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Today Tonight -

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(generated from captions) Good evening.

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and how many is too many? First, the question of immigration each year. We take nearly 300,000 new arrivals it's way more than other nations. As a percentage, The rising population puts pressure on our roads and infrastructure and pushes up house prices and it's all happened so quickly. Bryan Seymour looks at how we got here if we keep growing at this rate. and where we are headed is expanding faster Australia's population than any other country in Asia and at double the world average. Australia's population Over the past nine years has grown by about 3 million. by up to 400,000 people. Each year our population grows Nearly three-quarters are migrants. runaway population growth. Australia is experiencing

has a plan to fix it. This Rudd Government MP dramatically slash immigration. Top priority is to plunged by 22%. Last year housing affordability never own their own home. Many Australians will likely bad government planning Many have blamed for this housing shortage but really, 10 or 15 years ago,

no-one could have predicted that we would suddenly throw open our doors to the record numbers of new arrivals take a look. In 1995, our planned migration intake was 83,000. During the resources boom, the Howard Government ramped up immigration to record levels. We'll have almost 300,000 new arrivals this year. Our immigration rate of 2.1% last year was double that of the United States and New Zealand and seven times higher than the United Kingdom. will be in our major cities And most of that growth

South-east Queensland, Sydney, and so, particularly in Melbourne and Perth, I think the residents in these areas more of the same, only worse. can look forward to Doctor Bob Birrell for Population and Urban Research from Monash University's Centre is sending out a mixed message. says Kevin Rudd is trying to have it both ways. I believe the Rudd Government to improve their quality of life It's telling people it wants and reduce greenhouse gas emissions and protect the environment economic growth in Australia but its main priority is to maximise as a key factor in this goal. and it sees population growth he supports a big Australia So far, Kevin Rudd has indicated but that support may be wavering due to the cost of our quickly expanding numbers. They have no plan as to how to deal with these huge numbers. Households in New South Wales are already paying up to $300 a year more than other States for electricity. Australia-wide by 2020, house prices will double, along with costs for water, food and transport - but our wages won't. If you take seriously the concerns about quality of life and environment then you wouldn't be running a migration program this government is running. on the scale that the idea of cutting skilled workers, Yet business groups have slammed

many Australians their jobs. claiming it will cost It's an absolute certainty. Chief executive of Employers and Industries, of the Australian Federation more skilled immigrants. Gary Brack says we need to say, "Let's train them all here." It's far too simplistic, I'm afraid, Of course we should be doing that but you can only do that

allows you to do it. at the pace at which the economy the Federal Government - and apparently Industry leaders -

or we're dying. believe either we're growing The truth is there is no link growth and economic prosperity. between population I think the industry position is rubbish. Both accuse our business leaders of putting their bottom line before our welfare. After all, more people coming here equals more people to buy things and more competition for jobs, which keeps wages low. The problem is that they get the benefits of the expansion but the rest of us have to pay the costs of accommodating the additional people. If you put artificial brakes on the economy, then it's not a simple question to say, and we'll go no further," "We'll cap it at this figure very easily. because you can't pick those winners A poll of 1,000 Australians believe we are growing too fast this week found 70% of us to manage with the projections. and that we won't be able at least, by 2050 We're tracking for 36 million, puts on the Australian way of life, and I think that the pressure that on traffic congestion, on housing affordability, on our water supplies, on our endangered species, that pressure is unsustainable. doesn't slow down , If our population growth we'll hit 50 million. it's expected by 2050 Thomson's 14-point plan involves to the level we had in 1995, cutting immigration treating New Zealand like any other country and dropping the baby bonus. This, he says, will give Australia in 2050 a population of 26 million. That's the kind of increase which I believe is sustainable and would enable us to better protect our Australian way of life. Provided we're prepared to reduce our net overseas migration to 70,000 per annum. Dr Birrell and Kelvin Thomson are at pains to point out the one thing this population debate is not about, is race. It's not a matter of interest to me as to whether migrants come from Britain or from Europe or from Asia or from Africa, So we shouldn't change immigration policy. the non-discriminatory the problem will fix itself, Still other experts believe that birth rates will fall and population here and globally at 10 billion. will stabilise by 2050 predict this for years, I've been listening to demographers the fact is that it never happens. exponentially, Our population has been rising both globally and in Australia. There is no basis to believe that when we hit 36 million by 2050, we'll simply stop there. The fact is we'll crash right through that and keep on going. And Kevin Rudd has appointed a population minister, Tony Burke, who says he'll have a plan ready for discussion within a year - no doubt after the next Federal election.