Tactics Against Bipartisan Climate Change Policy in Australia – Limits to Growth?

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A recent ABC article ‘The day that plunged Australia’s climate change policy into 10 years of inertia‘, endeavoured to describe how climate change consensus was broken by former Liberal MP Andrew Robb who claimed he had followed the ‘Limits to Growth’ (LTG) theory via the Club of Rome but changed his mind, hence withdrew support on bipartisan support on carbon emission measures (?).

And so it was that Andrew Robb made one of the most extraordinary and — by most conventional measures — indefensible tactical decisions in the history of political chicanery.

Also reported in climate science denial blog in the USA Watts Up With That with post titled ‘How “The Limits to Growth” Broke Australia’s Bipartisan Carbon Tax’, as did Catallaxy Files in ‘Australia Follow the climate money and the time when Tony beat Malcolm by one vote’ which also promotes climate science denialism.

In fact the LTG theory, ‘a riddle wrapped up in an enigma’, is irrelevant to climate change as it was developed as a PR construct of liberal and environment ideas or theory then (misre)presented publicly as grounded and tested empirical science to confuse debates, then both opponents and protagonists.

The pseudo-science of LTG was developed and presented via the Club of Rome and applied by some of the participants and collaborators including Herman Daly’s ‘Steady-state economy’ (autarkist economy), Paul Ehrlich’s ‘population bomb’ and his Zero Population Growth (ZPG) colleague John ‘passive eugenics’ Tanton to support immigration restrictions for non-Europeans.

Interesting was that the Club of Rome was hosted on the Rockefeller (Standard Oil/Exxon) estate and sponsored by Fiat and VW, while ZPG had support from Rockefeller Brothers, Ford and Carnegie Foundations; strong whiff of fossil fuels, global corporates/oligarchs and eugenics.

LTG helped encourage a pincer movement of seemingly unrelated ideas or constraints which in fact protect the corporate and personal interests of such global players.  Daly’s autarkist Steady-state theory stresses nation states, avoidance of trade agreements (and environmental regulations) etc. while allowing long standing global corporates (with existing footprints) to operate without commercial, competitive or regulatory constraint (James Buchanan’s radical right libertarianism for all, i.e. ‘Public Choice Theory‘, except when there is state support for global corporates).

From University of Sussex on Limits to Growth or ‘Models of Doom‘:

‘An interdisciplinary team at Sussex University’s Science Policy Research Unit reviewed the structure and assumptions of the models used and published its finding in Models of Doom; showing that the forecasts of the world’s future are very sensitive to a few unduly pessimistic key assumptions. The Sussex scientists also claim that the Meadows et al. methods, data, and predictions are faulty, that their world models (and their Malthusian bias) do not accurately reflect reality.’

How could they promote not just junk science but inequitable libertarian economics to the masses for the benefit of the few and have ‘Turkeys vote for Christmas’?

Brexit is a good example, Trump also and Australia since Tampa refugee incident, i.e. dog whistling immigration, population growth, and white nationalism, then encourages borders, withdrawal from trade agreements and insular view of the world, while allowing global corporates to fly under the radar and conservative political parties to gain votes (especially amongst the upper median age cohort) to implement the right policies (or not at all).

 

The day that plunged Australia’s climate policy into 10 years of inertia

BY ANNABEL CRABBUPDATED SUN AT 1:28PM

Ten years ago Andrew Robb arrived at Parliament House intent upon an act of treachery.

No-one was expecting him. Robb was formally on leave from the Parliament undergoing treatment for his severe depression.

But the plan the Liberal MP nursed to himself that morning would not only bring about the political demise of his leader, Malcolm Turnbull, but blow apart Australia’s two great parties irrevocably just as they teetered toward consensus on climate change, the most divisive issue of the Australian political century.

They have never again been so close.

