Australia is Out Front on Population Matters

Published on June 13th, 2011

Australia is Out Front on Population Matters Australia isn’t keeping population matters in the outback; they are at the front of discussions. The Land Down Under has created its first population policy. The docuMaria Fotopoulosment, Sustainable Australia – Sustainable Communities / A Sustainable Population Policy Strategy for Australia, recognizes differing views among Australians as to increasing or stabilizing immigration (the word “reducing” isn’t even used) and seems to try to take a very politically correct, balanced approach. It talks of “managing the impacts of all aspects of our current population, closely monitoring migration levels, and using population projections for the short to medium term to plan and prepare for our population’s needs in the future.” And, it steers clear of any population targets. The policy takes a very positive and optimistic approach to the rapid population growth the country has experienced, stating that the “objective is to ensure that future changes in Australia’s population (size, growth rate, composition and location) are compatible with the sustainability of our economy, communities and the environment. These three elements – economic prosperity, livable communities and environmental sustainability – are the foundations of the nation’s wellbeing.” While the Aussies seem to be having – and most appropriately so – a vigorous debate about the specifics of the policy, the point is that the country actually has one, putting them way ahead of the United States which continues failing to even start the discussion, despite population projections that are scary to contemplate given such factors as current high unemployment rates, continuing loss of biodiversity, lack of energy independence and a litany of other woes. It would bode well for us here in the U.S. at all levels – local, regional, state and national – to follow the Australian lead and stick a toe in these waters. If we haven’t even begun to define a problem, we can’t address it. At a minimum, we should be looking at the Australian document as the beginning of a template for our country – and hopefully, eventually, develop a policy that forgoes some of the political correctness of Australia’s to more directly address rampant population growth.

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