Population Growth Target for Australia:

Aim for a population growth rate of 0% at least until we have achieved a sustainable society in terms of energy, food, water, waste & reduced the rate of species extinction.

Policy Changes:

Stop importing workers

The current migration programme has an annual cap of 190,000, with 128,550 of those places given to workers coming into Australia.

Bringing in workers from overseas, when we do not have record low unemployment levels, is a quick fix for employers who may not be prepared to invest in the training necessary to upskill Australians and also allows for downward pressure on wages. 

If we stop importing workers while maintaining the existing family visas (partner and parent) that already brings us down to an immigration level of approximately 60,000, instead of 200,000.

Why aim for a population growth rate of zero?

 As stated on the home page here, two of the values of TTP are responsibility and a long-term view.

We are currently the dominant species on Earth and have the ability and history of prioritizing our own species survival over the survival of all other species. The usual background rate of species extinction is estimated to be about one to five species per year. The current estimated rate of species extinction due to human activity is 1,000 to 10,000 times the background rate, with dozens of species going extinct each day (1).  If humans are going to still be around in 100,000 years from now, it would be more responsible of us to have learned how to live harmoniously within our place in the ecosystem for that 100,000 years, instead of wiping out many thousands of species each year. 

We are currently living beyond our means in terms of the amount of energy required to maintain our lifestyle each day. 

Australian energy consumption by fuel type

Source: Australian Energy Update 2016. Licensed from the Commonwealth of Australia under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia Licence. The Commonwealth of Australia does not necessarily endorse the content of this publication.

As can be seen from the table above, less than 6% of Australia’s energy consumption was from renewable sources.

In 2006-07 Australia generated about 43.8 million tonnes of waste, up from 22.7 million tonnes per year in 1996-07. Roughly one-third of the waste generated was from households, one third from the commercial and industrial sector and just over a third from the construction and demolition sector (2).

Given our current behavior above, just in terms of our impact on other species, our energy use, and waste production, it is irresponsible of us as a society to continue increasing our population without regard for the future welfare of our own species and the millions of other species that live with us on Earth.

Reality:

Earth‘s human population is roughly 7,570,614,400 (7.57 Billion). Australia’s population is 24,694,172 as of 29 September 2017 (24.7 million). Therefore, 0.326% of the Earth’s human population live in Australia ((23.5 x 100) divided by 7200).

Replacement level fertility is “the number of babies a female would need to have over her productive life to replace both herself and her partner. Given the current mortality rates for women aged up to 49 years in Australia, replacement fertility is estimated to be 2.1 babies per woman.

The total fertility rate (TFR) in Australia was about 1.8 in 2015. The TFR is a measure of the total births per woman.

Total Fertility rate 1935 to 2015

Net overseas migration (NOM) is, “the net gain or loss of population through immigration to Australia and emigration from Australia. It is based on an international traveller’s duration of stay being in or out of Australia for 12 months or more.” According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, in 2015-16 NOM was 182,165 persons which were 0.76% of Australia’s population at December 2015.

However, according to Aidan Morrison, who has taken a closer look at Australia’s migration rate as measured by the ABS, a more accurate way of looking at Australia’s population and net migration rate is to calculate the “Physically Present Population” (PPP). One of the reasons for this can be seen in the ABS definition of NOM above. If someone moves to Australia to live and then returns to their country of birth each year for Christmas to see their family, they will not be counted by the ABS as having moved to Australia, because they haven’t been here continuously for twelve months. And alternatively, if an Australian move’s to another country and returns each year to visit family, the ABS will never count them as having left the country because they have not left for a continuous twelve-month period.

Physically Present Population

Graph above from Quixotic Quant.

As can be in the graph above, Australia’s population is increasing due to both a natural increase from births and from net positive overseas migration.

Australian Population Growth Rate

Population Growth Rate

Graph above from Quixotic Quant.

From the graph above it can be seen Australia’s population growth rate has been somewhere between 1% and 2% from 2010 until 2016, depending on whether the definition of an estimated resident population or physically present population is used.

World Population and Growth Rates

Earth’s human population at 29 September 2017 was approximately 7,570,627,900.

World population

Graph above and below from here. 

World population yearly growth rate:

World population yearly growth rate

Further questions to look at before making specific proposals to help reduce our population growth rate:

  1. How is it that even though our replacement fertility level has mainly been below 2 from 1980 and thus below the replacement level of 2.1, our population has still been growing by roughly 175,000 per year since 1980 from natural increase alone?
  2. What is the breakdown by visa type for our net migration into Australia?