A decade later, according to the ABC’s Australia Talks National Survey, climate change is a matter of urgent community concern. Eighty-four per cent of respondents said that climate change was real and that action was warranted. When offered a range of 19 issues and asked which were of gravest personal concern, climate change ranked at number one.

As bushfires ravage the landscape and drought once again strangles vast tracts of the continent, the inability of the Australian Parliament to reach agreement on how to answer the threat of climate change — or even discuss it rationally — may well be one of the drivers of another shrieking headline from the Australia Talks research: 84 per cent of respondents also feel that Australian politicians are out of touch with the views of the people they represent.

This is the story — told on its 10th birthday — of a political event that changed the course of a nation’s history.

How bipartisan policy fell apart

Robb was on sick leave from his job as shadow minister for climate, managing the notoriously difficult transition from one anti-depressant medication to another.

In his absence, acting shadow minister for climate Ian Macfarlane had successfully negotiated, with the authority of Liberal leader Malcolm Turnbull, a deal with the Rudd government to land the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, or CPRS.

An extraordinary tactic

And so it was that Andrew Robb made one of the most extraordinary and — by most conventional measures — indefensible tactical decisions in the history of political chicanery.

Parliament House is no stranger to mental illness. Historically, its sufferers have covered their tracks, loath to be seen as vulnerable.

But this must be the only recorded occasion on which mental illness has been used as a tactic.

Robb ripped himself a scrap of paper and scrawled a note to Turnbull.

“The side effects of the medication I am on now make me very tired. I’d be really grateful if you could get me to my feet soon,” he wrote.

Turnbull called Robb to speak soon after. He rose, and denounced the proposed scheme in forensic detail, his words carrying significant weight as the erstwhile bearer of the relevant portfolio.

The deal never recovered. The meeting went on for six more hours. Turnbull — a streetfighter when cornered — added the numbers of shadow Cabinet votes to the “yes” votes in the party room and declared that he had a majority.

Leadership contest

The party room wasn’t buying it. Turnbull was cooked.

One week and one day later — December 1, 2009 — a ballot was held for the leadership of the Liberal Party.

Tony Abbott — who nominated against both Turnbull and shadow treasurer Joe Hockey — won by a single vote.

The Abbott opposition was born, with its strident campaign against Labor’s “great big new tax on everything”.

The next day, the emissions trading scheme legislation went to a vote in the Parliament and was defeated soundly.

Both the Coalition and the Greens voted against.

The Rudd government relinquished its attempts to put a price on carbon. Rudd himself was overthrown mid-2010. Julia Gillard staked her political life on installing a carbon price, but lost it at the 2013 election in the face of Abbott’s muscular anti-carbon-tax campaign.

Abbott installed his “Direct Action” model which survives to this day, despite Turnbull’s subsequent prime ministership, during which he tried and failed to introduce the National Energy Guarantee, a legislative device aimed at establishing reliable supply and reduced emissions from the energy sector….

….’You can still see the scars’

For Kane Thornton, chief executive of the Clean Energy Council, the past 10 years are a tale of intense frustration.

“What happened back then has just so fundamentally shaped the direction and the context for climate and energy policy ever since,” he says…..

…..Visiting Sydney this week, the founder of Bloomberg New Energy Finance, British-born Michael Liebreich, was brutal in his assessment of Australia’s contemporary energy situation.

“It’s unbelievable how you can have a country with such cheap solar power, such cheap wind power, frankly such cheap natural gas and yet you still have expensive power and an unreliable grid,” he told ABC’s AM.

“I mean, how do you do that? It’s a government failure.”

Turnbull, in an interview published on Saturday by The Guardian, said the climate debate in Parliament was hostage to “insurgents” inside the Coalition.

“There are plenty of odd beliefs out there and conspiracy theories but what I have always struggled to understand is why climate denialism still has the currency that it has, particularly given the evidence of the impact of climate change is now so apparent, and it is particularly apparent to people living in regional and rural Australia,” he said.

“Precisely what has been forecast is happening.”…..

