'Plus ca change...' -- Deja-viewing Australia's 'Future Dilemmas'

By Denis McCormack
Published in The Social Contract
Volume 13, Number 4 (Summer 2003)
Issue theme: "Gaylord Nelson and Earth Day: the Senator who helped turn many of us into environmentalists"

Being in the unique position of having an entire island continent under their sovereignty in an overcrowded world, Australians have long been quietly obsessed with national and global population statistics, reports, books, parliamentary inquiry proceedings, and predictions. This magnificently far-sighted obsession was formalized with great impact 110 years ago on publication of Charles Henry Pearson's National Life and Character, subtitled A Forecast (Macmillan, 1893). Its scope of demographic, historical and predictive analysis so masterfully presented soon won acclaim from the likes of Theodore Roosevelt and English Prime Minister Gladstone.(2)

The latest study to be appended to the lengthy list is "Future Dilemmas Options to 2050 for Australia's Population, Technology, Resources and Environment," principal authors Barney Foran and Franzi Poldy, Working Paper Series 02/01, Report to the Department of Immigration, Multiculturalism and Indigenous Affairs by CSIRO (the prestigious government-funded Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization), October 2002, ISBN 095808453X. It is available online at http //www.cse/csiro.au/futuredilemmas. It was commissioned by the wiliest and longest-serving ever immigration minister, Philip Ruddock, a few years ago, and launched by him on November 7, 2002. On November 2nd, the Sydney Morning Herald carried a preview feature by Michael Millett that ran on the same day in the SMH's Melbourne stable mate, The Age.

For local relevance, The Age substituted Melbourne and surrounding city names in the opening paragraphs for those in the original Sydney Morning Herald version. All else remains the same, apart from slight editing for length and differing titles for the article. In the SMH the headline was "Future shock scientists now say Australia can support 50 million people, but is that what we want and can we trust politicians to make the right choices?" The Age headlined it "In the year 2100, there may be close to 10 million people living in the megatropolis of Melbourne. How will we cope?"

A few weeks after the release of "Future Dilemmas," I spoke by phone separately to both Foran, with whom I've been speaking for a few years(3) and to Poldy, to get their reactions to the media coverage. Both agreed that with a few reservations aside, Millett's SMH article from The Age was the most balanced of the various articles published. I reproduce it here:

"Picture Melbourne in the year 2100. A sprawling mega-city of almost 10 million people, its suburban talons so huge they spread beyond the neighboring cities of Geelong, Bendigo and Ballarat.

"Aggressive immigration has pushed Australia's population beyond 50 million. With an even larger Sydney, the Greater Melbourne area is part of an urban agglomeration that stretches along the continent's east coast from Port Phillip Bay to far North Queensland.

"This human mass delivers economic clout. With its bigger domestic markets, Australia has been weaned off its chronic dependence on resource-draining commodity exports for economic survival.

"The east coast capitals are true international cities, transforming Australia into a powerhouse of global commerce. But size brings with it myriad problems. Domestic gas and oil supplies have been seriously depleted for decades, forcing drastic changes in transport and energy choices.

"The city groans under its immense and growing infrastructure burden. There is water, but private companies struggle to maintain quality and surety of supplies. There is a chronic shortage of specialized health services for the aged.

"And diets have changed. The sea has long ago given up its ability to provide Australians with protein. Far from being served on the "barbie," the humble prawn is now an extremely scarce imported item.

"Science Fiction? Not if you believe the figures cranked out by the CSIRO. Using what they claim are world-first research techniques and building on almost a decade of work, the CSIRO has produced a report that strives to make sense of Australia's demographic dilemma how many people can and should this nation carry?

"It is an ambitious and highly controversial undertaking. Rather than rely on conventional economic modeling, the CSIRO boffins have constructed an elaborate model of the economy -- everything from people to plants to water and air supplies, and the complex interactions that occur between them -- and used it to calculate what will happen over the next fifty to one hundred years if you feed in different population scenarios.

"The federal government has been eager to bankroll and supervise the research. If the project is able to provide a 20/20 view of the future across every facet of Australian life, then the findings will be extremely beneficial in shaping big policy decisions. Not least, how demography should be factored into planning for the still nascent century.

"But the government is well aware of the controversy factor; the timing, scope and nature of the project will inevitably draw flak. In fact, it already has, with a panel of outside experts brought in by Canberra to oversee the research expressing some deep reservations about the methodology and findings.

