Does Australia need population control?
Does Australia need population control?
Population control is the policy and measures that a government puts in place to increase or limit the growth of its population. In Australia, there are competing ideologies that shape the Government’s decision to limit or encourage population growth. This essay will agree that Australia needs population control in order to ensure the sustainability of the country and the world itself.
Australia’s population is predominantly westerners who migrated from Britain and Europe in order to build a population and economy capable of defending itself in the future. The history of this country is entrenched in ideology that encouraged immigrants to come here (Smith 2003). To follow the thread of this political thought, Australia needs population growth because it increases the economic value of this country. Arguably, a larger population means further economic and social development.
The Australian Government’s Productivity Commission argues that additional people will increase the work-force which will help the supply of labour, increase gross national capital and in turn balance the government’s cheque-book (Productivity Commission 2011). An increase in revenue will likely contribute to broader social services packages. An increased workforce will result in an increase in consumers of various goods and services, including those delivered outside the market. The positive implications of population growth are seen in wages, capital returns, fair pricing, and goods and services accessibility in the market and non-market sectors. The population growth in Australia increased enormously between 1960 and 2010, with a jump from 8.2 million to 22.2 million; meanwhile, overall wealth has also seen an increase (Productivity Commission 2011).
However, population control policy has become a topic of debate as the impact of climate change becomes increasingly clear, and our negative footprints on our natural resources becomes a more pressing issue. Increasing the population will generate negative environmental and social impacts. The more populated the country becomes, the more environmental destruction and damage will be caused (Department of the Environment 2010). As the population increases so does the intensive use of natural resources, which results in damage to the sensitive Australian ecosystem. This destruction includes mass deforestation, population encroachment on natural habitats, polluted waterways and the release of greenhouse gases into our atmosphere.
To slow this process down, population policy is necessary to stabilised Australia’s population growth. This policy must focus on how we could limit our population, although it cannot conflict with Australia’s commitment to protecting human rights. Strategies that can be used are those which push for more equal opportunities, especially for women to have education and to become more independent, as financial and social independence will allow women to make decisions about their own bodies, particularly in relation to child-rearing. We cannot force birth control, but can strongly encourage it by educating women and offering them access to vital medical services. Population policy also addresses immigration programs that can be easily monitored by the government for changes if needed (Sustainable Population Australia 2020).
It’s true that we will have to live very differently if our population stops growing. We will adapt and become more economically resilient in an environmentally friendly way. This will not only benefit our natural environment, but the world we live in. According to the Sustainable Population Strategy (2011), the investment in research and development into our natural resources will increase the productivity and efficiency of our natural products, while protecting landscapes and encouraging resilient biodiversity. Furthermore, the reduction of consumption of energy will protect natural capital, and result in public transportation upgrade investment. These changes and adjustments to our consumptions will reduce population, mitigate our natural resources, reduce pollution levels, protect our natural habitats, reduce global warming and decrease poverty rates. This is the strategy the Australian government put in place to ensure sustainability of our planet but it has to be reviewed and reinforced; unfortunately, the last review was in 2010 (Allen 2020).
The Productivity Commission argues for population growth because it will aggregate the size of the economy, creating more jobs and services which will have a big impact on the government revenue. However, using population growth as the central engine for economic well being is not a sustainable strategy, and ignores the impact we put on our natural resources. Sir David Attenborough, cited in Miller (2016) stated “Either we limit our population growth or the natural world will do it for us”. This population control will help us to ensure the sustainability of our planet in resilient and inclusive ways.
Allen, L 2017, “Australia does not have population policy -why?” The conversion media” viewed 9 October 2020,
Australian Government, Productivity commission research report on A ‘Sustainable Population 2011” viewed 7 October 2020, chapter 13, https://www.pc.gov.au/research/supporting/sustainable-population/25-population-chapter13.pdf
Australian Government, Department of Environment report assessment on “Key Threatening Process Nomination Form — For adding a threatening process under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act)” viewed 8 October 2020, description 3, https://www.environment.gov.au/system/files/pages/87ef6ac7-da62-4a45-90ec-0d473863f3e6/files/nomination-human-population-growth.pdf
Miller G,T 2016, “The Human Population” President, Earth Education and Research
Parliament of Australia 1997, An Australia population policy, viewed 7 October 2020 https://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Parliamentary_Departments/Parliamentary_Library/pubs/rp/RP9697/97rp17#COMPO
Sustainable Population Australia, Australia’s Population, viewed 8 October 2020, https://population.org.au/about-population/australias-population
Smith, S 2003, “Population Growth: Implications for Australia and Sydney”, viewed 09 October 2020, https://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/researchpapers/Documents/population-growth-implications-for-australia-and/05-03.pdf