In a previous post I discussed my support for population stabilization in Australia and included some stuff from my submission (and others’) to the Productivity Commission’s public inquiry into Migrant Intake into Australia. Well, the Commission issued a Draft Report in November 2015 and invited further public comment. The Draft Report clearly acknowledges that “Australia’s immigration policy is inextricably linked to population policy” (p. 117) — which may seem like a promising start. However the Commission flatly rejects the setting of population targets or the goal of population stabilization, and instead opts for “sustainable population growth”. It is in effect a recommendation for perpetual, exponential population growth.
I have submitted these comments (PDF) on the Draft Report, which you may like to read. I have attempted to provide a systematic critique of some of the assumptions and findings of the report in relation to population policy issues, particularly its findings about public opinion, food security and peri-urban land use.
The full list of all submissions and comments to the inquiry is on this page. I particularly enjoyed the submission by Dr Jane O’Sullivan who applies her forensic blowtorch to the Draft Report’s claims about how to properly assess the costs and benefits of population growth.
Another submission by Eric Claus makes some very pithy and telling points — the following is just one example:
The Productivity commission writes that “a small number of inquiry participants did not agree with the notion of sustainable population growth.” This sentence is designed to lead the reader to believe that almost all of the submissions to the inquiry favoured high immigration. That is simply not true. An analysis of each submission reveals that 21 submissions were against high immigration / in favour of cutting immigration and 18 submissions were happy with the existing system of high immigration. There is no way any rational person would call the majority a small number unless they were intending to deceive the reader. There were 67 submissions in total. Even using 21 out of all 67 submissions, no fair assessment would call 31% a small number.
Mr Claus went to the trouble of doing a robust content analysis of all the submissions, and provides detailed data tables.
Other submissions which you may like to view are by Sheila Davis and the wonderfully named Urban Backlash Inc (Mary Drost OAM). A submission by Peter Schlesinger concludes with a clear statement of what is at stake:
Immigration to this country needs to be dramatically slowed for the benefit of most of the community. We will never be able to accommodate all those people who wish to come here. And if we try, or indeed just continue down the trajectory we’re currently on, we’ll soon end up with the same disastrous conditions as exist in most of the countries from which they came.
Peter Schlesinger adds a valid note of skepticism as to whether public inquiries will make any difference:
The call for public submissions is an exercise, as so many of these public inquiries are, at presenting to the media and the public, the correct process of due diligence in order to feign a semblance of democracy; but with predetermined outcomes, this is merely a costly facade.