"The 'people debate' routinely flares and fades. Right now, it is quite active, with the government fiercely fending off suggestions it should embrace a formal population policy to guide policy decisions well into the future -- even to go as far as trying to establish, and then build policies around, an optimum population figure.

"Those looking for the 'yellow brick road,' as the external reference group described it, will be disappointed. There is no magic number, even in a report of over 330 pages.

"'Future Dilemmas,' which will be released by the government on Thursday, deliberately straddles the entire debate, choosing as one scenario the low immigration option favored by many environmentalists to moderate Australia's population growth, and within the next century, reverse it. At the other extreme are the big population numbers, favored by the business lobby. In the middle is the status quo option, with current policy settings delivering a net immigration intake of about 70,000 a year.

"Option one the low route of zero net immigration (those arriving matching those leaving) would see the Australian population reach 20 million by 2050,(4) then fall to 17 million by 2100.

"Option two the status quo, with a net immigration intake of 70,000, the average over the past decade will stabilize the population at 25 million by 2050.

"The high route of option three, with net immigration fixed at two-thirds of one percent of the total population each year (just below 130,000 now, but eventually rising to more than 300,000 a year) would result in the population jumping to 32 million by 2050 and the aforementioned 50 million by 2100.

"The report concludes, without a flicker of doubt, that all three are 'physically feasible' -- even the high immigration option, generally regarded by mainstream Australia as the delusional objective of a few corporate chiefs desperate to turn the country into a hyper consumer market.

"'Under all population scenarios, this study has confirmed that, barring unforeseen catastrophes, Australia has enough land, water and energy to provide food and a moderate lifestyle for all its citizens out until 2100,' the two main authors, Barney Foran and Franzi Poldy, state."

Some Factors Were Left Out

Scientists, being scientists, are not swayed by the emotional debate. Getting to 50 million would necessarily involve trade-offs. The downside might be too much for governments and society to risk.

But it can be done, and trying to slow down population growth or using the default option of a middle course will not save Australia from some confronting decisions. There is no escape. It is "future shocks" regardless.

Why? The CSIRO contests that the main flaw in the population debate is that it is too narrowly focused on the direct or primary influence of population. More people consume more energy and materials and therefore produce more waste and emissions.

But there are other population influences that can impact on the physical economy. Discretionary lifestyle choices, such as rising affluence and consumption can drain resources even as population declines.

The global economy, through international trade and international debt levels also has a big impact. A bigger domestic market, for example, could loosen Australia's dependence on resource-draining agricultural exports.

The CSIRO points out that Australia currently runs a water deficit on trade. That is, the "embodied lifestyle trapped in its exports is 400 gigaliters more than the water used in its imports." Does this make sense in a dry continent? The 4,000 gigaliters roughly represents the amount of water consumed by urban Australia now. "If relatively poor trade-offs are received for those products, then the nation receives a double loss as funds are sought to repair the integrity of its river systems," the report states.

Trade-offs and complications ripple through the entire economy. A low population will ease environmental strains. But after 2100 the population begins sliding dramatically and with a vastly aging workforce. There is the possibility that health care and pension systems may not cope.

The report further states that the medium scenario tries to strike a social and economic balance, stabilizing the population at 25 million after 2050. But this may induce policy lethargy as governments delay or avoid big decisions using "default settings." The report states, "It is sufficiently comfortable to avoid major decisions that might be forced by population decline in the low scenario, or rapid population growth in the high scenario."

Because the CSIRO machine tracks Australia's physical history, it is open to the possibility of technological innovation easing some of the policy dilemmas. The "aggressive implementation of technology" could ease the greenhouse and energy-use problems.

What Are the Trade-Offs?

"But even here there is a catch. Consumer sentiment, such as the desire for larger houses (the average house will peak at a startling 200 square meters around 2050) militates against the technological revolution. Advances are soaked up in the desire for material possessions.

"In the end, the report isolates six high level challenges or "dilemmas" that the CSIRO believes policymakers will have to confront.

"None make for comfortable reading. Are we willing, for example, to halve material consumption for all citizens to completely resolve the greenhouse gas problem? Do we accept that a bigger population will result in an even poorer balance of trade in physical goods, even if it eases the aging problem?

"Do we make the big jump in treating the cause of declining air and water quality rather than the symptoms? The other identified dilemmas link such seemingly disparate areas as population policy, aging of the workforce, trade, material flows, greenhouse gas emissions, natural resource depletion and environmental quality. Solving one of these problems is hard enough.

