By Hilary White

CANBERRA, April 24, 2009 ( – A population control pressure group has issued a call for the Australian government to institute a one-child policy to ensure the continent’s environmental and economic “sustainability.” Sustainable Population Australia (SPA) said this week that Australia’s 22 million people must be reduced to 7 million and that restricting each couple to one baby, as China does, is “one way of assisting to reduce the population” and avoiding “environmental suicide.” 

Speaking on the eve of Earth Day, the group’s national president, Sandra Kanck, a former Democrat politician, said a one-child policy is “something we need to throw into the mix.”

Population increase, she said, means, “more cars on the road, more coal-fired electricity generated. It entails more houses and other consumer products. It uses more cement, energy and water which all results in more greenhouse gas emissions.”

“Increasing the population is basically suicide, it’s environmental suicide, it’s utterly irresponsible,” Kanck said. “We are eating away at the planet, we are eating into all the resources, be it petrol, be it superphosphate, be it clear air.”

SPA was founded in Canberra in 1988, and calls for the reduction of the human population to what it believes is a more environmentally manageable size. Ms. Kanck, who has one child herself, also called for the abolition of the government baby bonus for all children in a family after a couple’s first.

Stephen Mosher, President of the Population Research Institute, responded to the proposal, saying that to suggest that Australia is overpopulated stretches the imagination. He told by email, “With only 22 million people scattered across nearly 3 million square miles of land, the dominant carnivore in many parts of the country is not man, but the dingo.”

“The Radical Environmentalists in Australia, as everywhere else, think of people as a pestilence. They are determined to reduce their number, even if this means adopting China’s one-child policy, with its forced restrictions on birth. And even if this means destroying the economy, and condemning the elderly to a hand-to-mouth existence as the pension funds go belly up.”

The Australian Democrats issued a media release distancing the party from Ms. Kanck’s comments. Australian Democrat David Winderlich said, “People might think that she’s speaking for the Democrats. She’s not.” He said, “We do have a population problem but a draconian one-child approach is not the solution.”

The party’s statement said, “It is a core belief of the Australian Democrats that we must work together to find practical solutions to all our problems that do not infringe the right of Australians to choose how they want to live their lives.”

Steve Mosher added that Australia’s most pressing “population problem,” is “too few people.” “I’m actually more than happy for the radical enviros to voluntarily adopt a one-child policy – they have, for the most part, already done so – but they shouldn’t try and impose it on the rest of us.”

Mainland Australia is a country of just under 22 million inhabitants that spans an area of 7.7 million sq km, only slightly smaller than the 48 states of the mainland US with its 279.6 million people. The total land mass of the 27 member states of the European Union at 4.3 million sq. km, is considerably smaller than that of Australia, but has almost 500 million inhabitants.

The median female age for Australia is 38.1 years and the country has a population growth rate of 1.195 per cent as of 2009. Australia’s overall fertility rate is well-below replacement level at 1.78 children born per woman, and the country relies heavily on immigration to maintain its population.

In birth rate, however, Australia is already slightly ahead, in population-control terms, of the only country in the world that has a working and enforced one-child policy, the People’s Republic of China. China’s overall fertility rate is 1.79 children born per woman as of 2009, compared to Australia’s 1.78. China has a population growth rate below that of Australia, at 0.655 per cent, but this is likely due to restrictions on immigration into the communist country.

Economics is one of SPA’s major arguments against more population growth. The group claims that population growth has negative economic effects including increased housing costs and lower wages and living standards. However, as one of the major western powers, Australia is also considerably ahead of China in quality of life, health and economic areas. Australia’s per capita GDP is estimated at (US) $47,400, compared with China’s estimated per-capita GDP between (US) $5,963 and $6,000.

Despite Australia’s economic success, some have warned that population implosion is looming with the country’s shrinking birth rate and reliance on immigration to sustain its work force. Gail Instance, the head of Australia’s Family Life International, has said, “Common sense tells us that we are committing national suicide. We had better make up our minds about who we want to give this country to—since we don’t seem to want it ourselves.”

George Cardinal Pell, the Catholic archbishop of Sydney, has warned that, “We need to start rethinking this [anti-natal] attitude if we want enough people around when we are old to care for us, pay taxes to support us, and if necessary, go to war to defend us.”