You are here

Australia's Fertility rate is OK. Let’s keep it that way!

Should environmental organisations concerned about overpopulation enjoin Australians to have no more than two children each, for the good of the planet? Or, since our average fertility rate is below 2 children per person, should we instead congratulate Australians and ask them to keep it that way?

Where the average measure matters most

I have reservations about promoting small families in Australia. It is the average within a society that matters rather than individual cases. It could be off -putting for environmentalists who might already have 3 children but who may have a sister with none.

I think asking people to undertake this would be somewhat arbitrary, unnecessary, simplified and rigid. Given our fertility rate is less than 2 why would we make a point that the fertility rate needs this?

We could just as well campaign for large celibate communities which would also have the effect of reducing fertility.

The way our society is now structured with high housing/land prices, people can’t afford large families. I think we should make our vision for the country an attractive one that shows up the nastiness of the regime. Why should we be using this “stick” when governments and big business are using it for us with all the negative effects of ever-rising population – increased regulation, increased cost of land, overcrowding, loss of contact with nature, high power costs, declining wage-gains and workers' conditions etc. etc.)

Why don’t environmentalists concerned with population growth commend the fertility rate as OK? - but let’s keep it that way!

There’s a slogan:

Fertility rate is OK. Let’s keep it that way! That’s positive and affirming - not rigid. It’s a carrot- rather than a stick! We can associate it with the good things about our life in Australia. We can present it to immigrants as a way of preserving and caring for the society they have chosen to adopt.

Growth lobby highjacked ideal society and made life hard for all

In reality our freedoms are being taken from us. That is unattractive I can’t see that asking people to take pledges on their future will make ecological sustainability and keeping natural environments safe attractive. The post 1970s period could have been fabulous for us without the push for more and more productivity, profits and population growth. The problem articulated in the 70s and the early 80s was, "How will we deal with our leisure in the future of the 3 and 4 day week?” It never happened- but it could have. If this brief glimpse of what was possible had played out with maybe lower productivity, lower impact, lower population growth, less work, greater leisure time, less development we would possibly have had an almost ideal society. This is what we need to latch onto, rather than pledges that would surely cause some cognitive dissonance and that people will not really want to make. This is a sacrifice. Who knows what one’s personal future holds? We should emphasize freedom not sacrifice.

Environmentalists need to find more agreement and cooperate in presenting an inspiring vision of what Australia’s our future could look like without the growth lobby dominating.

Our fertility rate is OK. Let's keep it that way!
Our immigration rate is too rapid. Let's cap it.


The sooner this daft government stops paying people to breed the better...$5000 for each newly dropped parasite is absolutely despicable...and I who choose to remain childless have to pay for these breeders to keep reproducing..

Our population growth is driven by immigration. Our fertility level has increased recently, due to immigrant groups having large families. Traditionally, Australians have 2 or 3 kids and a low replacement level. However, the bulk of our population growth is from immigration - a government-tweaked number. Our population growth rate is then treated as the status quo, something natural that we must accommodate, make plans for, and adjust too. It's so sublime that people are unaware, and think that this is the "norm" rather than policy. Our city and suburbs are under pressure to soak up the growth, and take their "fair share" of developments. It's our public duty!
There's nothing "fair" about it, and politicians want a pay rise! Australia has declining living standards, soaring costs of living, and on an economy based on growth that can't be maintained or sustained.
Australian families should not feel guilty about having a family when the source of growth is immigration. Not having children will make no difference to our overall population growth.

At present our society is based on the assumption that resources are infinite. That as time goes by the magical black box of science and technology will always unlock more and more resources, and that this will continue until the end of time. Almost all business leaders believe this absolutely, most politicians and most everyday people as well. Once you realize this, a lot of decisions made regarding population and economic growth make sense.

For example, if resources are finite it stands to reason that population growth will end eventually. Attempting to increase the population to support older people, to pay for past growth or whatever makes no sense because when the population growth ends, all those problems you've been putting off will have to be dealt with.

However if resources are infinite the population growth need never end. Its logical then to increase population forever. The more people, the more resources you can grab.

Our business leader, politicians, almost everyone in power now believe Australia has effectively infinite resources and can support an effectively infinite population. They have the tacit support of most everyday people who tend to assume everything will continue as they have been, and that growth is normal and will never end.

So, CSI, are you of the opinion that there is a kind of prevailing low intellect among the power elite and the media who actually believe their own propaganda?

Or maybe they have adapted to a rationale?

Maybe they have that self-serving moral kind of thinking where they believe that anything that benefits them personally must be good? So, property developers, bankers and growth-lobby friendly ministries of planning etc and those they employ will adapt their thinking to serve the immediate purpose of getting a salary? And simply shelve analysis of the negative impacts on the wider environmental supports they really rely on, and avoid any negative moral feedback from people they walk all over?

I heard the other day that a speaker from the Ministry of Planning recently demanded that the recording of a talk she gave at a forum on population be wiped from the record after the audience showed disapproval of the policies her talk appeared to support. Apparently she refused to answer a question about whether the Department had a policy of 'densification'. Her reply was that the audience member should ask the minister. Then she left the stage.