"The report's dark conclusion is that we are a long way from solving all of them -- or even accepting the need to do so. Certainly CSIRO's machine does not have the answers. Nor does it believe the politicians possess them.

"'Single dilemmas are mostly open to resolution within the current settings of technology and ideology,' the report states. 'However, the resolution of two, three or more dilemmas in parallel is difficult because to do so requires a sophisticated understanding of human behavioral dynamics. Such an understanding lies outside the capability of this analytical framework.' The kick is in the brackets 'It's also outside the comprehension of contemporary policy development.'"

Back to the Files

There was something familiar about the dystopian "Science Fiction?" of the article's opening which sent me to my file-pile. Eventually I disinterred an earlier Millett Sydney Morning Herald article published on the eve of a big government immigration conference, November 10, 1990, headlined "Sydney 2021 Standing Room Only," sub-headed "Our population growth fueled by large scale immigration is the highest in the West, yet the consequences for the way we live in the future have barely been considered." As instructive as Millett's above article on "Future Dilemmas" is, he could have again usefully pointed out, as he did in his 1990 article excerpted below, that the propensity for escalation of "racial tensions" due to increased immigration deserves serious consideration.

"Sydney in 2021. The harbor city is a sprawling metropolis of nearly 5 million ... Still shoehorned into a living area largely defined by existing natural boundaries ... Dwindling supplies of vacant land ... New families have little choice; they have to live in high-rise blocks in distant suburbs ... the displaced ethnic poor compete with their newly arrived cousins from overseas for jobs and houses, putting further pressure on transport, water, welfare and other services. Racial tensions have increased dramatically as Sydney with over 40 percent of its population overseas-born, now rivals New York in terms of its ethnic composition ... Science fiction? Not according to a small core of demographers, scientists and other academics, campaigning to reverse Australia's commitment to a high population/high immigration strategy ... Their research suggests that over-crowding, racial tension, inadequate services, limited housing and soaring food prices will be the legacy Australia, and particularly Sydney, inherits from the population boom of the 1980s and (perhaps) the 1990s ... The rigid adherence of the major political parties to bipartisanship on immigration numbers has stifled debate on the broader population issue ... The CSIRO did its best in a landmark 1975 report which concluded that at existing technology levels the limits on food and water supplies, some 60 million people could be supported without overloading the system; however, the study did caution that Australia is a large food production exporter, and with exports included in the equation the supported population plunged to 22 million ... projections show that to achieve and maintain a population of 25 million at existing birth rate levels the immigration rate would have to be lopped almost immediately to 70,000 ...The size of the immigration flow into Sydney has raised new doubts about the ability of the city's crumbling infrastructure to cope. The New South Wales Opposition Leader, Mr. Carr(5), has lined up with the low-growth lobby in complaining that the existing immigration program is extending Sydney's suburban sprawl and putting an unbearable strain on hospital, transport, water and other services."

Millett's writings help outline a strategy followed by successive governments of either persuasion when immigration becomes a political problem. A simplified analysis of the broader strategy might go something like this:

1. Commission a new round of environmental/ economic research, while omitting from the terms of reference any opportunity to examine or ventilate the underlying ethnic-racial/displacement-survival/ pace of socio-cultural change anxieties being expressed by the host society, which more often than not form the immediate basis of the immigration political problem in the first place.

2. Instruct the consulting agency to predict long-term futures for three per annum intake scenarios Low option -- zero net, a manageable figure within historical experience. Medium option -- also comfortably known as the status quo, a remarkably flexible concept. High option -- high, ridiculously high, at least two or three times higher than the highest intake ever, one guaranteed to cause panic, chaos, and loss of office.

3. Rely on big business and big media, to unfairly dismiss the low option.

4. Rely on the combination of public disbelief, disquiet across the parliamentary back benches of both major parties, and renewed determination of the hardheads in the scientific community to kill the lunatic high opinion.

5. Having held yet another inquiry, and having refereed the bout between the high and low options as they knocked each other out of the ring, the government of the day continues business as usual with the ever flexible status quo option, having anesthetized the issue once again until eventually losing office, or needing to repeat the strategy -- whichever comes first.

So how transparent and flexible is the "status quo?" It has drifted up to the highest per annum intake for eleven years, and for the first time is locked in at that for the next few years by Minister Ruddock in an effort to minimize the annual fuss over program numbers. And what ethnic/racial groups make up the numbers?

