Populate and Perish, Warns Labor MP

Populate and perish, warns Labor MP

By Ashley Hall for AM
AM | abc.net.au/am
November 30, 2009

A Federal Labor MP says the Government's push to reduce the size of Australia's environmental footprint is not being helped by its population policy, which is continually adding more feet.

Kelvin Thomson wants the Government to cap Australia's population at 26 million and he says failure to act will create an environmental disaster.

Mr Thomson stepped up his campaign with a speech to the Victorian branch of Sustainable Population Australia.

He says given the amount of emails he is receiving, his message is attracting a lot of support.

“People are concerned about our water supplies and our capacity to meet the food and water demands of a growing population,” he said.

“They are concerned about urban sprawl and the quality of life in our cities. They raise issues about the impact on native wildlife. So a variety of concerns.”

The catalyst for the feedback was a speech Mr Thomson gave in Parliament in August, calling on world leaders to stabilise the world's population.

He said the world's growing population was to blame for the food crisis, water shortages, housing affordability, the extinction of species and, of course, climate change.

“It is pretty hard to reduce your carbon footprint when you keep adding more feet, and that is true right around the globe.

“With the world on track to increase its population by 50 per cent by 2050, at the same time as scientists are saying we have to cut carbon emissions by 60 per cent, clearly there is a problem. And I believe this does need to be discussed at Copenhagen.”

The latest Treasury projections indicate that the Australian population could reach 35 million by 2049, and Prime Minister Kevin Rudd argues a population of that size would be good for Australia's long-term national security.

But Mr Thomson is having none of that.

“I don't accept the idea that because Australia is not overcrowded compared to other countries, that we should be copying these other countries,” he said.

Mr Thomson's stance puts him in the opposite corner to the Prime Minister. But he says that is not by choice.

“I have said for quite some time that I believe that there is a problem in relation to global population levels,” he said.

“If you look at issues to do with our water supplies, with our food supplies, with the pressure on our cities, all of these things suggest that we need to change course.”

Mr Thomson says it will take a long time to change the minds of those policy makers who are committed to a bigger Australian population, because they have been lobbied by self-interested big business.

“It needs people to mobilise, to contact media, to contact their members of parliament and to raise these issues on the internet and the like so that there is an understanding both of what is at stake and of community views about this issue,” he said.


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Labor MP claims increasing support for population freeze (AM)

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