Does anyone know any more about this incident? I believe it happened at an Informa conference.

I would be interested in some further discussion of the psychology of people who work for, promote or otherwise belong to the growth lobby and the industries that benefit from it, and people who identify it as socially beneficial, whether or not they derive immediate benefit.

I was there at the conference. Yes both the DPCD and Housing Association spokespersons would prefer that residents who object should be silenced. AS I have lived for a period of my life with a Russian family in S t Petersburg and know what that totalitarian state does to the psyche of the people, asked DPCD if that is the society she would like or maybe she would prefer the Chinese type which in the paper that day showed people in bloody revolt against the compulsory take over of their farming land by government for development. WE still are a democracy and have the right to object to bad development.

On the other hand we do not object to good development, but most development is opportunistic and motivated by greed not planning.

Mary Drost

Developers are running our State government! They are assuming that we have this massive population boom and we must all shove-over and accept the inevitable loss of back yards and typical Aussie living standard, for the benefit of all. This is not correct. Our fertility levels are slightly below replacement levels at 1.9. Our population growth is due to government - State and Federal - policies. It is totally in their control. Melbourne is suffering too from a disproportionate number of immigration arrivals. We don't have "skills shortage" but lack of investment in education and training. Population growth always outstrips funding for maintenance and infrastructure, and costs of Council Rates and utilities continue to rise. Our Ponzi-economic growth-based economy is unsustainable - environmentally, socially and economically. We elect government to act on our behalf, not for a few political clients who benefit.

I hypothesize that those who get to the top of the pile in our society are the ones with most of the characteristics of what it takes to survive. In a nutshell- those whose behaviours can be described as go-getting, cunning, planning within a limited time frame, confident, assertive, opportunistic possibly charming, willing to deceive within reasonable or legal bounds if in own interests. I even wonder if in a society such as Australia's which is nominally a sort of "meritocracy" based on democracy inevitably turning into a plutocracy that this may be the only possible outcome.
Those who concern themselves with long time frames- well beyond their own spans and who consider the common good rather then self interest display a greater capacity for contemplating and engineering long term survival than do the other group and they are probably the more intelligent. But if this capability- of looking at distant time frames and wider welfare and survival issues were an advantage for their own medium term survival they would be greater in number and might have more influence. I hypothesize that their intelligence would be adaptive if humans were more solitary creatures. However, we live in groups and are interdependent. Because we don't need to think a long way ahead for immediate or medium term survival then these qualities are not a distinct advantage and could even be a slight disadvantage. I think this interdependency makes it more likely that the dominant go-getting types get to the top than will the long- term thinking, precautionary. analytical types. In other words I believe that humans are led by other humans who fall in the normal range of intelligence and are probably not at all deficient, but are not the absolute cream of our collective brain power either. I think human interdependence generally ensures this pattern and probably prevents further evolution of human intellectual functioning as there is no immediate survival advantage to being extremely intelligent.

Dear Quark,

Here's my take on it.

It could be that you mistaken market for society. Consider that the market has become external and independent of social interests. We now dance to its peculiar laws. The market only rewards financially profitable decisions, ignoring socially profitable ones that do not make money. Power resides in the market and only the rich can influence the market. Alpha apes, which would normally be subjected to organic rules of peers and challengers within limited territories and local populations, are artificially able to rule over as much territory as their money can buy in the global market economy. Since the market economy overarches and virtually ignores human society, they are able to operate in an abstracted social space where they receive very little correction from social pressures, and only respond to financial constraints and the magnified and abstracted mass media messages about their behaviour, which come from an imagined peer group created by hack journos for some of the biggest alpha apes - the mass media moguls. Apes in government have for some time ... um ... aped...the market apes, because they too are motivated by the pursuit of power and are not immune to the reward system of the market. They talk a sort of social talk, but they walk the market walk. They make laws that the market wants.

The market rewards population growth financially and therefore channels behaviour into supporting and coercing population growth, despite all social feedback objecting to it.

The globalisastion of Alpha ape territory can only be combatted by relocalising economies. Alpha Apes will only respond socially to people they can see and who can have an effect on them, withholding what they want, or punishing them for evil deeds, or demanding restitution and reparations for damages done. As long as our economy remains an abstract global market, and the law its servant, a kind of hypertrophied Alpha Ape will continue to cavort and rampage in the pursuit of power and money, convinced that nothing real exists to stop it, totally self-involved, unaware of environment and limits.

I think this is the nature of Alpha Apes; they don't have many mental or emotional brakes. They are gung-ho, status-prioritising, seat of the pants operators. If they were operating in the real world in real localities, they would have to depend on their communities like ordinary humans, and the sociopathic ones would quickly be challenged and killed or chased out of the community.

Just to reiterate, the apes at the top of Australian society at the moment get a lot of money from population growth and don't have to wear any of the nasty consequences or are rewarded enough by status and power (drunk with power) to ignore those they can see. They have a really cooperative mass-media which employs journalistic hacks to write copy justifying the actions of the mad alpha apes. Lots of intelligent apes who would be Alpha Apes in normal societies without global market economies overruling them, try to challenge this silly growth-lobby stuff but alpha apes only take notice of market-based alpha apes and what ordinary people (called patronising names like 'mums and dads' by the mad alphas) think or feel just does not count.

