Many doctors are concerned that an overcrowded world will be unhealthy, unhappy and hungry; we must not allow Australia to make this mistake.

In Australia our concerns over the effects of a growing population are just part of our concerns for the health of all our patients. For these reasons Doctors for the Environment Australia has a population policy which explains the links between population and health

It is fairly obvious that the present rate of population growth in Australia has imposed considerable strain on existing health services in terms of trained personnel, finance and administration. Any increase in population must be constrained by the rate at which services can be maintained.+

The projected increase in size of some Australian cities - Melbourne, for example - can be seen as imprudent, as it is likely to impose adverse health impacts on their populations. Unsustainable population growth also brings secondary economic consequences with health impacts from pollution, overcrowding, loss of green space and lack of recreational facilities.

Many contemporary concepts of planning for urban living are likely to be unsustainable and unhealthy under peak oil and rapidly increasing energy costs. The Mount Barker development in South Australia may eventually fall into this category.

Western civilisation uses scientific discovery as a cornerstone of its functioning and we accept and use the discoveries of aeronautics, prosthetic joints and communication systems in everyday life.

In making policy the scientific facts must form the basis of decisions. The 20-year debate over the management of the Murray Darling River still fails to recognise there is little point in fighting over the cake when its size is in doubt. The bottom line is the scientific assessment of the projected flow in the river being sufficient to maintain its health and clear its salt.

The population debate has unfortunate similarities. The bottom line is that Australia’s optimal population should be based upon facts - medical, scientific and demographic - and not on the opinions of community sectors with conflicts of interest. Human health is dependent on a healthy environment with adequate water, food and ecological services. There are limits to Australia’s population because of water shortage, climate change and loss of ecological services.

Conflict of interest on population growth is obvious to all. The resource industries press for skilled immigrants to service booms and the government supports this growth because of revenue. Population growth is the fodder of the development and real estate industries; governments think that population growth will make their tasks easier by providing the necessary tax base to support an ageing population.

Then how do we decide upon Australia optimal population? Biological science tells us that the population of any species will grow till all available resources are consumed.  We must recognise that human history tells us that we are no exception.

The health of the world’s population is related to its rate of increase and the presence of sustainable ecological resources. Current use of natural resources, however, means that humanity is now not only living off its interest, but on capital as well, the result of which will mean that adverse health impacts will continue to increase in scale and severity.

Australia is not immune to these constraints. The Prime Minister’s Science, Engineering and Innovation Council says Australia could become a net importer of food if the country’s population continues to grow and climate change cuts agricultural production. 

The recent events in Queensland illustrate the vulnerability of food production to the expected increase in adverse climate events. Even so, we continue to gobble up productive land in urban sprawl, for open cast mining and for hundreds of coal seam gas wells.

This raises the issue of what exactly a sustainable population is. The government’s Sustainable Population Strategy issues paper was produced in late 2010. It was intended to “draw out community views about the challenges and opportunities created by changes in Australia’s population”.

Three advisory panels prepared reports on examining: Demographic change and liveability, Productivity and Prosperity, and Sustainable development with an intent to “untangle the array of impacts and influences”.

The fundamental flaw in this approach is to believe that decisions can be based on a negotiation on the competing aims of prosperity, development and the environment. As with the River Murray Darling bottom line of available water, the first consideration for population is the carrying capacity of the environment. Once this is assessed as best it can be by current science and modelling, then the economists, developers and governments can decide on their priorities.

The government’s approach ignores an appropriate definition of sustainability - a population is sustainable only when the environment, that is nature’s life support systems, are maintained to meet its needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

Doctors for the Environment Australia’s population policy recommends that a national task force be formed to prepare a scientific report on an environmentally sustainable population for Australia. The Government’s Sustainable Population Policy does not fulfil this need.

This task force should take into account the increasing urgency of Australia’s international obligation to reduce its carbon footprint.

The deliberations of the task force should be both nationally and regionally based. For example, some evidence suggests that the population of southern Australia may have already reached its sustainable limit. Beyond these limits, it is likely we will see increased adverse health impacts associated with water insecurity and long term desertification. By contrast, population limits in northern Australia may be influenced by national security and the advent of environmental refugees.