…..Robb admits that his was an extraordinary intervention in a sliding-doors juncture of Australian political history.

“I’ve seen so often in my career where something monumental gets down to one vote. Then when the vote’s taken, it sticks, and the world adjusts. It was the beginning of Tony — who won by one vote. Democracy’s an amazing thing, really. And it does show you that if you’ve got half of the votes or just over half or just under, that can reflect community attitudes too,” he says.

“This is not a fault of democracy, it’s a fact.”

He mentions that when he was a much younger man, he was “a great student” of the Club of Rome, an association of scientists, bureaucrats, politicians and public thinkers who in 1972 published the book Limits To Growth, warning that the world’s resources could not withstand the depredations of ceaseless economic growth indefinitely.

Limits To Growth is still the highest-selling environmental book in the history of the world, having sold 30 million copies in more than 30 languages.

But Robb’s early fascination with the work gave way to distrust of its conclusions and primitive computer modelling; he says its warnings of resource exhaustion and economic collapse towards the end of the 20th century were overstated.

“The thing they didn’t talk about was technology. That you could find gas 300 kilometres offshore, for example, and find a way to bring it onshore. Because of this, the Club of Rome — which was quite a reputable group of people — looked more and more ridiculous as the years rolled on.”

The Club of Rome has its critics and its defenders; Limits To Growth was commonly derided by the 1990s as a misguided Doomsday scenario, but has enjoyed something of a renaissance lately. The CSIRO published a paper in 2008 finding that the book’s 30-year modelling of consequences from a “business as usual” approach to economic growth was essentially sound.

But what’s not deniable is that this work influenced one young man who grew up to be one member of a parliamentary party with a singular role to play in one vote on a policy that would either change or not change the course of a country.

Democracy, he says, is an amazing thing.

Or an infuriating thing. Or mysterious. Or random.’

 

For more articles and blog posts about population growth, immigration and white nationalism click through.

 

Australian Brexit?

Sam Roggeveen of the Lowy Institute has written about the potential of an ‘Australian Brexit’ due to a global political transformation (ideology and strategy) towards radical white nativist ideas, isolationism and putting pressure on mainstream parties to comply, while being presented as organic or the ‘people’s will’.

There has been gross over simplification of Brexit to supposedly avoid bureaucracy, the EU, Europe and increasing antipathy towards immigration by ageing electorates through populist politicians.

However, many would suggest Australia had a form of Brexit upon colonisation via the First Fleet 1888 by the British, then after Federation in 1901 the bi-partisan ‘White Australia Policy’ inspired by British eugenics movement (and finally ended after mostly through opposition by NGOs, churches etc.).

Fast forward to the supposed crisis of Tampa when then Australian Prime Ministers helped start the demonisation of refugees with able support from mainstream media including Murdoch’s NewsCorp, then carried further by society in creating antipathy towards non-Europeans; a new proxy white Australia policy.

Further, there are clear links between ideology, political and media tactics of white nativism or white nationalism inspired by eugenics, which has been mainstreamed in the US and UK; with further links onto the fringes of Europe.

White nationalism, white nativism or eugenics all share a clear architecture including astro turfing, manipulation of media, fake news etc., that can also be linked to radical right libertarians or elements of neo-liberalism by global corporates, via think tanks, to deflect attention away from tax avoidance, interference in domestic policies, cast doubt on climate change etc.

Brexit for Australia?

The new conventional wisdom in Canberra doesn’t stack up

By Sam Roggeveen

November 5, 2019 — 12.00am

It is Canberra’s new conventional wisdom: the government’s unexpected election victory gives Prime Minister Scott Morrison stature and stability that his recent predecessors all lacked. The last decade of political dysfunction is behind us. The trouble is, this view is based solely on very recent events in one country alone. What if we took a global perspective over a longer period?

