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Public Health Association call for environmentally sustainable population policies

This important statement from the Public Health Association of Australia came out in November last year but has been overlooked. It should be emphasised that the Public Health Association does not make press releases like this lightly. The entire document can be downloaded here.

Time for leadership on Australia’s population growth

The Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA) is calling on Federal and State Governments to develop sustainable population policies to curb the associated population health and environmental risks.

“Australia’s population is projected to grow from the current 22 million to 35 million people by 2049 unless urgent action is taken now. Given the dramatic impacts that population growth has on health and environmental sustainability, it is hard to believe that Australia still has no population policy -- it is well past time to develop one,” according to Michael Moore the CEO of the PHAA.

More population will dramatically impact on food security, housing, mental health ...

PHAA spokesperson Dr Peter Howat of the PHAA said: “The projected 60% increase in the population in just 40 years will have a dramatic impact across many areas of service provision including hospitals and other health care services. The impact will extend to food security, nutrition, affordable housing, transport, education, stress and depression with the changing demography of Australia’s population”.

More population will negate any reduction of Australia's carbon footprint

Importantly, this rate of population growth would also effectively negate any achievements in reducing Australia’s carbon footprint. Yesterday the United Nations released its State of the World Population 2009 identifying population growth projections between 8 billion and 10.5 billion people by 2050. The report also identified ‘the key point is that women and men themselves, not Governments or any other institutions, make decisions on childbearing that contribute to an environmentally sustainable human population’.

PHAA spokesperson Dr Liz Hanna added:

“Population growth of this scale will magnify environmental impacts including climate change, drought, and soil degradation and will dilute all the health benefits of migration, including access to education, health care and employment. On the other hand, stabilising population growth would have many benefits for both health and environment.”

Policy to curb overpopulation risks now critical

Dr Howat noted that: “It is now critical that all our Federal and State Governments develop sustainable population policies to curb the risks associated with the social, economic and environmental instability that result from rapid and unsustainable population growth. Population policies must be developed to assure the equitable provision of services and infrastructure. With careful planning, there is a greater likelihood that the already vulnerable members of our communities -- including Indigenous people, recent migrants, non-English speaking people, single parents, unemployed, homeless and other low income people will not be further disadvantaged.”

Emphasis placed on need for OBJECTIVE inquiry

Mr Moore emphasised “The PHAA is calling for leadership from the Australian Government to commission an objective inquiry into Australia’s population policy options in order to develop a sensible population policy”.

For further information:

see PHAA Sustainable Population Policy


For further comment:
Michael Moore CEO PHAA
Dr Peter Howat, PHAA Spokesperson (Perth)
Dr Liz Hanna, Environmental Health Special Interest Group Spokesperson (ACT)


Our population growth rate is about 2.1%. This means that we are on route to DOUBLE our present numbers to over 44 million by 2045 and keep growing. We will have OVER 50 million by 2050. To keep the numbers "down" to the forecasted 36 million will require manipulation of the present manufactured rate of growth.
Most of our population growth (over 60%) is from immigration - and not "natural". However, when considering the numbers of people invited to live here, at least the same proportion of "natural" births must come from immigrated parents!

If our population can be kept "down" to 36 million by 2050, then why not start now? What about after 2050? The greed of our present generation is totally forgetting and ignoring the next generation who will find Australia with few wildlife, few or no old-growth forests, no intact ecosystems, the "bush" gone, and with an overlay of climate change, our landscape will be compromised forever!

Additionally, our culture will be fragmented totally and homogenised and "diversified", and only the privileged will have a home with land to call their own. The only animals will be livestock - also homogenised in monocultures!
A few centuries of unprecedented explosion in human numbers and surging inequitable consumption are needlessly destroying our planet and resources- and eradicating indigenous species.

Few people understand exponential growth. How will the tsunami of population growth be stemmed after 2050?