In his opening remarks in the Issues paper, Mr Burke calls for community input and asks a number of questions - for example, what do you think are the key indicators of an environmentally sustainable community? And what lessons have we learnt that will help us to better manage the impacts of population change on the environment?

This smacks of political focus group policy formation.

These are questions for a scientific task force.

Most commented


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    • Reality Check says:

      06:27am | 24/02/11

      I wish all the new-Malthusians and eco-doomsayers who are coming out of the woodwork to tell what a miserable lot we humans are would also tell us what they plan to do with us…

      ... Us, the ones who are surplus to requirements in the new sustainable Australia

      Please. Tell me. I don’t mind Kool Aid but some other the “solutions” to the overpopulation “problem” adopted from time to time in other parts of the world haven’t been all that nice.. Usually we go to war to stop them.

    • Kate says:

      01:24pm | 24/02/11

      Well you seem like a troll, so maybe starting with a program that eliminates you would be a good thing?
      More seriously - studies estimate 200 million women on this planet currently would like to use contraception, but have no access to it. They want to work or study or limit their family size, but their families won’t let them, they have no money or they haven’t been educated on how to use or access contraception. This is supposed to increase by 40% in the next 15 years, so 280 million women. How many unwanted pregnancies and births do you think this results in per year?
      Providing these women with birth control methods would be doing something positive and proactive for population growth and it wouldn’t involve forcing anyone to do anything, or compulsory sterilisation or mass genocide or anything else insane you want to come up with.
      Now of course because Catholics are so opposed to contraception I won’t hold my breath for an international (or national) government response to this need through foreign aid. They’d rather just waste money on ensuring the additional babies don’t starve to death too quickly.  But there it is. A simple, easy way to start doing something about the global population problem.
      More locally - how about a tax increase rather than benefits for every child over number 2? Or even 3? Given that the replacement level is 2.2 and not many modern families even want 3. Or not even an increase, just, you only get the baby bonus or maternity leave twice and FTB’s are capped at the second, so there is no additional monetary benefit to having a third? If you want to, go ahead, but you’ll pay for it yourself.

    • acotrel says:

      04:37pm | 24/02/11

      , what do you think are the key indicators of an environmentally sustainable community?

      When the level of education is such that members of the community have the tools to recognise what is needed, and the political clout to pursue it.  The way to combat the population explosion is to stamp out ignorance.  The catholic church seems intent on propagating it, and thus finding themselves more devout followers! I don’t know thw muslim approach to reproduction, but the catholics should know better!

    • acotrel says:

      04:54pm | 24/02/11

      ‘Many doctors are concerned that an overcrowded world will be unhealthy, unhappy and hungry; we must not allow Australia to make this mistake. ‘

      Thiis might be a bit of a presumption?  Some of the happiest people in the world are unhealthy and hungry, and live in crowded places.

    • Ben says:

      05:04pm | 24/02/11

      You are aware Malthus was right, what he couldn’t foresee was improvements in productivity thanks to oil. Of course, oil doesn’t last forever so you better hope something else comes along before it runs out.

      Regardless, what kind of a world do you want to live in? Let’s suppose we had the ability to support a limitless population. That would make things a bit uncomfortable don’t you think? Sure, we could make extra space, cover the world with 1000 story habitation cubicles. But why? It doesn’t sound like a particularly nice place to live.

      It’s very easy to achieve stable population. Wealthy and educated societies trend towards stable populations. Australia’s population would have stabilized decades ago if not for migration. Wars have never really been that good at preventing population growth, probably the opposite actually.

    • Goldenfaber says:

      06:33am | 24/02/11

      Malthusian nonsense. Most of Australia is not even populated. We could grow enough vegies for all just in the Ord river area the biggest fresh water lake in the southern hemisphere etc.
      The only reason i am not for high immigration any longer is that i do not want the next generation to live in multi story accommodation listening to toilets flushing above - that is the inevitable if most immigrants move to already large cities.