A political transformation has been under way in Western democracies for decades now, quietly and in the background for most of that time, though in recent years it has broken cover. In the US it produced Donald Trump, in the UK Brexit, and in Europe the rise of new right-wing populist movements.

Western democracy has hollowed out. It has happened in two stages. First, the public has drifted away from major political parties, the institutions that once connected them to the political process. In every Western nation, mainstream centre-right and centre-left parties are in decline. In the early to mid-20th century, party affiliation was a question of class, religion and family inheritance – you voted a certain way because your parents and peers did too. But for decades now membership of the big parties has fallen and the share of the vote they can rely on has decreased.

In response (and this is stage two), the big parties have found new ways to survive. They have evolved from amateur mass-membership organisations to small, professionalised outfits financially reliant on big donors and, increasingly, the state. Other than at election time, the big parties don’t really need the public.

So, voters withdrew from political parties, and the parties responded with a withdrawal of their own. The result is that the public square is left empty and politics is hollow.

In Europe, right-wing populist parties have done well because the minority of voters who are attracted to those ideas have slipped from the grip of the big parties. But as France’s Emmanuel Macron and Germany’s Greens show, the big parties are not bleeding votes only to the right, they are losing them in the centre and on the left too.

In America, the weakening of parties helped mavericks like Trump and Bernie Sanders, who tied themselves to the big parties out of self-interest rather than conviction.

In the UK and Australia, the decline of the big parties has produced a different kind of instability. In both countries the voting system makes it hard for small parties to win seats even though their vote share has increased. Yet as the big parties have become less popular, they have also become less stable and more vulnerable to shocks from outsiders and ambitious MPs. That’s what caused Brexit, essentially an internal Tory Party dispute stirred up by Eurosceptic backbenchers and Nigel Farage’s UKIP.

It is also what has produced the leadership churn in Australian politics over the last decade, a succession of tight election results, and two periods of minority government. Australians are abandoning the major parties at record rates. At the same time, these shrinking and insular parties are increasingly cut off from a bored and unengaged Australian public.

Lacking genuine connections to a deep social base, major-party MPs look to their peer groups in politics and the media for inspiration, which is where they got the idea that changes of leadership might fix their problems and why, for instance, Morrison borrows Trumpian language on “negative globalism”.

The 2019 election resolved none of these underlying problems. True, the Liberal and Labor parties have now changed their rules so that leadership coups are harder to mount, but this is much more than just a leadership issue.

Again, if we broaden our view beyond Australian shores, we can see why. Angela Merkel has been German chancellor for 14 years, yet in that period, German politics has been completely transformed – Alternative fur Deutschland, a populist party that didn’t even exist when Merkel took office, is now the official opposition in the Bundestag.

It would be foolish to assume that Australian politics, still dominated by two parties the public cares little for, is suddenly immune to upheaval on that scale.

Sam Roggeveen is director of the International Security Program at the Lowy Institute and author of Our Very Own Brexit: Australia’s Hollow Politics and Where It Could Lead Us.’

For more articles and blogs about white nationalism, immigration and Australian politics click through.

International Education – Foreign Student – Value

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The value of international education and international students, tangible and intangible, is egregiously under – estimated by the application of a narrow ‘white nativist’ or politically opportunistic prism that ignores inconvenient facts and dynamics.

Many Australians of Anglo Irish heritage focus too much upon international students described as ‘immigrants’, their potential for permanent residency (with significant hurdles) and demands for same ‘foreign’ students to return home in support of their home country.

Conversely same qualifications are used by Australians internationally, many of the same gain other residency or even dual citizenship, yet there are no demands for the same e.g. to return home and/or pay back fees?

This dynamic is simply a reflection of increasing geographical and social mobility (taken for granted in the EU) for all in the developed and many in the less developed worlds for whom higher education and/or technical skills and languages improve their lives and others’.

Meanwhile too many narratives from our mono-cultural political, media and social elites seem about creating ‘us vs them’ for voters, and worse, deep seated Nativist or colonial ideology.

