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NSW Labor leader almost sees the population problem, in his piece in Murdoch's Telegraph.

John Robertson, the NSW Opposition Leader, gets as far as saying that "The central policy challenge for NSW is maintaining our quality of life in the face of a rapidly rising population" and compaining that "the Government plans to cram in another 43,000 people [in Sutherland Shire] . Yet it has no concern for how this will affect quality of life in one of the most precious and unique areas of Sydney." Also, see inside how to book for Fenner Environment Conference before Monday.

This puts Mr Roberton way ahead of two of Labor's federal leaders, Bill Shorten and Paul Howes, who are still singing the praises of population growth.

Of course John Robertson did not suggest that he would do anything concrete to stop this rapid population growth. If he had done so, Murdoch's editors would almost certainly have refused to run his piece.

He implies that we may have to be fatalistic about population growth, but will need to spend more on catering for it: He correctly remarks that "Expanding our city at the current rate - while slashing services and failing to deliver infrastructure - is a recipe for disaster." But he fails to note that governments can't simply spend ever more on infrastructure because the rising rate of population growth is driving them towards bankruptcy. Every extra person in Australia, needs at least $200,000 worth of additional infrastructure, though some studies suggest the figure is far higher. The impossibility of coping with such rapid population growth without letting services and infrastructure deteriorate is well explained on Kelvin Thomson's Wikipedia page (last paragraphs).

That's a lovely pair of pincers to have your political opponents trapped between. But there's no reason to assume Robertson could do any better if he came to power. There is no piece of magic technology called "good government" that gets you out of that trap, unless you can reduce the rate of population growth. But at least Robertson seems able to see both sides of the trap he (and his opponents) are in.

You can find the text of his article here:

And below that is a reminder about the Fenner Conference on Population (10-11 October in Canberra) for which bookings close on Monday.


10, 11 October 2013

Shine Dome, Acton, Canberra

Book online at

Further information at

Keynote address by Professor Paul Ehrlich

Other speakers include:

Suzanne Cory, Hugh Possingham, David Lindenmayer, Chris Dickman, Bob Birrell, Mark O’Connor, Jane O’Sullivan, Michael Lardelli, Simon Michaux, Sharyn Munro, Rhondda Dickson, Michael Jeffrey, Gary Jones, Ian Lowe, Michael Raupach, Ian Dunlop, Tony McMichael, Paul Collins, Haydn Washington, Kelvin Thomson, Julian Cribb, and Roger Short. Richard Denniss is after-dinner speaker.

Registration: $220 ($170 concession) Dinner $70

Organised by Sustainable Population Australia Inc.


If there were never little glimmers of enlightenment such as Mr. Robertson's apparent awareness of the wreckage of endless population growth, most of the non politician populace would have no reason to have any hope at all of maintaining a reasonable quality of life and for a stable or sustainable human population in Australia.