    • acotrel says:

      07:14am | 24/02/11

      ‘Conflict of interest on population growth is obvious to all. ‘

      There IS such a thing as ‘economies of scale’?

      In the late forties we had a government that recogniesed we had a very big ‘pull factor’ in Australia.  It was the vast unoccupied areas of rural Australia.  We then had an urgent immigration programme which brought the Southern Europeans here.  I worked on Station PIer in those days, and I remember seeing thousands of tired people arriving.  I also remember their infectious optimism.  They moved into our cities and rebuilt our nasty slum areas.  They also built the Snowey Hydro Scheme. These days we have a debate about ‘multiculturalism’ and population growth which is irrelevant to our needs as a nation.  We have thousands of country towns which could easily be trebled in size with advantage to us all!  Let’s get back to having a positive approach to decentralisation?

    • Wynston Cruso says:

      11:37am | 24/02/11

      “Most of Australia is not even populated”.

      True, but most of the liveable parts are reaching the stage of being over populated. If you had paid attention in year 10 Geography, you would know that only a small percentage of Australia’s land is arable, and with an increase in unsustainable low density urban sprawl we’re quickly losing that which is arable. It’s not rocket surgery.

    • acotrel says:

      04:29pm | 24/02/11

      ’ If you had paid attention in year 10 Geography, you would know that only a small percentage of Australia’s land is arable, and with an increase in unsustainable low density urban sprawl we’re quickly losing that which is arable. It’s not rocket surgery. ’
      Most of the land up our way has cattle roaming on it, ‘arable’ doesn’t happen!  If you drive between Melbourne and Benalla there is 200K of land inhabited by a few cattle, and kangaroos.  Same if you drive between Benalla and Goulburn.  You need to get out and about more often!

    • David Turnbull says:

      07:14am | 24/02/11

      Goldenfaber, that is inevitable even with 0 immigration. Population growth is by definition exponential, it’s only a matter of time.

      Shearman’s point is well reasoned; a lot more actually scientific than previous attempts which do NOT take into account the rate of change. If we can assess this rate, we can plan accordingly.

      It will, however, still be exponential. Try to keep the immigration question out of the debate, there are way too many straight-up xenophobes using their concern for the environment as disguise.

    • DG says:

      08:37am | 24/02/11

      Population growth is by definition exponential - while this is true it’s horribly misleading.

      While the aging population means that we will still have a large population, the birth rate of 1.78 (2010 ABS estimate), means that the growth would slow and as the ‘average’ age increases we would reach a point of very sudden decline.

      Of course, as I have suggested above, this would make sense as populations reach ‘capacity’ then stagnate or decline as they stretch resources. Immigration is necessary to maintain population growth.

      Further, Given that the median age of Australians is about 38 and the average age of migrants is 34, immigration reduces the effect of the aging population.

      Population growth alone does not demonstrate the fact that our population is aging, without migrants the median age would increase far more rapidly.

    • acotrel says:

      07:18am | 24/02/11

      I was always of the opinion that our doctors are well educated.  I’m amazed to see one write such a small minded, inward looking article.

      ‘The only reason i am not for high immigration any longer is that i do not want the next generation to live in multi story accommodation listening to toilets flushing above - that is the inevitable if most immigrants move to already large cities. ‘

      At least the Whitlam government had a positive approach to decentralisation?

    • acotrel says:

      07:49am | 24/02/11

      ‘Try to keep the immigration question out of the debate, there are way too many straight-up xenophobes using their concern for the environment as disguise. ‘

      David, our immigration programme should remain part of the debate regardless of the xenophobes amongst us.  Surely we should plan the development of Australia taking into regard, all factors?  The simple truth is that many people who live in cities, never get to know what goes on in the bush!  That we have businesses collapse because of the tyranny of distance, and lack of a local customer base.  Most Australian country towns could treble in population, and we’d all be better off!

    • acotrel says:

      07:55am | 24/02/11

      One of the big factors which keeps people in our capital cities, is uncertainty of employment, another is poor educational facilities in the bush.  When companies such as Telstra move their call centres offshore, and manufacturers are also permitted to do the same, we exacerbate our problem of population concentration in large cities.

