In October, when a contingent of Californians for Population Stabilization representatives convened in Washington D.C., we attended the fourth annual Population Strategy Meeting.
Among the presenters was the Stable Population Party of Australia, an organization that has as its goals similar objectives to CAPS.
The Stable Population Party, a federally registered political entity made up of committed people from various backgrounds, works to give Australians a choice on population and the quality of life for existing and future generations. More than 80 percent of Australians do not want more neighbors.
Focused on promoting an intelligent discussion of the consequences of overpopulation, the Stable Population Party is, like CAPS, trying to redirect the debate about immigration to a numbers-based argument. In other words, the question is not “where from” but rather “how many.”
Australia’s population problems are identical to those in the United States: water shortages, air pollution, species extinction, overcrowding in major cities and popular coastal towns and relentless sprawl. Also adversely impacted by population growth are schools, hospitals and demands on social services.
Like the United States government, Australia’s elected officials are mostly unwilling to sensibly debate the crucial role of population stabilization will play in the country’s future.
The SPP wants to stabilize Australia’s population at 23-26 million by 2050, roughly its current total and identified by demographers as the “safe upper limit” by 2050. Without action, Australia’s 2050 population will be 35-40 million; in 2100, 100 million. Australia’s population growth is averaging 450,000 annually.
To reach its goal, the SPP urges that the Australia government implement a formal national population policy with a ceiling of 23-26 million inhabitants by 1) phasing out the baby bonus (income tax credit), 2) establish what it calls a “balanced and flexible” immigration policy with annual immigration at around 50,000 including the yearly refugee intake of 13,750. The SPP also promotes an Australian foreign aid policy which would be limited to countries that focus on environmental stabilization, women’s rights and family planning.
One unique problem facing Australia which it must modify if or eliminate is the 1973 Trans-Tasman agreement that allows Australians and New Zealanders to move between, live and work in each other’s countries without restrictions.
Upon arrival in Australia, most New Zealanders are automatically granted a Special Category Visa (SCV), assuming they meet basic health and character requirements. This visa allows the holder to work and remain in Australia indefinitely. According to the most recent statistics, eight times as many New Zealanders lived in Australia than the other way around.
The United States has similar visa problems that create population pressures. While the multiple visa categories issued by the U.S. for student, work, diversity, entertainment and religious purposes do not automatically include indefinite residency, those who obtain them simply overstay the time limits imposed.
In terms of population control, that’s effectively the same as a formal understanding that permanent residency comes with every visa issued.