    In order to keep the old paradigms going (e.g. coal, roads, low R&D investment, big cities, consumption, Harvey Norman, concrete shoe boxes and debt fuelled asset bubbles etc) those in power who are backed by vested interests need more people to consume and take on debt. It is only when you mandate a sustainable population that they will be forced to change to a more sustainable means of living. Currently, the only way to keep asset prices afloat is to find someone willing to take on more debt than the last owner. Run out of people willing to do that and the house of economic cards comes down. Keep pumping in people to inflate an economy based on this and eventually the environmental house of cards comes down.

    A sustainable population is the best way to bring this change about. Feed the machine with people and all you get are promises to reform its lack of sustainability incrementally. But we no longer have the luxury of time. We have to bring the economic madness to heel. The economic madness does not care about the environmental consequences. They just want to kick that can a little further down the road. The politics of the last week shouts this. In fact this is exactly the dynamic we are witnessing – the powerful and wealthy status quo resisting change.

    Making sure that our population is sustainable means that the games up for neoliberalism and the old economic paradigm. Painful? Sure. But the more the population inflates the more painful it will be to reform for the vast majority.

  156. Johannes

    I think you may have misunderstood what I meant.

    Step 1. Stop population growth
    Step 2. Fix consumption issues (environmental issues more generally)
    Step 3. Revisit what a sustainable population is

  157. Barry Goldman

    in response to Johannes,

    You say “we have to avoid population growth until we have addressed consumption”.


    Do you believe that rearranging the deck chairs will stop the Titanic from sinking?
    We must plug the holes, not put on bandaids.
    Overpopulation IS the problem – it leads to conflict over resources (water, arable land, minerals), habitat loss, environmental degradation, species loss, pollution of aquifers, overconsumption of renewable resources etc etc etc.

    Some people think that we can delay the inevitable by simply reducing our per capita consumption rates.
    But that is not the way the world works. No one, me included, is prepared to majorly reduce their personal wants.
    In fact the rest of the developing world is clamouring to attain our consumption patterns.

    There are a number of humane, compassionate , socially and morally ways we can address the problem.
    Let’s address those instead of beating around the bush with platitudes and ‘feel good’ social engineering issues.

  158. Dr Alexander

    @Johannes (August 28, 2018 at 9:26 pm) and @Barry Goldman (August 28, 2018 at 9:34 pm)

    I think you have arrived at a key issue. Some policy goals can be met perhaps with time (sustainable living) but others cannot be undone once past the ‘point of no return’.

    You can’t undo a non-sustainable population (perhaps over generations – and even then it is equivocal). You cannot even really predict demographic trends into the far future (e.g. perhaps big families will one day be back in vogue?). But you can have a population that allows you flexibility to plan.

    So, what is the best situation?

    Having too many people?


    Having too few people?

    It’s 2 because you can manage that situation without ‘devaluing’ anyone. You cannot magically make the ecological footprint of too many people disappear. You may lie to yourself that ‘everyone’ is equally valuable – but go to India and China and ask yourself if this is practically true? The reality is that people are only “valuable” if they are a relatively scarce “commodity” in our present economic system.

    The only way to reduce populations rapidly is to use the ‘fascistic’ policies that a crank like Andrew Smith thinks we all want to use anyway. But it is the reverse! Having a sustainable population means that there is never, ever, ever any suggestion that some people might want to consider such evil.

    And isn’t that the point that is missed?

    Because we need a population policy so we never, ever, ever arrive at something like the Chinese ‘one child policy’. Let’s not even entertain that possibility for the future. And let’s be clear to cranks like Andrew Smith that it is they who are promoting the this political dystopia. We can see the signs of it now. And we only need to look at overpopulated countries to see the social division and inequality that ‘too many people’ create. It is the views of someone like Andrew Smith that, if allowed to go unchallenged, will take us to the very dystopia and despotic policies that he rants about.

    For it is people who tell us that there can “never be too many” people and that everyone is “uniquely valuable” that are happy to toss the excess onto the street like garbage and find someone else to blame.

  159. corvus boreus

    I did have suspicions about the underlying motivations of Andrew J Smith, so I followed a couple of his links.
    Yep, straight through to sites promoting conspiracies about how scientific concerns expressed regarding climate change are merely a sinister green false flag operation being undertaken in order to promote UN Agenda 21 and install a ‘new world order’. , which leads straight to the ‘sister site’
    Nuff said.

  160. Andrew J. Smith

    CB: If you could actually write a cogent sentence or two clearly stating something of substance I would address it. You seem to egregiouly misinterpet, for some reason, the substance of links posted?

