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Population Puzzle - initial comment

ABC TV's Tony Jones' current affairs debate this evening 'Dick Smith's Population Puzzle' provided first prominent Australian, Dick Smith, with a heart-felt concern about the uncontrolled, unplanned immigration surge impacting Australia, then second a rigorous but too brief a debate from nevertheless a fair cross-section of what appeared to be informed observers.

It was a good start and that's all it was. Where to next?

It was disappointing to hear the two ethnic voices, one Asian woman on the panel and a young Bangladeshi man, both critical and disrespectful of deep seated Australian notions of what constitutes Australian cultural values. New Australians do not help their cause when they outwardly condescend local cultural sensitivities. It is read as immigrant prejudice and would not matter which country they were in. Criticism of local values risks unnecessarily inflaming dormant nationalism. And nationalism in Australia is mild compared with that across the subcontinent.

Useful issues were presented from many quarters - Bob Brown from The Greens highlighting the global issue and the finite resource issue, Labor Minister for Sustainable Population Tony Burke MP seemed to have a balanced grasp of the key drivers and problems, Shadow Minister for Immigration and Citizenship Scott Morrison offered constructive input, a developer in the audience pushed the 'growthist line for migrants at all costs, as did trolling boomer John Elliott. The mayor of Mt Gambier presented a constructive tangible example of regional inequality and opportunity. His example is one that should be extended to other regional centres. Other issues raised escape me from short term memory.

Encouragingly, all speakers on the panel and those Tony selected to speak from the audience, offered constructive ideas and input in one way or another. So let's not close off this valuable discussion while the topic is merely at an early chapter in public/political awareness and maturity.

One key observation is that Dick Smith, who dared to initiate the debate and invest much in the documentary, insightfully concluded that at least Australia is mature enough to start publicly debating the subject, but what needs to be thought through next is a national plan for a sustainable population for Australia into the medium term future.

Well done Dick Smith!

May the debate continue into the public arena hereon! CanDoBetter has been leading this debate on population for years, so it is good to see the mainstream media catch up!

Although human population is a global threat, Australians need to embrace the problem of population in Australia first and recognise it as a core driver of social problems in Australia - lowering quality of life, higher costs of living, urban congestion, overburdened public infrastructure, etc. Australians need to become more mature in tackling the debate and not let it slip into unrelated racism and refugee issues. In the process we need to be wary of self-motivated lobbyists and more attuned to the interests of all Australians at heart - indigenous Australians, ancestral Australians, birth Australians, new Australians, Australian society and the Australian disappearing natural environment last, but not least.

Frankly I am so glad now that Big Kev and his 'Big Australia' madness has been condemned to history.

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I watched as much of this as I could stand, I couldn't stand much. The idiocy on display was painful. We had some university lecturer explain that arguments that we are on a path of perpetual population growth and massive overpopulation are "oversimplistic". No they're not. Then someone said that Australia was "selfish" for not trying to relieve overpopulation in other countries by not immediately throwing borders open to 100s of millions of migrants. This would not relieve overpopulation in those countries (those migrants would soon be replaced by new births) but would make Australia grossly overpopulated.

Then the tired old captains of industry bleating about how economic growth requires population growth. Whether they fully realize it or not what they are asking for is perpetual growth, growth neverending, growth until we number in the billions. Then government types talking about "sustainable" population, the need for a "population debate", all the while very carefully avoiding any mention of stopping Australia's population growth, something which is highly desirable and ultimately inevitable but which is anathema to both Liberal and Labor.

I salute Dick Smith who sees clearly where we are headed, which is an Australia numbering in the hundreds of millions or billions of people, and is trying to do something to prevent it. Probably a lost cause, unfortunately, as growing the population is far, far easier and more attractive in the short term than stabilizing it.

Continued population growth after the optimum human population has been reached cannot be in the interests of the members of society. At best, each member on average, necessarily becomes poorer as a consequence of there being more people to share the resources amongst. On top of that diseconomies of scale caused, for example, by crowded transport infrastructure, crowded accommodation, shopping centres or recreation facilities makes each of us poorer still on average than the simple application of mathematical division would indicate.

The fact that a minority of growth lobbysists is able to profit whilst society on the whole necessarily becomes poorer is evidence of hw dysfunctional and undemocratic any society ruled by politicians who actively encourage population growth must be.

