Sick of the congestion? Time to talk about immigration

Michael Duffy
June 28, 2008

The congestion problems in the news this week have the same cause as a lot of other problems that make the Herald's front page. They're due to our increasing population, or more precisely, our failure to make adequate provision for it.

This might seem obvious, but in fact Sydney is in a state of denial about population increase. We don't prepare for it adequately and seem constantly surprised that public services and infrastructure fail. When they do, we blame politicians, or climate change, or the greed of people (other people) for cars and houses and air conditioning. Anything but what is often the main cause, population growth.....

Another reason immigration has been ignored is because to question it is to be seen as politically incorrect, even racist. This could why the environmental movement has largely ignored it, despite its central role in the problems the movement talks about all the time.

The Australian Greens' record on this has been documented by author and conservationist William J. Lines. Writing with Natalie Stone in People and Place in 2003, he noted: "Originally promulgated in 1995, the [Green] party's population policy was revised in 1998 and again in 2002. With each revision the Greens altered their principles, lessened their commitment to limiting population growth … [and] replaced concern about population and environmental degradation with a social justice, global human rights platform.".........

Barry Cohen, the former Labor politician, noted recently that it is bizarre to hold apocalyptic beliefs about human-induced climate change while supporting near-record levels of immigration.

It's time for a national conversation about immigration numbers. We'll be starting from a long way behind. At the moment the Government doesn't even have an overall number for immigration for next year, which is strange when you consider the Prime Minister's belief in planning and targets.

The issue of population was treated in a trivial manner by the 2020 Summit, which arrived at the following vision: "By 2020 we will have a sustainable population and consumption policy: while the population grows, net consumption should decrease."

Let's get real......