Population a growing issue

Inadequacies in Australia’s defence capabilities seems to be

leading the growing sentiment to increase the country’s population.

Labor leader Kim Beazley, a long-time advocate for a greater

population, is leading the debate that for many years has been to hot to handle by governments because of general community opposition.

Mr Beazley spelt out Labor’s defence and population policy recently in Perth to attendees of a dinner organised by the Chinese Chamber of Commerce.

“Australia will benefit from a larger population through higher economic growth, better regional development, addressing the problems of an ageing population and also, I might add, a better population base for defending the nation,” he said.

“Immigration intake is obviously central to achieving these goals.”

Labor’s population policy is part of its three-pronged general national security policy that also includes foreign and defence policy.

Mr Beazley’s commitment to revisiting the unpopular immigration issue is encouraging others to join in the debate.

A group of industry leaders have formed the Australian Population Institute. The Institute sees increased population as central to Australia’s long term viability.

Another prominent advocate for a higher population has been the National Civic Council.

In the Council’s 4 December News Weekly publication the council welcomed Labor’s position.

“For the first time in many years the major political parties now have markedly divergent views on immigration, decentralisation and fertility rates,” News Weekly said.

“Labor is at least attempting to open up the debate on this vital issue which is the ticking time bomb for Australian governments of all political persuasions.”

The article said: “Pushing for more migrants to come to Australia is not a winner.

“In fact, Labor has chosen a bold, controversial and...unpopular path, which is fraught with political

dangers,” it said.

The Council may be right judging by a emotive seminar held recently at the University of WA on the question of populate or perish or the alternative, populate and perish.

Proponents for an increase in immigration levels had to contend with a vocal audience who appeared largely against a greater population.

Centre for Asia Pacific Social Transformation Studies director Stephen Castles told the audience our water resources alone could support between 50 and 200 million people.

Even though only about 20 per cent of Australia’s land is arable, this still represents a land area the size of Germany and France combined. This area alone could support as many as 180 million people if we had the same population density as the United Kingdom, Professor Castles said.

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