Andrew McNamara, Minister for Sustainability, Climate Change and Innovation, gave an impressive, lucid speech to the Brisbane Institute on the need for sustainable planning within Australia.
McNamara quoted the wise words of Bob Carr in 1997:
“I think people are ready to grasp the argument that the unsustainable growth in population numbers is degrading our planet and that Australia must begin to think of itself as a country with a population problem. Let’s throw away for all time the notion that Australia is an empty space just waiting to be filled up. Our rivers, our soils, our vegetation won’t allow that to happen without an enormous cost to those who come after us.”
Showing he missed Carr’s central point, McNamara went on to say:
The key to achieving a sustainable Australian population in the 21st century is population distribution – adopting policies which encourage and support population growth in areas where it can be supported sustainably, and discouraging it in those places where it can’t.
We hope the Federal Government notes well the plight of our region, with plans by the old Maroochy Shire Council to increase its population by 63% by the year 2020, and acts to prevent such lunacy. Stopping the ill-conceived and environmentally devastating Traveston Dam would be a significant indication of the Government’s good intentions also. Population growth in the already environmentally stressed-to-the limit south east corner of Queensland must be discouraged.
An economic strategy based on reducing population generally across Australia and encouraging same must be prepared – ‘smarter and smaller’ needs to become our catchcry. Increased education and parity of wages for women, removal of baby bonuses, encouraging older people back into the workforce, adequate funds for academic research untied to needs of existing industry in order to create new industries down the track, support for innovative brain-based, non-polluting industries, and more apprenticeships would all help.
The Federal Government might also examine the success of the Noosa strategic plan with its population cap and international recognition by UNESCO with a view to using it as a model for communities across Australia.