The founders of Flight Centre, Graham Turner and Geoff Harris, may join up with entrepreneur and Aussie legend Dick Smith to found a new party to be called the Sustainable Australia Party.
A report in the Australian says the three are discussing setting up a party which would campaign against a “big Australia” and foreign ownership of farmland.
A central policy of the party would entail slowing immigration to about 70,000 per year (from the current 200,000 or so) and eventually stabilising Australia’s population. The party would contest next year’s federal election.
The watershed climate pact in Paris at the weekend, and the focus on sustainability likely to flow from it, may make next year an auspicious time for the party’s launch.
Smith and Turner see eye-to-eye on sustainability and feel Australia should abandon its quest for unending economic growth.
Although they are not anti-growth, the two leading businessmen reportedly disagree with the mantra of economic growth at all costs. Harris presumably feels the same way.
Smith is already involved in the Sustainable Population Party (www.votesustainable.org.au) which applied to the Australian Electoral Commission several weeks ago to change its name to Sustainable Australia. The party argues that lowering Australia’s annual immigration intake and returning to the long-term average of 70,000 migrants a year would free up overwhelmed Department of Immigration resources to devote to more intensive screening, integration and resettlement support services for each migrant.
This would return Australia to a position in which migrants maximise their quality of life and contribution to Australia, whilst integrating with Australia’s common basic values including tolerance and gender equality, the party contends.
Turner told BRW earlier this year: “We’ve got a population the size of Canberra being added every year and we’ve got to build a city to house them. I would say we’ve got to drive it back to between 75,000 and 80,000 [migrants]”.
He added that Australia’s 25% population increase since 2000 was higher than many developing countries.
Australia’s population grew by 316,000 people in the 12-month period ending 31 March 2015 (a figure that consists of births over deaths, plus migration) and some projections say it is trending higher.
The Australia Institute has estimated an extra 400,000 Australians a year requires an additional 61 public primary schools, two public hospitals, 25 residential aged-care homes, and 145,000 houses.
Written by Peter Needham