Response to new Centre for Population report: Australia must stabilise its population below 30 million to stop the growing impacts on climate and biodiversity, as well as preserve quality of life, according to the environment organisation Sustainable Population Australia (SPA). SPA president, Ms Jenny Goldie, was commenting on the latest report from the ‘Centre for Population’, the Treasury office which advises the federal government on population. Their report is due to be released Friday 6 January.
“The slowing of Australia’s population growth due to the pandemic should have been wholeheartedly welcomed,” Ms Goldie says.
“It is madness for the government and its business backers to restart extreme population growth by going flat-out with even higher levels of Net Overseas Migration (NOM). It’s even higher than we saw before the pandemic when it averaged 226,000.”
Ms Goldie says that, like the October Budget, the new report demands annual NOM of 235,000. The report expects Australia to grow from its current 26 million to 30 million people by 2032-33.
“The Treasurer, and his media acolytes, like to portray the 235,000 as ‘normal trend’ and ‘nothing to see here’. It is three times Australia’s historic average. In fact, Canada is the only rich nation in the world with a more aggressive immigration program.
“Even with the new federal Labor government policies for emissions reduction, an extra four million people will still add tens of millions of tonnes of extra emissions each year – possibly as much as 80 million tonnes.
“That is not trivial when we are facing a climate crisis. Most of that 80 million tonnes will be new emissions, not a redistribution of emissions around the planet. That is because the average migrant who comes to Australia is coming from a country with one-quarter as much per capita emissions as Australia,” Ms Goldie says.
“Add to that the impact of population growth on habitat and species loss. The State of the Environment 2021 report released in July 2022 was quite explicit about population growth having ‘high impact’ on biodiversity. For instance, the last remaining habitat of koalas in the Sydney Basin is currently threatened by housing development. Nationally, the Environment Minister is confronted by 140 development applications which, if approved, can only worsen the koala crisis.
“We have already returned to the pre-Covid levels of population growth, of which most Australians believed they had seen the end. The pre-election silence of both major parties on the topic of immigration made clear that each understood more population growth was not what most Australians wanted.
“The people are now entitled to ask why they have been ignored,” says Ms Goldie.
“Why are the impacts of population growth on the two gravest crises we face – climate and biodiversity – being ignored? The Treasurer’s radical population program can only be a negative for real wages and housing affordability. It will erase the Covid low-unemployment windfall.”