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The Population "Puzzle" is not really a puzzle at all, but glaringly obvious! What Dick Smith revealed were cold facts, examples and evidence to follow the dots to draw our own (inevitable) conclusions. The idiocy of population growth, when it is clearly hurting our environment, our atmosphere, our infrastructures, our liveability, and our hip pockets, is no puzzle but obvious! Why do people have such blind spots? The human herding instinct is alive and well entrenched in society. Like the Emperor with no clothes, it takes one person, with clear thinking and a public voice, to reveal the obvious!
There are those in businesses, including land developers and the banks, whose interest in limitless growth are obvious - financial. However, there are the magnanimous ideal types, and the academics, Humanists and religious, who consider population growth as "human rights" issue - a global issue - that needs to be addressed by allowing more people into Australia to share the benefits of our natural resources. Why don't they go to South America? There is a lot of "vacant" land there?
The academics born overseas do not have the sense of Australia's "wide brown land" and vast spaciousness that genuine Australians and indigenous people appreciate.
Our government is paying orchardists to burn their fruit trees, and other market garden areas are being bulldozed for urban sprawl, never to be fertile land again. It shows the massive power of the property investment and mortgage industry in being able to hijack State and Local Councils! As Dick Smith says, we really don't know the extent climate change will have on our food growing ability!
Dick Smith very neatly demolished so many myths FOR continual growth - Defence, skills shortages, ageing population, and prosperity.
The global threat of population explosion is clear, and it must not be imported into Australia.
We must set an example for the rest of the world. Our concerns should be global, but first, we must act local.

The challenge is to find a way for economic growth, without entailing population growth. This is why Dick Smith is offering $1 million for the solution. However, with a steady state economy, without the need for growth to match population growth, surely economic stability would be sufficient. Our society's addiction to economic growth must be matched, to appease the inherent greed for wealth that obsesses our society.

Businessman Dick Smith is offering $1 million to the young Australian who can come up with a solution to bring the country's population under control.

[Source: 'Dick Smith offers $1m to population problem solver', ABC News, 11th August 2010, Paul Miller (AAP)].

Now that's putting money where his mouth is!

Dick Smith has launched the Wilberforce Award in Sydney, arguing that Australia's population doubles every 30 years and that the rate of growth is not sustainable.

Mr Smith says he is not confident the major political parties have the answers to population growth, but a young Australian might have the solution.

He says the world only has finite resources.

"I suppose I'm looking for something like a modern Bob Geldof or a Ghandi or a someone who's going to become famous around the world in communicating the basic fact that you can't always have exponential growth," he said.

is not the ultimate collective aim year in year out to achieve social prosperity, rather than the narrow minded economic growth? Should we not question the assumption that only by increasing population can a society achieve prosperity?

The ABC's online Drum forum has a useful article by ABC TV programme presenter of Stateline in NSW, Quentin Dempster, discussing the new concept of 'Ponzi Demography', that is pre-dated 5th August 2010.
'Joseph Chamie has been quoted as saying: "Like all Ponzi schemes, Ponzi demography is unsustainable. Among its primary tactics, it exploits the fear of population decline and ageing. Without a young and growing population we are warned of becoming a nation facing financial ruin and a loss of national power. Appeals are also made to one's patriotic duty to have children in order to replenish and expand the homeland."

A recommended read is the book by Tim Jackson, 'Prosperity without growth - Economics for a Finite Planet' published by Earthscan (USA) 2009.

The bias distorting the analysis of this problem is the lobbying of politicians pushing for more skilled immigration by those with vested self-interest. Typically this is big donating corporate business targeting cheap imported skilled labour so it doesn't have to spend money on training Australians. It is extreme selfishness since it says to hell with the social costs - that's government's problem!

Any wonder with short-sighted politicians buying the economic line from big donating corporate business, the traditional Australian value of the permanent full time job has been eroded to contracting and casual labour.

I preface this with - "I am not an economist" in the same sense as the well known disclaimer "I don't know much about ART but I know what I like" (but in the case of art I do know) It seems to me that if we did not have constant growth, we could afford maintenance. There is no end to the work involved in maintaining our infrastructure (apologies for using this awful word) and our homes ! Would this not provide economic activity but in a different direction? For example ,my down pipe that I have been trying to get fixed since April would now be replaced! The workman would have been paid and he would be off to the next maintenance job ! Economic activity still happens without a constant influx of new people. If the economy depends on population numbers why aren't the countries who are losing people via emigration closing their borders to the exodus? What is the ultimate goal of ever increasing GDP? Rather than the economy being seen as an abstraction or symbol of our transactions with one another, in the minds of many, it has became an end in itself!

