Stephen Lunn, Australian (Sydney), April 20, 2010
GRASSROOTS concern about Australia’s burgeoning population is being ignored by the “hopelessly conflicted” major parties and needs a fresh voice in Canberra, says political hopeful William Bourke.
Mr Bourke, a Sydney small businessman and founder of the newly established Stable Population Party of Australia, plans to field candidates in all states at the next federal poll, running on a platform of restricting the nation’s population to 23 million.
Mr Bourke says population growth might be a single issue, but it cuts across national policy agendas from health, housing and education to water, climate change–and particularly immigration.
He denies the fledgling party, formed in February, will be a honeypot for rednecks and racists, saying Australians are “capable of a mature and rational debate on the issue”.
Nevertheless, he says massive cuts are needed to Australia’s current immigration intake, including from the skilled migration program, family reunions, the high volume of New Zealanders allowed in, and overseas students.
Net overseas migration, the difference between those entering Australia with plans to stay for more than a year and those leaving with the same intention, was 297,000 in the year to September last year.
Mr Bourke, who says he has never been a member of a political party, thinks that figure should be reduced to zero.
“We need a balanced migration program, with immigration set at between 50,000 to 80,000 a year, matching the emigration that happens each year,” he told The Australian.
“The major parties are hopelessly conflicted between the will of the people and the will of their big business donors, and both sides are just as bad.
“They keep using this measurement of higher gross domestic product to indicate our wellbeing, but of course it’s going to grow if you have a bigger population. The measure they should be using is GDP per capita, and that has fallen for the past five quarters in a row.”