Fenner conference recommends “new” population policies

On 10 and 11 October, Sustainable Population Australia hosted the 2013 Fenner Conference on the environment at the Australian Academy of Science. The theme was “Population, Resources and Climate Change – Implications for Australia’s near future”.

The panel of speakers could be described as distinguished. Alternatively, they were nearly all the well-meaning usual suspects, local and visiting, saying it all again to each other. We wonder how many of these good folk heard about the REDUCE IMMIGRATION write-on? … promoted it to friends, family and colleagues? … and actually wrote the slogan on their ballot papers in September?

We’ve heard that Kelvin Thomson MP indicated that there may be another new population organisation in formulation. And a third-hand rumour from the conference sidelines is that zero/nil net migration might be back as a concept, so Groundhog Day may be with us again…

Our sense of a time-loop is prompted by the fact that it was 20 years ago, in 1993, that the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) adopted zero/nil net migration as part of its updated population policy, having been prodded in this direction by diligent members for five years or so. Zero net migration was already a policy platform for Australians Against Further Immigration, since its inception in 1988. Both the Australian Democrats and then the Greens adopted zero/nil net migration policies in 1994/95. Regrettably, none of the ACF, Democrats or Greens ever effectively promoted or politicised the policy – and eventually they all watered it down, buried it, or abandoned it entirely over time.

Coming back to the present: the 2013 Fenner Conference agreed on a Declaration.  It recognises “that global population continues to grow by 80 million, and Australia’s by 400,000 annually of which 60 per cent comes from net overseas migration“. The Declaration calls on Australians and their governments “to develop policies to stabilise Australia’s population”.

Whilst we congratulate Sustainable Population Australia on another successful conference and for drawing attention to the latest data (Australian Demographic Statistics, March 2013) concerning our population growth, we believe that policies to stabilise the size of our population can only work after the rapid re-formulation of policies that will REDUCE IMMIGRATION to Australia.

Meanwhile, how about encouraging everyone to write REDUCE IMMIGRATION atop their ballot papers?

Update, 23 April 2015: The proceedings of the 2013 Fenner conference were published in December 2014 as Sustainable Futures: Linking Population, Resources and the Environment, edited by Jenny Goldie and Katharine Betts. The book can be ordered from the publisher, CSIRO Publishing.

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