Majority Against High Population Growth

The two items below emphasise the point that while the business community still favors high population growth, the Australian public (including even the relatively "New Class" audience of Radio National) is now increasingly against it.

1.  SPA member Dally Messenger has placed a reply in Business Spectator, chiding the editor Alan Kohler for his pro-population-growth take on last week's debate at the DAVOS "Future Summit":

from Dally Messenger

27 May 2010 8:32 PM

For some months, polls have shown that around 70 per cent of Australians are opposed to major population growth, and believe it is causing a decline in their quality of life.   (See FUTURE SUMMIT: Rolling up the drawbridge, by Alan Kohler, May 25.)

Yet, sentiment in business is quite different.

Tuesday's debate was a rare occasion for the business community to observe Bernard Salt of KPGM, going head to head for an hour with Mark O'Connor, who as co-author of 'Overloading Australia', put the case for capping Australia's population. Though polite, it was, as Kohler says, "an often vigorous debate", and one in which much of the audience was, seemingly like Kohler was, emphatically on the 'Big Australia' side.


Salt argued emphatically and at length that we cannot cap Australia's population because of the costs of the aging population that would result. Perhaps to his surprise, O'Connor took up the challenge. He laid siege to Salt's position, citing a raft of economic authorities, and claimed to find several holes in Salt's demographic assumptions.
This led to a remarkable admission from Salt – one that is unlikely to be retracted since there were over a hundred persons present and the proceedings were recorded. "I am not a demographer at all," Salt told the audience, "but a historian." Though Salt went on to point out that he has an MA in urban history, and O'Connor remarked that he considered Salt a reasonable amateur demographer, it was still a major concession.
Salt has often been presented by the media as a, or even the, major authority on Australia's population options, and has been repeatedly described as 'demographer Bernard Salt', 'leading demographer', and even 'Australia's foremost demographer'.
To report the debate without mentioning this missed an important part of the account.

2.  Peter Mares's influential ABC Radio National program The National Interest revisited the population issue briefly last Friday
Last week in The National Interest we discussed population growth, broadcasting a forum recorded recently in Melbourne with five speakers of different viewpoints.
As predicted, the program generated plenty of listener comment.
Our program asked whether Melbourne, Australia's fastest growing capital, would still be marvellous in 2050, with double today's population. This prompted a call from Edward in Tyalgum in northern NSW, who says population pressures are not confined to cities.
"We have a population rate of about 5% per annum which is more than twice that of Melbourne, so our problems are even more magnificent, even bigger than Melbourne's problems and we are suffering as a result of the population policy of the Commonwealth government."
Robin from Glen Waverly in Victoria was one of many listeners impressed by the views of poet Mark O'Connor, who argued that Australia must stop growing and stabilise or even reduce its population.
"I enjoyed the discussion. It was very interesting but the person I totally agreed with was Mark O'Connor . He was the voice of rationality and I did wonder if he had a better picture than anybody else because he was a poet. Everybody else was affiliated with some sort of association, some interest, financial or conservation or immigration whatever but he was the one who's got the right ideas. Bye."
Most responses to the program were in a similar vein, highlighting the urgency of slowing or reversing population growth, ...