To help shine some light on these issues, in mid-October I had a chat with Shaun Carney, an associate editor at The Age. He examined my assembled array of key documents and clippings (some most convincingly from his own paper) which proved to his satisfaction that there is some artful dissembling going on concerning both the tabulation of numbers, and the ethnic/racial background of people actually getting into Australia permanently, regardless of the stated immigration program numbers. After doing his own checking, and as luck would have it, Carney's exposé was published six pages after Millett's front page analysis of "Future Dilemmas," (Insight Section, The Age, November 2, 2002) with a pointer to it on the front page above Millett's piece which read, "Shaun Carney The truth about Howard's immigration policy." The article itself inside on page 7 was headed "Closer to Asia than you think If you forget the rhetoric and study immigration numbers, you may be in for a surprise." After some opening discussion of Prime Minister Howard's heir apparent -- the ominously more Asia-inclined treasurer, Peter Costello - Carney got down to it:

"Howard, and a number of other ministers (but not Costello), made considerable play in the government's first two terms of office of the Coalition's outright rejection of what they presented as the Keating doctrine that Australia needed gradually to consider itself as part of Asia.

"The message from the Howard government in its early days was that Australia was not part of Asia and never would be. To a considerable degree, it was part of a dog-whistle campaign by the Coalition.

"At a time when rural voters and elements of blue-collar Australia were rallying around Pauline Hanson's simplified nostrums for dealing with what she portrayed as the Asianization of the nation (and the featherbedding of Aborigines), Howard was, with some fanfare, cutting back immigration numbers.(6)

"This gave great comfort to those who have been arguing for years against an expanded program of immigration, especially one that accepted substantial numbers of non-whites the members of the small but often effective political party  Australians Against Further Immigration for instance.

"Howard's subsequent handling of the Tampa crisis and the associated issue of mandatory detention, the question of border protection generally, merely added to the impression(7) that the government was reshaping Australia and its place in the world, forming a more isolationist stance within the region and subtly winding back the process of Asianization.

"The real situation is altogether different. While it is true that the formal make-up of the migrant intake -- the categories under which immigrants arrive here -- has changed under this government, the proportion of settler arrivals who are Asian-born remains constant at around 33 percent. Asians have accounted for this proportion of the intake since the mid-1970s; last year they accounted for 40 percent.

"Under Philip Ruddock's stewardship of the immigration portfolio, family reunions have been reduced and the intake of skilled migrants has increased correspondingly. But the drop in annual migrant numbers really only lasted for the government's first two years and they have since returned to the levels of the Keating years.

"In Keating's last year, 1995-96, settler arrivals were 99,139. In the present financial year, the Howard government is planning to accept 100,000-110,000 migrants. New Zealanders(8) and people accepted under the humanitarian program will further top up that number.(9)

"If students and other temporary residents are included, the numbers balloon even further. In the latter half of the 1990s, 200,000 more temporary residents arrived than left. In other words, large numbers of people with temporary resident visas are finding a way to get around the formal immigration program.

"What all this suggests is that while the government has been absorbing the One Nation constituency, taking some of Labor's blue-collar vote, and simultaneously driving a wedge into the ALP by running hard on the need to keep out the riff-raff, it has been running an expanded immigration program in which half the new settlers are from Asia -- especially Indonesia -- the Middle East or Africa.

"That is, a very successful domestic political agenda has not fully accorded with policy reality.

"Paradoxically, the upshot should be that the type of enhanced engagement with the region extolled by Costello should be easier to achieve. Once our Asian neighbors look past the rhetoric and study the numbers they will see little difference between this government and the one which preceded it."

... plus ça la même chose.(1)


1. Plus ça change, plus ça la même chose -- the more things change, the more they stay the same. Long-term readers of The Social Contract might recall "The Camp of the Saints Revisited" edition (Vol. V, No. 2, Winter 1994-95) which included a review of "Australia's Population Carrying Capacity One Nation Two Ecologies," published by Australian Government Publishing Service, 1994. "Future Dilemmas" updates and extends the genre.