    • acotrel says:

      08:00am | 24/02/11

      ‘Many doctors are concerned that an overcrowded world will be unhealthy, unhappy and hungry; we must not allow Australia to make this mistake.

      In Australia our concerns over the effects of a growing population are just part of our concerns for the health of all our patients. For these reasons Doctors for the Environment Australia has a population policy which explains the links between population and health’

      Many doctors are educated at public expense yet will not accept positions in practices in country towns.  Are they really so concerned about our health?

    • CJ Morgan says:

      08:15am | 24/02/11

      When will some people wake up to the fact the “vast unoccupied areas of rural Australia” remain so because they are incapable of sustaining a larger population.  Most of Australia’s population (and nearly all recent immigrants) live in vile metropolitan areas on the coast, which are steadily expanding and swallowing any remaining areas of bushland and high quality food-growing areas.

      It’s good to see the formation of an advocacy group like Doctors for the Environment Australia.  Perhaps other influential professions could follow the medicos’ lead?

    • John says:

      08:15am | 24/02/11

      The problem is the people that are setting population targets ALL HAVE massive VESTED interests. Normally money and/or power.

      They are typically not educated in ecology and have no idea where all this is most certainly taking us. As a scientist (and father) I find it absolutely ridiculous WE are so apathetic to the catastrophe that is undoubtedly unfolding. Australia is already grossly overpopulated and yet we “reduce” our immigration to a “sustainable” 200k. Some suggest we need to do our bit to relieve problems overseas. This is the height of twisted logic that I have ever heard.

      The solutions are sure not recycling plastic bags, saving whales and clean up Aust day…If we do not control population none of that stuff matters. The global solution is for western countries to close shop and aid other countries to feed and house a sustainable population.

    • DG says:

      08:21am | 24/02/11

      First and foremost: Science tells us how and why, it does not tell us what we should do.

      Perpetual Growth and sustainability are mutually exclusive. Sustainability is a plateau in the growth cycle - that is maintained until technology teaches new ways of utilising the existing resources more economically (consider, for example, the various ‘generations’ of nuclear reactors - using less radioactive material to achieve a greater output).

      Eventually there will be a point where further economy in production is not possible and growth will be no longer possible (without a proceeding decline).

      I digress,

      “Biological science tells us that the population of any species will grow till all available resources are consumed”

      That’s not quite true. In predator-prey modelling there are increases and declines in population but not to the point of exhausting supply. I do not deny that this model includes plenty of death by starvation and so forth, but it is not the same as exhausting resources. There is a turning point at which the decreased demand (due to population decrease) allows resources to thrive.

      Interestingly, in predator/prey modelling it is the physically weak (both predators and predators) that die off, in humans it is the poor. Unfortunately, unlike other living beings that are intelligent enough to stop procreating during times of famine, we continue to populate and for some inexplicable reason we reward this behaviour by sending resources from one area to another.

      What would be a more gentle peak and trough system is made far worse by our decision to prop up the peak as long as is possible, delaying (and magnifying) the eventual trough.

      More importantly, science only tells us what we can do, not what we should do. We, as humans, must make a decisions based on ideology and then use science to achieve this goal.

      Your stated goal is retaining the current health standards (assuming consistent funding) and as such resisting upward pressure on population. However, there are other methods of achieving your goals (for example finding way of encouraging more people to join the medical fraternity (if supply increases at a rate greater than the increase in demand - the cost of the service decreases and the amount of medical practitioners employed could increase).

      If, for example, you were a medical practitioner, there may be a conflict of interest. Where a proposed solution would result in a financial loss for persons concerned.

      Ultimately the role of people in a democracy is to decide what they want - the role of government is to work out how this is to be done. Ideally this would rely on scientifically justified processes.

    • acotrel says:

      09:31am | 24/02/11

      ‘First and foremost: Science tells us how and why, it does not tell us what we should do.’

      We can do as we like as long as we behave ethically and manage the risk.  We all have a duty of care, and while we side step it and put our responsibilities onto God, our situation on this planet becomes more tenuous. ‘God helps those who help themselves’?

