Michael Lardelli, on Governance Committee of SPGN
Michael Lardelli, who is a senior lecturer in Genetics at the University of Adelaide, helped form the new Australian party, Stop Population Growth Now, and is on its governance committee.
Lardelli explains his motives for supporting this new party this way:
"My background is in activism over resource limitations, particularly oil. I have been interested in that since 2004. However, anyone who studies resource limits and becomes interested in broader sustainability issues eventually realises that the core issue in all these areas is population size. Increasing population size eradicates any savings made by individuals who may be trying to reduce their environmental impact, e.g. CO2 emissions."
Food security for Australia in doubt
"The thing that particularly worries me is food, since there is a lower limit on how much food one person needs and so a person can only reduce their food consumption so far.
The green revolution was, and is, only possible through the use of large inputs of oil so a declining trend in oil production - which began in 2008 - threatens our food security.
I recently looked at Australia's food production statistics and it is clear that if we double our population size we will not be able to feed ourselves in a drought year."
Australia already a net importer of vital foodstuffs
"We are already net importers of fruit and veg! Put that together with the declines in food production that will be forced upon us by declining oil production, phosphate production and even climate change and any increase in Australia's population begins to look like national suicide."
A father's duty to his children
"I have two young children and my duty as a parent is to maximize their chances of survival - that is why I was happy to help form SPGN (Stop Population Growth Now) when I was asked".
What is the Stop Population Growth Party on about?
Stop Population Growth Now, describes itself as "a body of Australians seeking to reduce Australia’s population growth to zero as a matter of urgency."
They say, "Government policy is adding almost another million to Australia’s population every three years. This is damaging the quality of life of all Australians and greatly reducing the prospects for our children.
This highest ever growth rate is a direct result of government policy.
Recent polls show that a majority of Australians do not support this government caused, rapid population growth. Most Australians believe that our population growth should be stopped while we work out how Australia can cope with changing climate, diminishing supplies of water and most non-renewable resources, city congestion, loss of arable land to city expansion and loss of Australia’s unique flora and fauna."
Their next statement, that Australians have no-one to vote for in the Federal Election later this year, needs updating, because the Stable Population Party of Australia is now well-established.
But, as SPGN says on its website, "Labor and the Coalition favour rapid population growth. The Greens are ambivalent on the issue."
Stop Population Growth Now, like the Stable Population Party of Australia, has announced its intention to run Senate candidates in every state, with this "single objective – to bring population growth down as rapidly as possible, by giving you the voter the right to vote on this most important issue."
Is two too many Population Parties for Australia?
Is it a good thing to have more than one party specifically canvassing votes against more population growth in Australia? Won't this dilute peoples' efforts?
I don't think so. I think it will raise the profile of the issue at the polling booths. If both parties are successful in getting candidates appointed, the variety should contribute to more sophisticated evolution of the related policies after the election.
It will also give a 'heads-up' to the Greens and other parties on this issue which affects every other policy in Australia.
Indeed, we could have more small population-focused-parties. Each could approach the population and environment field from a different angle, which may be what they intend to do. Business in New South Wales, for instance, and Oil Depletion in South Australia. Really, there are so many angles which can be commented on.
Other Australian political parties with small population policies
Note, however that the New Australia Party also exists - and is the only one in favour of a small population attempting to raise its profile at the moment in Victoria. Unlike both single-issue population parties, it provides the public with the ability to interact on-line to form and modify its policies. It deserves more support than it is getting.
We should also not forget that the Australia First Party has a small population policy as well, and, despite its embattled history, an appeal to the some of the most disenfranchised working class and rural sector, with quite effective dissemination via long-distance truckdrivers. I will shortly be writing about this party's policies related to population.
And the Animal Justice Party is no single issue party either. Its policies run deep and will soon be on-line, including the population policy. The Animal Justice Party's performance might just surprise the public, which has been accustomed by the mainstream press to the idea that 'most people' don't care much about how we treat farm animals and wildlife. In fact, from feedback I have received, it appears that nothing could be further than the truth.
The alert reader may see, as I do, the potential for a number of large groups in Australia which have been sidelined up until now although they actually carry the costs of population growth without the profits, to express themselves through these new parties.
It will be very interesting to see if all these new parties manage to get their quota of 500 people and, with these people and alternative media help, are able to keep their issues in the minds of the greater public and seriously contest the elections. A few years ago, with the stranglehold that the growth lobby has on our media and government, and hence the national and state elections, the potential for any alternative party not secretly backed by business or the other big parties, to get up, would have been much less.
An Environmental Sociologist's opinion
A great deal of political analysis and newsy comment could still be made on what drives these parties, what might split them, and about the people in them, but let's keep things simple for the moment.
My personal investment is to help them all to succeed because I agree with Michael Lardelli that Australia cannot continue to support its current population as fossil fuels decline, let alone grow its population. It is therefore imperative to aim to stop population growth as soon as possible, but also to reduce our intake of fuels and vital resources. In my opinion this can only be done by involving the greater public in the industrial issue of drastically reducing work and output, whilst sharing available paid work. If population growth slows, prices for land and every other thing will drop, making it eminently possible for any Australian to survive - perhaps better than they do now - on smaller incomes and less paid work. For more on this see Sheila Newman, (Ed.) The Final Energy Crisis, 2nd Edition, Pluto Press, UK, 2008 in the articles, "101 Views of Hubbert's Peak" and "France and Australia After Oil".