Do you think Australia has enough people?
That was the question posed by the Australian National University (ANU) in a poll conducted in late 2018, the results of which have recently been published.
The ANUPoll, Big Australia, small Australia, diverse Australia: Australia’s views on population surveyed 2167 Australians in late 2018 and it found that more than two thirds of Australians do not think Australia needs more people.
When asked “The Australian population is now a little over 25 million … do you think Australia needs more people?” 30.4 per cent of the respondents answered ‘yes’ – a decline of about 15 per cent since 2010.
However, the reasons most commonly given for not increasing Australia’s population were not ones associated with racism or xenophobia, as one might assume. Instead, cited as catalysts for knocking back migrants were: cities being overcrowded, the high cost of housing, and the need to support the training of Australian residents rather than importing skilled people from overseas.
“Nearly nine out of 10 people nominated the cost of housing being too high as a reason for not increasing Australia’s population, while 84 per cent of people said that cities are too crowded and there is too much traffic,” said lead researcher Associate Professor Nicholas Biddle.
“People also expressed concerns about the impact of population growth on the environment.”
In fact, reasons associated with possible xenophobia or racism received the lowest agreement.
“Indeed, there were more people who said that “Having more people means more cultural diversity” was a reason for increasing Australia’s population than those who listed too much cultural diversity as a reason against population growth,” said Prof. Biddle.
“The policy and social context will always influence Australians’ views on population growth. Most people are now supportive of cultural diversity as a by-product of population growth. On the other hand, geopolitics, defence and population pressures overseas are less likely to factor into someone’s decision than they might have in the past.
“Australians are more likely to support population growth if it increases our skills base, mitigates the impacts of an ageing population and increases our economic prosperity.
“But they do not want population growth to cause crowding, affordability or job security issues, nor at the expense of our natural environment.”
People with higher levels of education and foreign-born residents were more likely to support a bigger population, as were Greens voters. Coalition voters showed the lowest support and Labor voters were in between.
Do you think Australia has enough people? Why?