    • DG says:

      09:57am | 24/02/11

      To paraphrase Einstein -  “Change is not necessary, survival is not mandatory.”.

      From where to we derive this duty of care? To whom is it owed?

      While I can see how one person has a duty owed to every other person, when we are talking about collective efforts it becomes a meaningless term - we have duty to a lump of rock spinning around a star?

      If we are talking about a duty to persons yet unknown, it is equally redundant. We must determine what standard of living we will accept against the cost to future generations.

      Ironically, the human race is atrocious at making such decisions, we burn coal, flood land rather than developing nuclear power - because of an accident in Chernobyl. We ignore the fact that far more people die from disease caused by airborne particulate matter (from burning carbon fuel) that could reasonably be expected to suffer from nuclear accidents. Simply put best case carbon polloution is far worse than wost case nuclear pollution, yet we choose the former again and again.

      The simple reason is “self interest”. A change in the order required to make a substantial difference is far beyond the price that most are willing to pay. This is true of environmental factors, population factors and even infrastructure.

      I agree that our apathy increases the risk that we will cease to be the dominant life form on this planet.

    • acotrel says:

      10:51am | 24/02/11

      @DG, Our duty of care is the ultimate expression of self-interest.  I believe that Christ made the ‘do unto others’ pronouncement! But I could be wrong, it might have been on the stone tablets handed to Moses which formed the basis of the book of rules?

    • DG says:

      12:35pm | 24/02/11

      I’m trying very hard to avoid making this debate about the viability of any particular religious as a source of duty or ethics - simply because there are so many religions with conflicting values and each is equally valid if we assume that “[Deity of choice] said” is binding agreement.

      The reference to the golden rule is in Luke 6:31 (or around there. The story of the good Samaritan) if I recall correctly, not in the commandments. I don’t think that the golden rule appears in either Exodus but I seem to recall something about loving the your neighbour despite their shortcomings in Leviticus (but I could be wrong, it doesn’t sound very old testament). 

      How is the duty of care self interest and how is it imposed. Even in Christian texts there is nothing about a duty to future generations (as far as I am aware).

    • acotrel says:

      04:23pm | 24/02/11

      DG, let me explain ‘duty of care’ with an example.  Suppose a contractor is intending to send employees into the roof of a residential building to instal pink batts.  He has a duty to take care that his employees are not electrocuted.  He does this under the state OHS legislation by conducting a Job Safety Analysis and taking action to minimise the risks to a tolerable level.  The contractor is responsible and accountable.  If there is a death arising from his gross negligence, he may be charged with manslaughter or ‘industrial homicide’!  His duty is to his employees, their families, and the other parties to the contract.  Then let us assume that the contract is let due to money being made available from the government of Australia.  The minister has the duty to ensure that legislation is adequate, and that it covers such matters as administrative control of risk.  He can be do this by legislating a requirement that all contractor’s management systems are certified to Australian Standards.  The concept of duty of care is about recognising the risk and controlling it appropriately.  The duty is owed to the community at large as well as specific individuals. Tony Abbott knows all about this stuff, and he knew it before he stuck it to Peter Garrett!

    • Ben Dant says:

      09:21am | 24/02/11

      “First and foremost: Science tells us how and why, it does not tell us what we should do”
      While I sort of agree, science is not a truth and very often revises fundamentals, if it doesn’t its a religion.  I would rephrase your statement to:
      “First and foremost: Science tells us how and why, using the scientific communities current agreed explanations. It does not tell us what we should do”

    • Steve says:

      09:38am | 24/02/11

      Bloody oath science tells us what we should do. Reduce population or our kids kids will die a horrible death. It doesn’t get simpler than that.

    • DG says:

      10:07am | 24/02/11

      Ben -

      You are, of course, correct. I was assuming (for the purpose of argument) that science did actually have the correct answers to the questions asked of it. the scientific method can tell us consequences, it can not tell us if those consequences are desirous.


