In recent years Australia has embraced immigration and not thought twice about natural increase, but has it now caught up with us?
As the population growth rate hits 1.8%, with 405,400 people added to the economy in the last year alone, business leaders are calling for a smaller Australia.
Australian businessman Dick Smith and Flight Centre boss Graham Tuner lead a discussion on Australia’s population growth at the National Press Club yesterday.
Smith said if trends continue this way Australia’s population would hit “80 to 100 million by the end of the century if we keep growing”, which he said would worsen living conditions and hurt the majority of Australians.
“The cake is a certain size, mainly coming from our mineral reserves and our primary production from farming, and double the population, I believe everyone’s worth half as much.”
Smith said it is time the government starts to discuss options for a more sustainable system.
“No country of our size has got such a staggering increase and so we’ve got to be discussing it,” he said.
Immigration won’t help the ageing population.
“What we’ve been told is that the way you solve the ageing population problem is to have more immigrants… Of course they get older, so you need even more [immigration] . . . [but] you are not going to solve the problem by the way we are looking at it now.”
A report by the Australian Bureau of Statistics entitled Does Size Matter?, has projected if the current system continues Australia’s population will reach 31 million in 2033 from 23.3 million in 2013.
It also found that if a smaller Australia system was applied the population would be 30 million in 2033. But if immigration was to cease the population would only increase to 25 million in 2033.
Here’s what Australia’s population would look like if a. current trends continue, b. Smith and Turner’s smaller Australia eventuated and c. immigration ceased.
The well-canvased issue of immigration has again attracted attention following reports last week that the government has been ignoring fraudulent visa applications.
As unemployment hits a 12-year-high, unions are now questioning the governments immigration requirements.
In a statement from The Australian Council of Trade Unions, Paul Bastian, The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union National Secretary has called for a more “transparent and regulated system – that before a company is allowed to sponsor a single 457 visa worker they have genuinely exhausted all local options. We need a system that ensures local jobs and training first.”
A number of other union leaders voiced their concerns regarding employing workers from overseas rather than choosing from the local pool of applicants.
Last year the Immigration Department granted 101,230 permanent working visas.
But Turner said the alleged growth problem will not be fixed by stopping immigration, rather it simply has to be re-scaled.
“We’ve got a population the size of Canberra being added every year and we’ve got to build a city to house them. I would say we’ve got to drive it back to between 75,000 and 80,000,” he said referring to immigration numbers.
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