Population: quality, not quantity (letter)by R. HughesNews Weekly
, January 31, 2004
I refer to your editorial on the population debate in the issue of November 29, 2003, and offer the following comments.
There seems little correlation between the size of a country's population and its living standards; mini-states like Singapore and Monaco have higher living standards than massively populated states like India and Indonesia.
Australia had one of the highest rates of population growth in the Western world last century, but in relative terms, our per capita national income fell.
Immigration will do very little to stop the "greying" of our population, as migrants have started to age before they enter the country.
A massive increase in immigration will have no more effect on slowing down the ageing of our population than will a tiny increase in the birthrate.
Immigration is not helping develop our remote and unpopulated regions, and in fact, lately the Northern Territory has attracted only one-tenth of one percent of our net overseas migration. With lower birthrates and increasing living standards, the areas where our more capable migrants could be recruited will, to some extent, have dried up as sources of migrants.
This will leave us with the option of lowering the intake or recruiting from the less successful populations and importing the sort of problems that make poor countries poor.
The debate should shift away from simply considering numbers and take into account quality. We should be pursuing policies that give us an intelligent and vigorous population that can handle the challenges of the 21st century.R. Hughes,