If Australia decides to 'shut the gate' to the world's rapidly growing population, in an attempt to maintain our high quality of life - then...

Surely Australia should at the very least become a world leader in educating, supporting and assisting developing countries in their struggle to tame excessive population growth.... While dramatically reducing our own excessive consumption and ultimate detrimental impact on our own patch.

Education!!! that’s right education - is the real issue here - instead of a family having 10 children wouldn't it make sense to have enough kiddies to sustain the population not constantly increase it to the demise of ourselves, earthlings and our precious little planet.

Sort it out you crazy humans!

(Ed. Comments welcome below, but, if you want to help the writer of this suggestion organise a rally please let us know by writing to site contact link and we will pass your comments on to the author of the letter below.

We as a nation are happy to fully support causes that we believe in.
Cure for Cancer, Violence against Women, Black Saturday to name a few.
Everyone in Australia is going to be affected one way or another if the
Australian Population gets out of control.

As Dick Smith said that 9 in every 10 Australians would agree that this is
"not" what they want for themselves or their children and grandchildren.

If a day and time was chosen for Australians to gather together in each
State to make their voices heard and count for something our concerns
could not go unnoticed. I am talking about a Nation Rally.
It may be too late for this you may think as the election date is quickly
approaching is it too late for this to be done?

For those who are financially gaining through whatever means whether it be
as a builder, a friend of a Minister, Overseas interests, political heavy
weights etc etc these people don't care about what a bigger Australia will
do to Australians as long as their needs are being met.

Well I don't care for them.

All I want is to help start this ball rolling and I believe that a Rally
will show political leaders, Australians and overseas countries that we
will not be ignored, that we have a right to Rally for our beliefs just as
we have a right to vote. Rallying is powerfully visual and because of this
it will get noticed.

It's only too late when we don't fight for our rights. The right to have a
standard of living, confidence and security in resource sustainability, etc

Lets pick a date and go for it we have more to loose if we don't!!

Thank you for your time.
I look forward to hearing from you.

Dear S-,

Firstly thanks for your interest and thoughtful suggestions.

I have been largely inactive for three months because of unavoidable personal complications.

I am all for protests, marches etc. to put our case against unsustainable population growth. Unfortunately, as you have noted, it is close to election time, so there is little chance to make an impact on the election.

Although it is good that for once population growth has been treated as controversial during a national election, the national elections fall a long way short of an exercise in real democracy. The public don't have the option to vote for a platform which clearly and unambiguously supports population stability. Even Gillard and Evans still seem to want to allow Australia's immigration to remain roughly as high as John Howard made it. So, Labor could be re-elected and Australia could still have unsustainable population growth.

What is needed are alternative candidates with clear policies on population as well as a large number of other issues where state governments and the federal government have acted against the public interest and public opinion. Another obvious example is privatisation, which has been consistently opposed by an overwhelming majority of Australians for the last few decades.

Unfortunately, we can't organise rallies or good election candidates at this stage, but if you know of any, we would be more than happy to publicise them.

best regards,

James Sinnamon

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Population - Climate/environment, health, power stations, jobs, money.

Health, renewable energy and education need more attention.

Where jobs cease, new will begin.

We may not be able to control growth, but maybe we can try, contribute to a healthy population.

Editorial Comment: I am not sure whether this comment is pro-'growth' or anti-'growth'. We have to be able to 'control growth' and ultimately achieve population stability or else humankind will destroy its life support system.

To the Editor: The comment states the obvious: the puzzle of population.

Population means: more mouths to feed, more electricity consumption which leads to more coal being used to supply the country, the more coal used the bigger the impact on the climate/environment and human health.

Power stations bring money to the country and supply people with jobs.

The health bill is through the roof, prices are going up leaving the average Joe Blow out of pocket and closing small businesses.

The impact the power stations have on water supplies and agriculture; the taking of fertile land for coal beds, means job loss in that sector and eventually may lead to the closure of fish & chip shop businesses.

As I said ,attention needs to be paid in the health sector, renewable energy needs to be more of a realism and education needs to be reviewed.

I am Minty. I am a cook from Las Vegas. This is my first time browsing this site. People in this site are generous and enthusiastic.