The population debate: to grow, or not to grow?

THE population of Australia is expected to grow rapidly in the next 50 years. There are competing arguments for and against such growth occurring.

This article attempts to provide an outline of some of the arguments and opinions regarding population growth in Australia. Please check back periodically as new ideas and opinions are added.

Article: Australian cities must transform for population growth

"AUSTRALIA circa 2050, population 35 million, climate change induced rising sea levels have flooded the Gold Coast resort region, apartment blocks are now used to grow food and people commute in monorail pods above the sea...In another city, Australians live on floating island pods with apartments both below and above sea level, the population has shifted from land to the sea because of the sky-rocketing value of disappearing arable land...Climate change has also forced many Australians to move inland and create new cities in the outback, relying on solar power to exist in the inhospitable interior."

In a Reuters feature, Michael Perry writes that these are just a few scenarios by some of Australia's architects shortlisted for "Ideas for Australian Cities 2050+" to be staged at this year's Venice Architecture Biennale.

Mr Perry writes that Australia needs to transform by improving transport, sustainability and encouraging higher density living in order to cope with population growth.

Source: Michael Perry, 'Australian cities must transform for population growth', Reuters, 14 March 2010, <>

Article: Australia does not have capacity for 35m in 2050: The Greens

The Greens have involved themselves in the population debate, with leader Bob Brown telling reporters that a population of 35 million by 2050 is not sustainable.

It has been reported that The Greens will move a motion in the Senate calling on the Federal Government to establish an independent inquiry to examine Australia's population. The Greens leader Bob Browner said that Australia "definitely" does not have the infrastructure or plans to support a population of 35 million people by 2050. "We live in a fantastic continent, privileged above all on the face of this planet," Senator Brown told reporters. "It's going to take some very wise decision-making to keep it that way," he said.

The Greens want the inquiry to investigate Australia's population capacity and the impact population growth will have on infrastructure, health, education and the environment.

The Federal Opposition supports the inquiry, with Shadow Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Scott Morrison, saying that the proposal for a National Inquiry into a sustainable population for Australia has merit. Mr Morrison said Australia cannot take a passive approach to population growth.

Reference: 'Population growth a threat: Greens', The Age, 14 March 2010, <>.

Article: Australia 'must plan new city' to cope with population

Demographer Bernard Salt believes Australia should plan for a new city, like a Gold Coast of the west, to cope with the population boom predicted by 2050, writes Yuko Narushima in The Age.

Mr Salt states that Australia has the resources and ability to accommodate millions more people, but warns that it "will require a significant modification in the way we have settled the country and our lifestyle…[and] might also be appropriate to look for a new city up north, in the same way that in the last 50 years we've created the Gold Coast."

By 2050, the global population is set to grow to 9 billion from about 7 billion today. As a nation of 22 million with the resources of a continent, Australia had a moral imperative to take its share of migrants, Mr Salt said.

"We need to project that we are a generous nation," he said. "You might get away with no growth for the next 10 years, but then those pressures build up."

Source: Yuko Narushima, 'Australia 'must plan new city' to cope with population', The Age, 26 January 2010, <>.

Article: The Lleyton Hewitt lesson in solving Australia's population issues

Michael R. James provides his views on the population debate in Australia, with an Australian Open-inspired article in The Age. Mr James likens the stubbornness of Australians to accept urban change with Lleyton Hewitt's stubbornness to attempt new strategies in tennis.

Mr James likens sprawl to a tumour: "continuous outward growth of a city to a bacterial colony on an agar plate or a tumour in the body: as the colony sprawls outward, consuming resources and despoiling its environment, the inner core deteriorates."

The author attacks the notion that a population of 35 million is unsupportable. Instead, it is argued that the current population of 22 million lacks both the physical resources and intellectual capital to cope.

Source: Michael R. James, 'The Lleyton Hewitt lesson in solving Australia's population issues', The Age, 28 January 2010, <>.

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