Global population is expected to peak mid-century whereby there may be increased competition for people, with sub-Saharan Africa being the only place with population growth and significant younger demographic cohorts.

Late news: The U.K. has announced the re-introduction of post graduate work visas for international university graduates.

Australia should try to keep more international students who are trained in our universities

Jihyun Lee – September 13, 2019 6.02am AEST

Australia’s education system takes almost one in ten of all international students
from countries that are members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and
Development (OECD).

That’s according to the latest Education at a Glance report from the OECD.
But Australia should do more to retain some of those students after graduation or it
risks losing good talent overseas.

A degree of talent

The OECD report says Australia’s higher education sector is heavily reliant on international students. They represent about 48% of those enrolled in masters and 32% in doctoral programs.

This is partly due to a lack of interest among Australians in pursuing higher-degree study compared to other countries, about 10% in Australia versus 15% across OECD countries.

International students make up 40% of doctoral graduates in Australia, compared to 25% across OECD countries. That’s higher than the US (27%) and Germany (18%), the other two popular destinations for international students.

Australian students are not choosing some STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects as much as those in other OECD countries. For example, only 17% of adults (aged 25 to 64) with a tertiary degree had studied engineering, manufacturing and construction.

Other comparable industrialised countries such as Sweden (25%), Korea (24%), Japan (23%) and Canada (21%) are obviously doing better.  This trend appears to be getting worse because the proportion of new students entering STEM-related bachelor degree programs is lower in Australia (21%), compared to 27% across OECD and partner countries.

While the government here provides for up to four years of post-higher-degree stay for international students, it is inevitable that Australia faces a drain of foreign-born specialists who were educated in Australia.

In 2017, the Australian government granted permanent visas to only 4% of foreign students and temporary graduate visas to only 16% to live in Australia after completing their study. It is obvious then that many international students return home after they study in Australia.

What can the Australian government do?

We need to provide better incentives for those who complete a higher-degree program, especially in the STEM areas, to stay on in Australia.

The OECD’s report says people who studied information and communication technologies (ICT) and engineering as well as construction and manufacturing will continue to benefit greatly from strong labour-market opportunities everywhere in the world.

Australia can do better in attracting younger generations to be trained in the STEM area at higher degree levels. We then need to try to retain more of the foreign-born higher-degree holders rather than sending them back home.

Being afraid of an influx of Chinese or Indian students who will contribute to development of innovation and technological changes in this country should become a thing of the past.

Good news for Australia’s education

The Education at a Glance program aims to give an annual snapshot of the effectiveness of educational systems – from early childhood to doctoral level – across all OECD and partner countries.

At almost 500 pages, the 2019 report does contain some good news for Australia. Australia spends a higher proportion of its GDP (based on public, private and international sources) on education, 5.8% compared to the OECD average of 5.0%.

The Australian education system strongly promotes compulsory education. Our 11 years of compulsory education is the longest among OECD countries. That means each student gets 3,410 more hours over the period of compulsory education.

When it comes to people going on to further studies, the proportion of tertiary-educated Australians has increased over the past ten years. It is now 51%, compared to the OECD average of 44%.

On graduation, the average debt for Australian students is US$10,479 (A$15,243), one of the lowest among OECD countries. It’s about half that of New Zealand US$24,117 (A$35,080), which has similar tuition fees and financial support systems.

Education pays off

Australian young adults with vocational qualifications have a higher employment rate (83%) than the OECD average (80%).  Although earning power is still greater for those with a higher level of educational attainment, the financial return from more schooling is far smaller in Australia.

Compared to those with upper secondary education, full-time tertiary-educated Australian workers earn 31% more, compared to 57% more on average across OECD countries. Adults with a master’s or doctoral degree earn 52% more, compared to 91% more on average across OECD countries.

