Australia’s population has officially hit 24 million, having grown by one million in just two years, nine months and two days.
According to Bob Carr, former NSW premier and Australian Foreign Minister, we have arrived at “breakneck population growth”.
At a press conference in Sydney yesterday Mr Carr, who has expressed concerns about population growth for many years, likened the exponential growth rate in Australia to that of a developing nation, and says it is threatening the Australian way of life.
“We’ve got a third-world style population growth rate,” he said. “I think the Australian people, if asked, would want immigration slowed.”
Data from the Bureau of Statistics (ABS) says that one Australian is born every one minute and 44 seconds, one Australian dies every three minutes and 24 seconds and one new migrant arrives in Australia every two minutes and 39 seconds.
According to Mr Carr, Australia has the highest rate of population growth of any developed country, rendering ineffective any government policies aimed at improving the nation’s infrastructure and making housing more affordable. He suggested that Australia consider halving its immigration intake to protect the Australian standard of living.
“We can go the way of other cities so that the basic unit of housing is a unit in a high-rise tower, but I would rather think a lot of Australians would believe we’ve lost something of ourselves.”
Australia’s population has doubled from 12 million in 1968 to 24 million in 2016.
Demographer in the private sector, Mark McCrindle, said that, “It’s no real surprise that infrastructure is playing catch-up because the population has overshot the forecasts on which the planning was based.”
Sydney and Melbourne are said to be taking the brunt of the overpopulation crisis. Projections for Sydney suggest that it will hit a populace of five million this year. By the mid-2050s however, Melbourne is set to become Australia’s most populated city.
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Australia is a migrant nation – and proud to be.
The Australian way of life (whatever that may mean) isn’t a fixed concept. For me, ‘to be Australian’ means belonging to a largely-undefined and culturally-varied community. Our nation has been forged and transformed by many ethnic and cultural groups. In almost every major city you’ll find areas that markedly belong to a particular community with migrant roots; China Town, Little Italy, the Greek precinct. When these groups arrived, they brought some of their customs with them. Eventually, these customs became assimilated into Australian culture. How natural a part of our (Aussie) lives is it to share a meal at a Chinese restaurant with friends, attend the Spanish street festival held in our city or head to a yoga class on the weekend?
Population growth rates are increasing faster than governments are able to develop infrastructure and public resources. We’ve known this was the case for some time. And as future growth projections continue and environmental concerns increase, the global fear that the world is going to run out of food, water and space is heightening.
But is curbing migration really the key to slowing Australia’s population growth? It would probably help. However, if we’re serious about ensuring that the nation can provide for all Australians, now and long-term, then more drastic measures are needed.
Many factors have contributed to overpopulation around the world. Due to advances in medicine and improved living standards, we are having more healthy babies than ever before. What’s more, those babies are living longer. According to the ABS, since the turn of the century, average life expectancy has increased from 76.6 for men and 82 years for women, to 80.3 and 84.4 years respectively. We find groups migrating, looking for homes in places other than those of their birth. Migration, put simply, is a by-product of either desire (choosing to live elsewhere) or necessity (seeking asylum).
The current global population sits at 7.3 billion. According to United Nations projections, Earth will be home to 9.7 billion people by 2050.
There are currently 24 million people in Australia. We’re stuck with that number now. We can curb migration, sure. But those people still need to live somewhere. Overpopulation isn’t an Australian problem, it’s a global problem. As far as I can see (and as bleak as this may sound) there’s only one way we’re really going to curb growth: slow the rate at which we continue to bring people into the world. It’s as complex and simple as that.
Does overpopulation in the world concern you? What do you think Australia (and the world) should do about the issue? Is curbing migration the key?