      You’ve made my point exactly. Science tells us that if we don’t change, we will reach a point where famine, and plague are the norm. Science doesn’t tell us whether we should avoid that, only that the consequences of in action, and and project the consequences of certain actions. It is up to us to decide which action we will take given the (expected) outcome of that action.

      By the same theory we should stop sending aid to 3rd world countries where the birth rate is far higher than their resources can ever hope to sustain. That ‘redistribution’ of resources is done because people don’t want to sit by and watch children starve to death (a human decision based on the anticipated consequences of inaction).

      Science doesn’t say that we should help - only that we can help. It is up to humans whether they effect change.

    • acotrel says:

      11:05am | 24/02/11

      @DG, You are obviously one of those people who have NO FAITH in your fellow human beings.  Most people will do you a good turn before a bad one.  Most people have a strong survival instinct.  I have faith that science and technology will find effective answers to the global population explosion.  Unduly limitting our localised population in Australia might not be the efficient answer to the problem of feeding the world’s people.  All of the four major risk areas (quality, safety, environment, security) require balance between each other.  However if we don’t achieve a decent quality of life for ourselves and those around us we’ve failed

    • Freeman says:

      09:46am | 24/02/11

      What is concerning is that the economy relies on population growth for stability, but population growth is fuelling a housing crisis. you can see it all around they world, countries in the third world and the western world with over populated cities. sure, we can expand, develop more bushland, but it should not be our goal to develop 100% of the habitable landscape, and where exactly do we stop? there needs to be a global focus on control of the birth rate. I’ve always found it odd that in over populated countries where the community is starving there are concerted efforts to feed the starving but not to help stop them from breeding and continuing the cycle.

    • Freeman says:

      09:58am | 24/02/11

      Oh, and more locally, people who think they are doing the country a service by having large families need a reality check.

    • Richie says:

      10:15am | 24/02/11

      So true. Just wait until population pressures affect agriculture land around cities.

      Then we’ll see high food prices and scarcity.

    • AnthonG says:

      10:26am | 24/02/11

      When scientist can find a cure for a common cold we might start listening to them. As it is they only talk through there wallets.

    • Syl says:

      11:07am | 24/02/11

      Because science has never achieved anything worthwhile I guess?

      ( I say while sitting in a building, typing on my laptop, happy that my migraine preventative medication is working well).

    • acotrel says:

      04:50pm | 24/02/11

      We gave you the big flat screen TV, and still you’re not happy?

    • Levi says:

      10:42am | 24/02/11

      the only cell in the human body that grows for the sake of growth is a cancer cell. Humans are essentially a cancer on this planet, especially 3rd world nations unable to cap their population growth. Our “leaders”, how benevolent they are, have no idea how much of a disservice they are doing to our way of life when they advocate increased immigration, populations growth, and a big Australia.

    • MMR 25/02/2011 says:

      11:11am | 24/02/11

      Your comment:
      At the baby clinic and mothers clubs, too many babies is never enough.
      International Women’s Day is March 8.
      Only vasectomies for all men will solve the population problem.

    • thetrureal says:

      12:13pm | 24/02/11

      Stop all the baby bonuses, stop this parental payments and family tax benefits and see how fast people will wake up to reality.

      The money should be spent on people that are already alive due to no fault of their own and not for life that did not needed to be!

      People pop out kids and then complain to the government about how much it cost and want welfare for it, most companies have closed their operations here and have gone to Asian exploited countries and the companies still operating in Australia send most of their work offshore, so now we have too much people on the dole or disability pension.

      The infrastructure in Australian capitals cities such as Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane can’t even support what we have now and forget about any government spending money to upgrade it.

      The streets are always overcrowded as all you do is just sit in traffic wasting money on fuel!

      Third world countries pop out so many babies because rape is the normal there and they think it’s a blessing to have 5+ kids each family.

      The reality is that a large population is not sustainable unless we design free unlimited energy sources!

    • acotrel says:

      04:47pm | 24/02/11

      Who then is going to pay the taxes to support me in my old age?  I worked all my life in good faith and paid taxes, with the expectation that there would be a safety net.  What should I do - top myself if I can’t afford to live, and I’m unfit for employment? I suspect the truth might be that Australia could easily supporet a doubling of population, if we took appropriate care in installing infrastructure.

