By Hilary White

June 4, 2009 ( – In April, a leading population control group in Australia issued a call for the government to institute a one-child policy in order to drastically reduce the population from its current 21.3 million to 7 million. But a sustainable Australia, said Anthony Ozimic, an Australian and the political secretary of Britain’s Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), must be based on the understanding that people are the country’s most valuable primary resource.

Australia’s biggest problem, Ozimic said, is too few people to take advantage of its abundant natural resources. In a letter to John Smeaton, head of SPUC, Ozimic said his family came to Australia from Europe to help build the country’s oil and gas infrastructure.

“Australia,” he said, “has always been a country of pioneers, whether it be explorers of Australia's vast habitable areas or scientists finding better ways to supply food, water and energy.”

“A radical cut in Australia's population would mean cutting Australia's best natural resource – its people, and the future pioneers among them,” he continued.

But Australia’s below-replacement fertility rate and high abortion rate, he said, raise concerns about the future. Problems like “sustainability [and] pollution, will not be addressed if fewer potential future scientists and engineers are born.”

Australia is among the majority of industrialized western nations with low birth rates and high rates of immigration, that is experiencing significant aging of its population. According to the most recent statistics, Australia’s birth rate stands at 1.78 children born per woman, while the rate needed to maintain a stable population is 2.1. In addition, the median age for women is 38.1 years, higher than the age at which it is easy to conceive children.

Nevertheless, calls continue for the suppression of the already low birth rate. In 2007, the Medical Journal of Australia published an article by a medical professor advocating a one-child policy and a higher rate of taxation for parents who have more than two children. Professor Barry Walters of the King Edward Memorial Hospital in Perth, wrote that, instead of receiving a “baby bonus,” parents should be forced to pay an upfront tax of $4,390 USD for each child born after their second child, and up to $700 annually thereafter.

“Every newborn baby in Australia represents a potent source of greenhouse gas emissions for an average of 80 years, not simply by breathing but by the profligate consumption of resources typical of our society,” Walters wrote.

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