2. The following condensed commentary on Pearson and his book is from John Tregenza's biography, Professor of Democracy The Life of Charles Henry Pearson, 1830-1894, Oxford Don and Australian Radical (Melbourne University Press, 1968). Pearson having been a youthful professor of history at King's College London, a writer for The Spectator, traveled widely and settled in Melbourne at 40 years of age. He lectured at Melbourne University, wrote for the Melbourne Age, and became through the 1870s-80s a leading figure in the Victorian Colonial Parliament in Melbourne. His proposals for political and educational reforms, together with his lasting influence on some of the key figures who brought about Australian federation and independence from Britain in 1901 made a significant contribution to the shaping of modern Australian society. His last and greatest book National Life and Character is a remarkable forecast of the end of European domination of Asia and North Africa, future global demographics, and the coming of the centralized welfare state. It attracted attention throughout the world especially in America where it was reviewed at length by Theodore Roosevelt in the Sewanee Review, May 1894. Roosevelt wrote to Pearson May 11, 1894, "All our men here in Washington who read that kind of thing at all were greatly interested ... In fact, I don't suppose any book recently, unless it is Mahan's Influence of Sea Power, has excited anything like as much interest or has caused so many men to feel that they had to revise their mental estimates of the facts ..." In London, Gladstone was full of Pearson's book, telling dinner guests at Downing Street that it should be read by everyone concerned or interested in public affairs. It was quoted by Australia's first prime minister, Edmund Barton, when he spoke in favor of the Immigration Restriction Bill 1901, the first significant bill passed into law by the first Commonwealth Parliament. Pearson did not regard Australia as doomed to Asian occupation. He expected a steady expansion of Chinese influence, but the policy he recommended for Australia was that she should leave Asia to the Asians, keep herself (including her tropical north) European and be prepared to defend herself.

3. For years at CSIRO, Foran has been a consistent contributor promoting the population/immigration precautionary principal, in sync with both the physical science and sentiment of Australia and Australians. He contributed to a 144-page book titled "Population 2040: Australia's Choice -- Proceedings of the Symposium of the 1994 Annual General Meeting of the Australian Academy of Science," which also included that organization's formal submission to "Australia's Population Carrying Capacity" cited in note (1) above -- the precursor inquiry to "Future Dilemmas." With net immigration of 50,000 per annum, their recommended population figure was 23 million by 2040 (page 140). The last sentence on the last page reads, "The population goal recommended by this symposium for Australia -- for a stationary population by the year 2040 -- would bring Australia into close accord with the global targets identified by major world bodies." Foran was presenting at the Australian and New Zealand Association for the Advancement of Science and was reported in New Scientist, October 12, 1996, "Long dry spells outlook gloomy" warning stridently about population increase and environmental decline in Australia, "By the time we get to 40 million people in 2050, the standard of living will not win you many elections." Australia is currently enduring the worse drought in a century, with consequent widespread bushfire devastation. We are importing grain to feed stock while the cattle industry predicts that the national herd numbers could take a decade to recover. Dry land salinity and soil acidity are reaching alarming proportions. Major cities including Melbourne, not to mention scores of rural and provincial centers are contemplating permanent water restrictions. Our biggest river system, the Murray-Darling, producer of 40 percent of Australia's agriculture, now only with dredging reaches the sea. And all this at a time when Australia's second richest individual, billionaire Jewish immigrant Richard Pratt -- business man, generous arts patron and political donor -- is spending time, energy, and money funding population think tanks and conferences, lobbying to more than quadruple immigration in order for the population to reach his preferred target of 50 million by 2050. Pratt says "...massive population movements are already changing many traditional ideas of foreign policy and international economics. They are challenging the very notion of Australian sovereignty. For Australia to pretend that we can continue our present low level of immigration intake as if we were alone on the planet is, at best, naïve ... Whatever may be the case now, the region and the world will not ignore us indefinitely. It makes much more sense for us to plan for the coming population upheavals ... As an immigrant who is the son of an immigrant, I believe ... The same way as the United States ... Increased demand ... Lift our productivity ... Expand domestic markets ... Injection of skills, entrepreneurial talent ... New ideas ... Positive impact ... Governments must lead ... Essential role of business, unions, media ... A real choice between a dynamic growing Australia open to the world, and a more backward looking society," et cetera, ad nauseam, ad infinitum, from "Why a bigger Australia will be better" by Richard Pratt, The Age, January 12, 1996.

Since then, Pratt has afforded himself many opportunities to repeat his message. In keeping with past practice however, his "Future Dilemmas" terms of reference excluded consideration of Pratt's inevitable external threat "coming population upheavals" scenario and his plan to double "the high route of option three." Where all this would leave the future ethnic interests of a quickly diminishing traditional Australian Anglo-European majority remains unmentionable. At an Australian Population Association conference in Melbourne, November 2000, which Minister Ruddock addressed, I showed to Foran Kevin MacDonald's article in Population and Environment, Vol. 19, No. 4, March 1998, "Jewish Involvement in Shaping American Immigration Policy 1881-1965 A Historical Review," which later became a chapter in MacDonald's "The Culture of Critique." Little did either of us know that the next time we would see each other would be at a Pratt-sponsored "Population Summit" in Melbourne, February 2002.

