Population surge prompts new political party
By Angela Harper
The Australian Associated Press, April 27, 2010
A new political party is relying on a surge in members, not the population, to secure its place on the federal voting ballot paper.
Bob Couch heads up the Stop Population Growth Now (SPGN) party, which was launched in Adelaide today, and is running for a Senate seat in the federal election, expected this year.
New modelling shows Australia's population will reach 42 million by 2050, six million more than the federal government's target.
The SPGN party believes Australia's population will surpass that number, forecasting 50 million people by 2050, crippling environment, water supplies and infrastructure.
'Australia cannot grow forever,' Mr Couch said.
'We can't cope with an ageing population, and the reality is, the longer you leave it, the harder it's going to be able to cope.
'Eventually, Australia's population growth has got to stop.'
But the party, which says it plans to run candidates in every state, can't register with the Australian Electoral Commission until it has 500 members. So far, its membership is little more than a handful.
Mr Couch says recruitment is a race against time with the federal election expected in Spring.
But, Mr Couch says, he is confident they will make the numbers.
'Four polls in recent months have all indicated that about 70 per cent of Australians do not support the Rudd government's deliberate push for a 'big Australia' with all its adverse environmental, social and economic consequences,' he said.
Mr Couch said that with little to no support from other parties, he wanted to give voters a chance to vote on population growth.
But South Australian Liberal Party deputy Mitch Williams backed the call for population growth to come under the spotlight.
If the global population had a western lifestyle, the world would have already used up its resources.
'It's a political debate that we need to have and we need to have it sooner rather than later,' Mr Williams said.
'If we don't start to address this fundamental issue urgently, the whole world will become what we regard as a third world standard.'
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd earlier this month named frontbencher Tony Burke as the government's population minister with responsibility to devise a plan to manage the nation's population growth.
As Australia's first population minister, he will have 12 months to examine what numbers the country can accommodate, and ensure they are provided for with infrastructure, housing and water.
Federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has called on the government to come clean with its population forecasts.