Limit baby bribes to a family’s first two kids
At a time when annual births (around 300,000) are double deaths (around 150,000) in Australia, Labor’s reduction in the baby bonus from $5,000 to $3,000 for second and subsequent children is welcome news. This fiscally responsible measure alone will save the nation up to $500 million every three years. But the government should go further.
We live in a finite world and can’t grow forever. The sooner we adjust to a stable population, the easier it will be to manage growing scarcity of finite, non-renewable resources. Quality of life and intergenerational equity through the sustainable use of energy, food and water resources is our priority.
The Stable Population Party supports young families and freedom of choice on family size, but not governments providing financial incentives to have large families. We advocate a broader strategy to encourage ‘replacement-size’ families: Limit both the baby bonus and paid parental leave to each woman’s first two children.
This policy would send out a much needed message that replacement-size families are in the best interests of society as a whole in Australia, where continuing population growth is contributing to increasing housing shortages and planning pressures, traffic and transport congestion, energy and water security issues and unwanted carbon emissions. Importantly, a stable population will ease cost of living pressures on young families, including housing, water prices, energy prices and road tolls that are all driven up by population growth.
Limiting these payments to each woman’s first two children would also mean that the majority of people with two or fewer children would not be subsidising those who choose to have larger families. Further, it would conservatively save over $1 billion in direct costs to taxpayers every year - not to mention hundreds of thousands of dollars in infrastructure for each new person.
Infrastructure Partnerships Australia reports that we already have a related budget-crippling national infrastructure backlog of $770 billion.
Our community party is campaigning to stabilise Australia’s population as soon as practicably possible, as well as providing leadership and support to other nations to help stabilise global population via a ‘domino effect’. If nations like Ireland, Greece, India and New Zealand can’t continue to use Australia as an economic and population safety valve, they will have extra incentive to more responsibly manage their own resources and population levels.
Through partnership, example and assistance, Australia should help other nations to live well and plan their own future within their sustainable resource base. While welcoming our fair share of genuine refugees, we should also acknowledge that overpopulation drives the resource scarcity behind most current conflicts and forced migration.
By stabilising their populations through voluntary family planning and empowerment of women, nations protect their food, water and energy security, improve infant and maternal health, maximise resilience to climate change, avoid labour exploitation, and free up investment to build prosperity and develop. All people should be able to live in peace and harmony in their homeland, and this sustainable choice should be our main objective – not an ever increasing intake of refugees.
To this end we advocate tying foreign aid wherever possible to the improvement of economic and environmental sustainability, with a particular focus on female rights and education, and on opportunities for women and couples to access reproductive health and voluntary family planning services to help prevent unwanted pregnancies. Over 220 million women who would like to avoid or delay pregnancy lack access to effective family planning. Our global aim is to help stabilise population at the United Nations’ ‘low variant’ peak estimate of around 8 billion by mid century.
In summary, to be taken seriously on population and sustainability issues, Australia and other high per capita consumption nations need to lead by example, not bribe our own citizens to have large families.
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