    Much of this ‘population’ and ‘immigrant’ blaming is well documented outside of Australia (not inside, thanks media) about deflecting issues of climate change etc., supported by fossil fuel funding as outlined by JK Galbraith generations ago and more recently Jane Mayer in Dark Money (dominated now by Kochs et al.)

    Like most of the comments, a very simplistic binary is made between population/immigration = environmental degradation, that would not be accepted for a year 12 essay on environment, let alone science. It’s a conservative PR construct of ‘sustainability’, ‘limits to growth’ etc. via the Club of Rome etc. avoiding regulation of fossil fuels (and income streams) based upon Nativism, class and pseudo science while appearing ‘liberal and environmental’.

    Of course this resonates with old fossils like the LNP govt. being manipulated (by fossil fuel interests) into inactivity on environment e.g. climate change (don’t link drought), regulation, infrastructure investment, incentives for auto, encouragement of solar/wind energy and sciience, Barrier Reef, NEG to entrench coal while gas is exported, and avoid renewables.

    It’s anti science, anti humanity and against Australia’s own interests, made easier by lack of science literacy, self interest and ethics (also supporting Trump, right wing coup that Brexit was and disruption in local politics) so no meaningful climate related policies can be made.

    Hardly a coincidence how old fossil fuel and related seem joined at the hip with Nativism, while the public blames (post 1970s) immigrants, letting both the govt and the public off the hook on any meaningful action.

  161. Johannes

    @Barry Goldman “Why?”

    Hopefully my second post clarified what I meant.

    “Revisit” doesn’t necessarily mean “go back to ‘business as usual’ “. It means revisit in light of the changed circumstances. That is an opportunity to consider the situation. It is not an obligation to change anything.

    Based on your observation that noone will be prepared to reduce their standard of living significantly (that’s how I took your observation anyway), it may be that Step 2 never completes, in which case Step 3 is irrelevant. (-:

    But we must stop population growth now. That is the first step. It is easy to do this because population growth is 100% within the control of the government, via the immigration tap – almost all of which is discretionary migration i.e. nothing to do with refugees, which are just a government smokescreen.

  162. Dr Alexander

    corvus boreus (August 29, 2018 at 6:22 am)

    Good sleuthing. Case closed.

    RIP Andrew J Smith. Jog on, crackpot.

  163. jimhaz

    [In Jarred Diamond’s book ‘Collapse’ he examines why past civilisations failed. One common element is that at the point where disaster can still be averted, ironically the defunct societies do more of what threatens their civilisation and they hasten their decline]

    I note that Barnaby Joyce’s reaction to the drought is to seek to divert environmental water to drought-hit areas. This is a sign of what we can expect in the future. Fracking is another thing he is keen on.

    Too many people are incapable of ‘delaying gratification’ – in Barnaby’s case this is clearly evidenced by the cause of his downfall.

  164. Andrew Smith

    Afraid no RIP yet for me, although at least Garrett Hardin did his bit for ‘sustainable population’ and topped himself.

    I understand words and analysis are not the strong point of many, hence, I will write this slowly, to explain and give some overview of the transnational relationships Tanton et al.’s Nativist networks running in US, UK and Australia (possibly why Anglo conservatives are in chaos).

    Similarities, another example of how nativist themes we see in Oz, such as immigration and/or population growth versus the ‘environment’ manifest themselves in different contexts, is UK’s conservative chaos via immigration and/or EU versus ‘economic’ sovereignty AKA Brexit (‘a man alone in the desert has his sovereignty, then becomes thirsty and dies’ a MEP).

    Brexit went beyond just immigration but promoted a ‘steady state economy’ construct developed by ecological economist Herman Daly via the Club of Rome e.g. low growth, withdrawal from supranational bodies, no globalisation, primacy of the nation state, antipathy towards services, no multilateral trade agreements, border control, potential immigrants stay where they are, tariff protections etc. (no issue if you are already have a global footprint).

    UK PM David Cameron was led (too easily) into such a nativist cul de sac when the EU referendum became more about Europe and immigration for Brexiters (supported by the top 1%), while Cameron’s own Downing Street Policy Unit head Sir Craig Oliver described it as a ‘right wing coup’, due to decades of xenophobic dog whistling immigrants and Europe in media (including Murdoch’s, like others they despise EU regulation).

    Population groups cited in Mr. Peter Cook’s comments above and/or blog, had also been promoting similar themes in the UK, US and Australia. The UK Population Matters is interesting (along with its fellow think tank Migration Watch), easily linked to John Tanton in the US and Nativist networks, including in Oz, and FAIR/CIS.

    In US politics, the GOP ignored warnings of Café con leche Republicans from some years ago, leading the GOP to become hostage to Tanton’s people in the administration and government (Kolbach et al.), obsessing about ‘immigration’, hence, full blown Nativism has become normalised (for now).

