Populate and Our Environment Will Perish

Paul Collins, February 2007

Actually, I think the premiers are worse than Howard, although his environmental credentials are hardly stellar. They talk endlessly about water shortages, citizens are harangued about saving the precious liquid, and quotas imposed and then, literally in the next sentence, the same premiers are talking about "the need to increase population," as though more people won't need more water.

Take Victoria's Steve Bracks: in one breath he talks about water shortages and dam levels being dangerously low, and in the next says Melbourne needs a million more people by 2025. Or Jon Stanhope of the ACT: he preaches jeremiads on Canberra's dire water shortage, and then announces four new Canberra suburbs full of Mac-mansions.

One of the unmentionable (and nowadays politically incorrect) questions in Australia is how many people the continent can sustain while retaining some respect for the integrity of the landscape. Political parties, including the Greens, scamper for cover the moment population policy is mentioned. But Australia is not infinite; there is a limit to our productive capacity, and we may well have already exceeded it. More ...

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