Australia is at a crucial juncture. The pandemic resulted in two years of very slight population growth (due to births). Not since 1916 during WWI has anything like this occurred. Australians now have the rarest of opportunities to assess the value of a stable population.
For decades federal governments have foisted recklessly fast immigration-driven population growth on the Australian public. Politicians can no longer claim this is ‘inevitable’ and ‘unstoppable’, as the Prime Minister has done. They are clearly choosing a policy that most Australians oppose (Figure 8). They oppose it for many reasons; see extended article.
The government’s call for a return to high (or even higher) immigration levels coinciding with a federal election has for the first time ever, made immigration an election issue.
The RBA , the ACTU and sections of the media appear to be seeing the benefits for wage-earners and those seeking work. Allan Kohler recently wrote that immigration policy is “the most material economic decision to be made by whoever wins the next election.”
High levels of immigration sustained over many years is a hugely transformative policy, and yet no legislation is required because Cabinet alone decides the quota for new arrivals.
Many people leave Australia each year. We could take in the same number. Even then births would keep Australia’s population rising for decades. Refugees have made up only 5-10% of Australia’s immigration in recent years. This could be increased even with zero net migration.
The Opposition has taken a slightly different stand. But is it enough? Calling on the Coalition to hold a plebiscite alongside the 2022 election will help concentrate attention on the issue during the campaign. The Coalition’s likely resistance to it can be used to point to the lack of support for its policy. The cost savings of running a plebiscite during an federal election will give the Coalition even fewer excuses. As long as the Opposition takes a different stand, it should gain electoral support.
Is there enough support for a plebiscite to succeed? Certainly not in parliament. The Big Australia advocates – powerful wealthy donors – have captured both major parties and the Greens don’t need to be captured. They have had their way for too long. It’s time ALL Australians were taken into account, including all our other species. Let’s set an example to the world and do our bit to help save the planet.
Let’s raise the profile of this discussion, and make it okay to talk about. Please spread this message.