Fear mongering over the size of Australia’s population is founded in ignorance.
When Australia’s population reached the 23 million mark last month, one newspaper ran the following headline on a feature article by a WA Stable Population Party (SPP) Senate candidate: ‘The population time bomb: 23 million and growing’.
Time bomb? Seriously?
That figure, the author of the article claimed, was where Australia’s population should remain.
“There have been a number of scientific studies on the population issue, including the 1994 Australian Academy of Sciences study considering the supply of water, minerals, and arable land,” he wrote.
He then quoted from that AAS report: “In our view, the quality of all aspect of our children’s lives will be maximised if the population of Australia by the mid-21st century is kept to the low, stable end of the achievable range (about 23 million).”
Since the words, “about 23 million”, aren’t within squared brackets this suggests that’s the level the AAS, in 1994, saw as desirable for 2050; so we’re 37 years ahead of schedule.
How could their calculation be so far off target?
However that’s not the only quirky aspect of the candidate’s AAS claim.
During my 50-plus years in Australia just about everything about this country and its people appears to have improved significantly – people live longer, they’re healthier, have higher average incomes and markedly better lifestyles.
As for the environment, the air and water are still clean and the latter is far more accessible for a greater portion of the population.
But there’s been one truly retrograde trend.
The most obvious difference between today’s Australia and when I arrived as a four-year old refugee is the absence of the once-abundant number of infants in prams and/or parental arms.
Australia, quite frankly, is deficient in children, and has been so for quite some time.
A continuation of proportionately fewer births to deaths is a sure way of extinguishing Australian culture.
True, there are numerous factors behind Australia’s low birth rate of 1.88 births per woman (2011 total fertility rate figures), but one not to be ignored is that it’s now fashionable to proselytise catastrophist thinking via an interminable number of crackpot ideas.
Australians are being endlessly subjected to calls to embrace a collective frame of mind that is, quite frankly, morose.
Such predictions, such whinging, are now so widespread that even a catastrophist political party, the Greens, has arisen with members in parliaments.
According to Greens backers the world is set to fry (global warming), the seas will rise (inundation), nearly all animal species seem destined for extinction, and, of course, Australia is overpopulated.
Give me a break.
If it’s not one concocted catastrophe, it’s another.
Where do such miserable apocalyptic and unsubstantiated make-ups come from?
Unfortunately, they dominate a sizeable part of Australians’ thinking.
Little wonder so many Australians decide against having children, and when they do it’s generally only one, not three or four like their parents.
The only catastrophe confronting Australia that I can identify is a desire by growing numbers of Australians not to replace themselves – that’s truly catastrophic.
Thankfully, however, some are speaking out against such a miserable and catastrophist view of things.
The best is retired Monash University academic Patrick Morgan, who said it so well in a groundbreaking article: ‘The Geo-political Case for a Big Australia’ (Quadrant, December 2011).
“The Greens’ worldview is a narcissistic ‘Me Generation’ stance – insular, selfish and narrow,” he wrote.
“They can’t recognise how atypical our situation is.
“We could fit our present population into Victoria or even Tasmania, and still feed and resource ourselves without excessive discomfort in world terms.
“I’m not saying we should, just that we could.
“Sri Lanka has about Australia’s population and about Tasmania’s size; its population density is 43 times that of Tasmania.”
His comparisons certainly struck a chord with me since he’s immune to Greens-style catastrophism that’s so adversely impacting upon Australians, in so many ways.
Mr Morgan could have included the Republic of China (Taiwan), where I visited in 1976. Its population then was almost exactly the same as Australia’s at the time – 14 million.
How big is Taiwan? Half the size of Tasmania, just 32,260 square kilometres. Its economy was booming, its people optimistic.
Little wonder backward Communist China’s then paramount leader, Deng Hsiao-ping, opted in 1979 to put China onto Taiwan’s path, to Australia’s current benefit.