The OECD attributes this trend partially to good labour-market opportunities for those with upper secondary vocational qualifications.  The OECD also notes that the average employment rate for Australian tertiary-educated adults is 85%, only two percentage points higher than the 83% for those with a vocational upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary qualification. This is one of the smallest differences across OECD countries.

For more articles and blogs about international education, immigration, population growth and white nationalism click through.

Globalisation of Islamophobia and Antisemitism by White Nationalists

In recent years both Islamophobia and antisemitism have come to the fore in US, UK, Australian and European politics, media and social narratives, emanating from white nationalism, conspiracy theories and Nazi ideology.

Following are excerpts from an article by Nafeez Ahmed explaining the co-dependence and shared ideology of Islamophobia and antisemitism in the US white nationalist movement, now in the mainstream and coursing through social narratives including the ‘great replacement’ theory.

From the Foreign Policy in Focus:

Behind Islamophobia Is a Global Movement of Antisemites

By Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed

The global rise of white nationalist violence proves that the threat of fascism is not just
about one community — it threatens all communities: white people, black people,
Muslims, Jews, and beyond.

The spate of mass shootings at the end of July comes head on the heels of an escalating epidemic of U.S. gun violence. Since the beginning of the year, there have been at least 257 mass shootings, which have killed 9,080 people. This is nearly triple the number of people that died on 9/1 1 , the terrorist attack which justified U.S.-led wars that have killed at least a million people.

Over the last decade, nearly three quarters of terrorist attacks on U.S. soil have been
linked to domestic right-wing extremists, with just a quarter linked to Islamists. And in
201 8, every terrorist murder in the U.S. was linked to the extreme right.

The ideology of extreme white nationalism is now a bigger U.S. national security threat,
and a bigger cause of death, than Islamist terrorism or immigration. Yet millions of white
Americans have been brainwashed into believing the exact opposite….

 

The shared ideology of global white nationalism

In one of these tweets, Hopkins openly endorsed the rise of extreme nationalist
politicians around the world, including Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro, Italian interior minister Matteo Salvini, Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban, and leader of the Polish Law and Justice party (PiS) Jaroslaw Kaczynski.

All four politicians have promoted divisive, xenophobic policies….

 

The making of the ‘great replacement’ mythology

It is now widely recognized that at the core of this shared far-right ideology is the so called “great replacement” theory, which posits that a genocide of white people is being achieved through their replacement by migrants, mostly from Muslim countries (or, in the United States, from Latin America).

The overlapping xenophobic agendas of these politicians illustrates how latent Antisemitism remains a driving force in this global movement, which nevertheless masquerades under the guise of anti-migrant and anti-Muslim sentiment as a mechanism to achieve mainstream reach…

…In short, the focus on a “Muslim invasion” through a combination of mass immigration and birth rates allowed far-right groups inspired by neo-Nazi ideas to rehabilitate themselves and conceal their traditional anti-Semitic roots.

It is no surprise then to see that many of the groups that have played the biggest role in
spreading the core tenets of the “great replacement” mythology through the specter of a
global Islamist conspiracy are simultaneously allied with longstanding white nationalist
movements…

 

Widening the net

After 9/1 1 , the U.S. government launched a major multi-agency investigation into
terrorism financing across multiple agencies known as Operation Green Quest, focused
on uncovering Muslim charities operating as “front organizations” for terrorists.
The problem was that U.S. government agencies like the Treasury Department, FBI and
many others had a nebulous and weak understanding of the Muslim world, often leading investigators to see connections and ties which were not there and to read conspiratorial meaning into every association or relationship that might potentially link individuals or organizations to extremism — however tenuous….

 

Far-right penetration of the FBI

Indeed, part of the problem is that for years the FBI has suffered from institutional
Islamophobia.