We occasionally find that the mad market alpha apes do surveys and appear concerned about our objections, but that's only because we are getting in the way a little bit and the mad apes, who are all incredibly vain, then try to 'educate' us round to their opinions, often using the term, "we" like the royal plural. They like to imagine that everyone is really like them, minus a few thousand dollars. "We" are all millionaires - or wannabes. Do you remember when John Howard was talking about a $90,000 plus 4WD once, as if it were the kind of vehicle most people could afford? Well, that is a symptom. So is the way that media people talk about how great it is that house prices are rising. They are playing "let's pretend" and excluding all the people who don't invest in houses, but just use them for shelter. They are excluding the people who leave their children in care and go into debt to buy cars so they can go to work very long and boring hours in jobs with salaries that don't even cover the principal on their debts.

The mad market alpha apes can insulate themselves in big houses and hide behind tinted windows in limosines and they can survive in the short term, better than the apes they trample, but the society cannot survive them and when the society breaks up into little pieces as oil declines, there won't be any global market. Also, of course, the mad apes take each other down every chance they can. Just look at the weapons market. They are blowing each other up just for profit. The only thing that stops a nuclear holocaust is because that would stop profits from smaller arms, which are a mainstay for the mad apes. Blow up the world, you stop the arms-trade. Overpopulate the world and the arms-trade picks up. The mad apes reign over a society of which the laws are divorced from reality, but reality is still out there and the mad apes are psychotic. Hence they chase money and ignore overpopulation.

I prefer to call myself "childfree" rather than childless. I made the decision as a very young person to remain childfree and have never regretted it - am not all that far off 70 years of age.

Someone suggested celibate communities. Why? We have excellent birth control methods.

How about the government paying me my non-baby bonus for the ten kids I chose not to have?

"... assertion was in any case a grotesque understatement — we have opened our doors to more than five million people in the last ten years, only a minority of them Poles, and they have soaked up the poorest paid jobs in the economy and, when not doing so, have been an enormous burden on our taxes, through benefits and meeting their requirements for housing, health and education. Five million! The original Treasury estimate of how many workers might come into the country was put at 13,000, by the way. And these new arrivals have driven down the wages for the very people Ed’s party was set up to protect. None of this is their fault, the immigrants, and nobody should blame them — any more than those of us who cautioned against this policy would have blamed them at the time. We knew where the blame lay: it is Ed’s fault.

Furthermore, having wrongly identified a need for low-skilled labour from abroad, the party then sought to justify its decision by emphasising the immense social benefits vast numbers of immigrants would bring. There would be — according to a government report from 2000 published under the Freedom of Information Act — ‘a widening of consumer choice and significant cultural contributions’. And so there would, for a small number of metropolitan liberal middle-class monkeys from within whose ranks — pace Harriet — the party seems destined for ever to select its leader. As the former Labour speechwriter, Andrew Neather, put it, the policy was intended to ‘rub the right’s noses in it’ and chastise them with the massed ovine bleat of ‘raaaaaaaaacccccist’ should they possibly object. And that government paper went on to state that the long-held consensus that immigration should be limited to manageable numbers (i.e. probably not 500,000 people every year) was ‘an objective with no economic or social justification’.

I hope whoever wrote that dross is out of work right now. The same paper deliberately censored ‘emerging evidence’ of immigrants being involved in criminal gangs, fighting and mugging and begging. And as we know from the diaries of the former Labour MP for Sunderland, Chris Mullin, Labour politicians were too terrified to talk about the problems associated with immigration in case they too were met with that massed ovine bleat. "


Don’t blame immigrants for immigration – blame Ed Miliband
The Spectator, October 1, p. 11
Don’t blame immigrants for immigration – blame Ed Miliband
The Spectator, October 1, p. 11

Why do the Anglo-countries think that they can continue to absorb perpetual population growth? The USA, Canada and Australia are not the economic power-houses they assume they are, or have been.

The costs of growth are enormous and end up strangling progress and cause bottlenecks due to the infrastructure required.

Multiculturalism is positive to a certain extent, to encourage toleration and international understandings, but there are limits. It's actually an oxymoron. "Diversity" is assumed to be a community/national "glue" but it also encourages differences and division. Racism is used to quell objections to mass immigration and lack of transparency in government decisions.

Why do the Anglo-countries think that they can continue to absorb perpetual population growth?

Because rapid population growth is all Australia, Canada and USA have ever known since they were colonized. Its part of their culture, a fundamental part of their self-identity. They were founded as frontier societies. Many (most?) of their citizens simply cannot take seriously the idea that their population could ever stop growing. It is unthinkable. Look at the Australian national anthem:

"Australians all let us rejoice for we are young and free,
we've boundless soil....."

I strongly suspect before the end of this century, when the Australian population is somewhere between 50 and 90 million, the growth is going to stop, and the population decline. If we are very lucky it will be like what is happening in Japan now. Very few will be prepared. The transition from growth to decline, and then at same point stability, will be deeply traumatic.