Pandora: Why our economy needs 50 million people

Pandora: Why our economy needs 50 million people

I am not a fan of Kevin Rudd, but he once said something I vehemently agree with: “I’m in favour of a big Australia”. His big Australia is too small for me: 50 million is the minimum. Here’s why:

Making a market – Australia pays a high price for its technology, its groceries and is losing its manufacturing sector. Why? We don’t have a big enough market to support competition. If we had 50 million people, we would have more than just two dominant supermarket, and one category killer like Bunnings. We would have enough people to justify a car industry which in turn sustains a flourishing manufacturing sector.

Sure, it would be better to have 100 million people accommodated in our 7.7 million square kilometres – less than half of the 242 million odd who are crammed into Indonesia’s 1.9 million square kms – but 50 million would set us on our way.

The world is not facing a population crisis, it is facing a design crisis. We need to design a world that can accommodate its population and use its resources at a sustainable rate. Design – of electric cars, solar energy, green buildings, fast trains, effective public transport, water conservation – is the way out of our problems. Population is whatever it is … design is the way of ensuring we have a peaceful population.

Lack of water — an issue frequently raised in objection to population growth — is simply not defensible as an argument. We still flush drinking water down the toilet. Proper conservation of water is the answer to our water issues, and we already have the means to solve it through re-use and recycling.

The baby boomer bomb – demographically speaking, Gen Xs, Gen Ys and little Gen Is will not be able to afford to pay for a population that is aging so fast. We need to import younger people so they can help pay the taxes to keep our elders in the splendour to which they are accustomed, and to take the burden off future generations.

Australia is the second least populated place on the planet, after Mongolia. We have about 2,500 kilometres of coastline between Adelaide and Brisbane offering a vast array of climates and environments. There’s something for everyone.

Of course, we wouldn’t want to cover all that coastline with housing, so we would design medium-density cities with populations between 500,000 and, say 4 million, all along various spots on the coast. These would provide the jobs and education that would allow Australians the chance to realise their dream of living and working on the coast, and keep the farmers nearby in business too – yes, there is even something for the farmers in this!!

Just a hop, step and a jump away from our compact towns and cities, would be parks for everyone to enjoy and we would still have rest of our enormous continent to explore when we want to stand alone in the wilderness.

There are parts of the world where there is simply not enough to go round – not enough land, food or water. We have resources in abundance. If you are not moved, as I am, by the obscenity of our greed, consider the idea that if we do not share our resources and our land, then others will demand them. And if others demand them, we will need a bigger population to fend them off.


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