    • martin says:

      12:18pm | 24/02/11

      The time for talk is over.

      Just vote for the Stable Population Party.

    • stephen says:

      01:56pm | 24/02/11

      Doctors use up 7 years of their young life learning to fix the individual, but now they can use all that ‘theory’  - and I use that here word very cynically - to plan a master-plan for the happiness of us all, i.e. they’ve made the empirical connection between the individual and the group.
      Hallelulah, brother ; when I next need a tree felled, I’ll ask around a plumber.(or plumbers.)

    • Wernstrom says:

      02:26pm | 24/02/11

      We’ve got a whole universe to expand into

    • bleD says:

      04:00pm | 24/02/11

      Silly person. We cannot travel en masse to Mars let alone anywhere else. Planet Earth is all we have.

    • Wernstrom says:

      05:08pm | 24/02/11

      it will be our only option eventually. i don’t see why we don’t put more resources into making it a reality sooner rather than later.. all these short term solutions just delay the inevitable. but i guess being humans, we’ll just wait until it’s too late

    • Shelley says:

      03:01pm | 24/02/11

      No use bringing science up with these lying government lemons. They’re that pig ignorant the crap happy crappy PM didn’t even bother to meet once with the government science adviser before the science adviser quit in disgust!

      Get rid of the lost Labor lemons before they tax the crap out of us!

    • acotrel says:

      01:39am | 25/02/11

      Are ytou saying that Penny Sackett has quit?  Her web page doesn’t say that! - More invention of the truth from the conservatives?

    • Gordicans says:

      06:45pm | 24/02/11

      As the author alludes to, our political system is incapable of running population policy.  The reason is simple; conflict of interest.  It would be political suicide for any government to run a sustainable population policy because of pressure from the business lobby.  Business wants a growing population because 1. it is cheaper to hire a migrant than train up an unemployed western suburbs youth 2. growing population mean new markets.

      Clearly we need an statuatory authority completely independent of the government of the day to determine and oversee a sustainable population policy, much in the same way the Reserve Bank manages the currency.

    • antiCHRIST says:

      08:01pm | 24/02/11

      i agree. pollies will never relinquish their grip over anything that could be better managed by scientists as long as its in their interest to maintain control of it. the sad truth is that “sustainability” is a pipe dream as long as policy, on most issues, is dictated by polititians who have too much to gain personally (or on party lines) to truely consider an alternative which may benefit humanity, as long as there is a personal or party gain to be had in lieu of an alternative that may help australians. sadly, the political squabbling we read about daily will quash any chance we have collectively of improving our great country in terms of sustainability. science is the future, politics is the stumbling block that must be overcome.

    • acotrel says:

      01:43am | 25/02/11

      Perhaps migrants are more motivated?

    • Trude says:

      11:48pm | 24/02/11

      Just for the record, Adelaide has cooties (scientific ones), also we ran out of beer and pies. We have drop bears, hoop snakes and all sorts of nasties, so don’t even think of coming here if it gets overpopulated in the Eastern states.

    • Soylentgreen says:

      06:27pm | 01/03/11

      Divert all of our foreign aid to family planning.
      @ Acotrel - Go live in bangladesh if you love crowds so much.
      Perth has become a horrible city to live in. I would leave for the country but am trapped by high rents/utilities/water - I can’t save anything - these costs increase with population.

    • The Civet says:

      01:53pm | 31/03/11

      I am pleased to see some medicos appear to be worried about Australia’s population explosion. Might I suggest these same medicos will haul all those Catholic doctors who refuse to pass on patients who are pregnant, to medicos who aren’t Catholic.

      Between Catholics and big business the voting public doesn’t stand a chance of living a semi-crowded life. Neither group will be happy until the world population stands at twenty billion people.

      All potential migrants should be refused entry until they agree to having a two child family, and all Oz women should adapt to a two child policy.

      Will any government have the balls to invoke a two-child policy? No way. Those aren’t children that aren’t being born. They’re potential voters.


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