4. Millett's wording is misleading here. Under zero net immigration from tomorrow, the population would continue rising to 22-23 million by the early 2030s, then decline to 20 million by 2050 if present below replacement fertility is assumed up until then. When I checked the Australian Bureau of Statistics; Population Clock (www.abs.gov.au Jan 2003 21 10 30 Canberra Time) it showed Australia's population at 19,812,110 with a net gain of one person every 2 minutes 44 seconds. By my calculations this means Australia's population will reach 20 million on January 12, 2004 (not in 2050 as Millett's wording suggests), if it hasn't passed it already due to the undercounting factors cited in Carney's Age article herein. The United Nations Population Fund's credit card-sized Population Clock calculator, (the production of which was inspired by the world's population reaching 5 billion in 1987) had programmed into it the then best available country-by-country demographic projections. It currently reads out Australia's present population as growing by one person every 2 minutes 58 seconds, with a total approximately 700,000 less than the ABS Population Clock says it actually is!

5. Since eventually winning office in New South Wales in 1995 for Labor, Premier Bob Carr has continued to argue frankly against big business and bleeding hearts regarding high immigration and ethnic crime. He supported Prime Minister Howard on the Tampa asylum seeker issue and has been strong on security following the September 11 disasters. Carr's response to "Future Dilemmas" was to call for a one-third cut to immigration because "...the federal government continues to force-feed an increased annual migrant intake..." He was a journalist before politics and has recently written a book in which he reiterates his concerns about population increase and immigration. At a World Economic Forum meeting, when Darvos came to Melbourne in September 2000, there were a few thousand protestors demonstrating with some of their number attempting with some success to block the entrance of delegates and dignitaries. Carr spoke at the meeting and "...challenged protestors outside the forum to blockade the embassies of countries failing to curb population growth if they were serious about saving the global environment ... population growth, not globalized trade, caused the most environmental degradation. While acknowledging that there was excessive consumption in developed countries, he said 90 percent of the doubling of world population since 1960 had occurred in developing countries." (The Age, September 14, 2000 "Carr says depopulate or perish " by Claire Miller.)

6. Carney is not quite accurate here. Howard had already cut immigration by 16,000, and foreshadowed cutting it again six months before the Hanson episode. See The Social Contract, Vol. VII, No. 2, Winter 1996-97, "The Prime Minister and Pauline."

7. And what a cleverly crafted impression it is! While Minister Ruddock declined the invitation to speak at Pratt's talk fest in February 2002 (see note 3 above), he did host one of his own a few months later in May, titled "Migration Benefiting Australia." In his opening speech he exposed an important motivation behind the Howard government's 2001 election-winning strategy of being tough on border protection "Make no mistake, public support for immigration will evaporate if Australians see back-door migration undermining the integrity of our programs..."

8. Although in recent years New Zealand has probably had the world's highest per capita immigration intakes, it has experienced a net loss of population due to the unlimited access to Australia that New Zealanders have under a long-standing trans-Tasman agreement. That agreement, however, was never intended to facilitate the re-migration to Australia of tens of thousands of New Zealand's recent Asian immigrants, South Pacific immigrants and sundry refugees. They are received and accounted for in Australia as extra to rather than as part of Australia's immigration program. Who are they? "...in Christchurch refugees are reported to be leaving in droves. About half of Christchurch's Somali community, which numbered more than 500 in 2000, have crossed the Tasman ... some of the 200 or so who were left intended to follow, and even recent Afghan refugees who had yet to get their New Zealand citizenship have signaled that they too will move to Australia ... one in three New Zealanders immigrating to Australia was not born here ... the Cambodian community once about 1200, now numbered fewer than 500 after many refugees and their families left for Australia..." (From the Ashburton Guardian [New Zealand], August 2, 2002, titled "Concerns raised New Zealand is backdoor entry to Australia for refugees" by Annie Studholme.) Never has this analysis of New Zealand refugees re-migrating been published in Australia.

9. Australia's humanitarian program for refugee settlement is 12,000 per annum.

About the author

Denis McCormack is Australian correspondent for The Social Contract. We asked him to provide background on the most recent carrying capacity research.

Copyright 2007 The Social Contract Press, 445 E Mitchell Street, Petoskey, MI 49770; ISSN 1055-145X
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