    The Café con leche Republicans warned of the electoral/demographic disaster waiting for conservatives if they attack ‘immigrants’ and especially non-European e.g. Latinos (their supposed future constituency), and pointing the blame squarely at John Tanton, drawing on his papers at the University of Michigan’s Bentley Library;focusrgn=bioghist;subview=standard;view=reslist

    ‘“Smoking Gun” Memo Proves Tanton Network Manipulates Republicans. Update: This memo is now being shared around Washington, alerting Republican leaders to the pattern of manipulation by the Tanton network. You can find it quoted in this Washington Post article (not anymore, removed).

    by Bob Quasius

    John Tanton is infamous for founding numerous anti¬-immigrant groups, such as FAIR, NumbersUSA, the CIS Center for Immigration Studies, and Californians for Population Stabilization, which not only seek strict enforcement of immigration laws, but also drastic reductions in LEGAL immigration (or slowing down like we observe in Oz). Tanton also founded U.S. English and Pro-English, which decry changes in culture and misrepresent immigrants’ willingness to learn English and assimilate and pursue “official English” policies designed to make America less welcoming to New Americans who are going through the process of assimilation. (Café con leche Republicans, 2016, since been closed down during Trump regime)’.

    Sound familiar? More details on Tanton’s mob here

    Tanton’s CIS has also been linked to Population Matters and Migration Watch in the UK, both like their US counterparts, invest much time into lobbying MPs and messaging through compliant (and credulous) media, Ian Dunt of Politics UK explains well:

    ‘The relationship between Migration Watch and the press is basically that of a conveyer belt. They release an alarming report about how many migrants are coming to the UK, or how much they cost UK taxpayers, and the press treats it like some respectable piece of academic research.

    But Migration Watch doesn’t produce academic research. It produces whatever logical contortion is required to turn facts about immigrants into a weapon to beat them with. They’ll say anything, or ignore anything, in order to turn the UK’s political debate against migrants.’ (Dunt appears regularly on Philip Adam’s LNL on ABC RN)

    Part of the conveyor belt, or as Jane Mayer describes it, ‘the media assembly line’, is how Tanton’s FAIR has just been featured by the ‘quality’ newspaper the Daily Mail UK (without understanding its links to similar in the UK, while also helping Migration Watch and Population Matters astro turf):

    ‘Anti-immigration group FAIR achieves new political clout in Trump’s America, drawing more donations, followers and getting their own people in power – despite being labeled a hate group.

    The anti-immigration Federation for American Immigration Reform has gained new traction in Washington D.C., growing revenue by 73 percent in 2016.
    Despite being labeled a ‘hate group’ by the Southern Poverty Law Center, FAIR’s message has resonated in Trump’s America, reaching millions of new people
    Several former senior FAIR officials now work under the Trump administration.
    The group launched a new ad campaign linking wage stagnation to immigration.’

    Too many Nativists and/or climate change deniers (who seem to operate in unison), virtue signal by claiming to be environmentally responsible by targeting ‘immigrants’ or ‘population growth’, while being both science and data illiterate. Maybe they should consider subscriptions to one or all of these, The Australian, Sky News (after dark), Quadrant or MacroBusiness, more their cup of tea than the normal AIMN content or line?

  165. corvus boreus

    Dr Alexander,
    It was just 2 clicks on 2 links provided, not exactly Sherlock Holmes stuff.

    When faced with a Gish-gallop, it isn’t worth chasing every single botfly in the released swarm, but I do like to catch and dissect a few to examine their veracity, then, if I find them to be full of putrid feces, pass the diced-up fly-crap back to it’s owner..
    I mainly do this to see if, in acknowledging their errors, the poster shows themselves open to differing information.
    In this case the answer is a firm ‘no’, which, in my view, makes the ecologically stultidius conspiracy theorist (who links to sites of climate denial and religious extremism) nothing but a complete WOFTAS.

    As an aside, and on a subject of far more interest and concern than the twisted agenda of some loopy whack-job, what is the latest sit-rep regarding numbers of Vulpes vulpes in Tasmania?

  166. Dr Alexander

    @corvus boreus

    Well, elementary entomological common sense perhaps, but as good as a penny bunger in a bullant’s nest by the look of the hive of conspiratorial activity it has produced. Thar she blows!

    As for Tasmanian vulpes, Andrew J Smith might assure us that the once abundant population was eradicated by a secret government program linked to the eugenics movement, Nazis, the Rockefeller family – and the Tasmanian one-fox policy. He’d assume they’d probably planned it all whilst sitting hooded around a large Huon pine table in the dead of a Launceston night. In truth, I hear that those meetings mostly happened in Hobart.

    Unfortunately Gish-gallop is now popular on the menu and cooked up and served by frass chefs with a 5 clown hat rating.

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