FBI training manuals obtained by Spencer Ackerman for Wired revealed that after 9/1 1
the agency was teaching its counter terrorism agents that “main stream” [sic] American
Muslims are likely to be terrorist sympathizers; that the Prophet Mohammed was a “cult
leader”; and that the Islamic practice of giving charity is no more than a “funding
mechanism for combat.” And “combat” can include numerous techniques including
“immigration” and “law suits”. Thus, a Muslim who immigrates to the U.S. or sues the FBI
for harassment is seen as just another agent of the jihad….Rather the “Muslim invasion” narrative is central to the goal of legitimizing a broad, xenophobic agenda rooted in anti-Semitic movements historically aligned with neo Nazism.

The alliance between Islamophobes and anti-Semites

That is why so many of the same groups promoting Islamophobic myths play a lead role
in amplifying white nationalist concepts…..

….I described this alarming phenomenon as a form of “reconstructed-Nazism,” “indicating that the core ideology [of the global far-right] embraces core Nazi principles, but embeds them in a range of cosmetic narrative adjustments which allow those principles to function subliminally in a new post war, anti-Nazi, and post-9/1 1 global cosmopolitan context.”…

Conclusion

…The upshot of this is clear: Jews and Muslims cannot afford to be at loggerheads in the fight against fascism. Both communities are in the firing line of a global far-right agenda advanced by groups and political parties forged in the historic bowels of Nazism.

Whatever their political differences and disagreements, both communities need to forge
bonds of solidarity in the struggle against racism. If they are to survive, our communities
have no choice but to resist being distracted by efforts to divide us and turn us against
each other, which is a deliberate far-right strategy to debilitate both Jewish and Muslim communities. Instead, we need to identify new lines of strategic cooperation to resist and disrupt a global far-right movement which threatens not only our communities, but the very foundations of our democracies.

This means that no matter what our political leanings might be, the struggles against
Islamophobia and anti-Semitism are fundamentally about the same thing: protecting
diverse, inclusive, and free societies.’

For more articles and blogs about the political issues regarding immigration, population growth, white nationalism etc. click through.

Population Demographic Decline

Many believe that local, national and global population growth is exponential leading to calls to avoid immigration or cut, need for population control etc., but is it true?  No, according to experts, outside of the UN Population Division, population will peak mid century then decline while ageing further.

What does this mean for the world and nation state economies?  Competition for people whether immigration and temporary workers to fill gaps and support budgets.

From The Lowy Institute:

‘Harnessing demographic destiny

GRANT WYETH

Competition for the world’s best and brightest will intensify as global population growth slows. Is Australia ready?

Global Population will peak then decline

Managing Population Decline (Image copyright Pexels)

Once confident predictions that the world’s population will reach billion by the end of this century are beginning to be debunked. It is now appears more likely that the global population will hit a ceiling before reaching nine billion by mid-century, and then begin to decline.

This tapering of world population growth is being driven by two key revolutions. One is increasing urbanisation, with more and more people living in cities, which makes children less of an essential resource for families then they would be in rural areas. The other is female education and empowerment, with women deciding – when given the choice – that they desire no more than two children.

Such global trends have significant implications for individual countries, both in national capabilities and geostrategic calculations. This is particularly the case for Australia. Countries that are able to both retain and attract people will find themselves at a distinct advantage.

Currently there is a low-intensity competition for human capital between mostly Western states. These countries have recognised a basic demographic problem; that their birth rates are too low to replace their populations, and without immigration they will end up with elderly societies without the workers to sustain their living standards. Alongside this, attracting highly skilled migrants also boosts productivity.

Yet the population strategies of most of these countries are under threat by parochial narratives that place the political sustainability of their immigration programs at risk.

These narratives are born out of a paradox within the nation-state, where elements within these countries believe that the strategies of the state are undermining the nation. Such sentiment seems uninterested in economic imperatives, or indeed foreign policy concerns about their country’s capabilities in relation to others. Yet these issues are vital to a national interest, and therefore need to be aligned to how a country sees itself….

….. However, it would not be prudent for Australia to rely on this possibility.  By seeking to enhance its own capabilities, Australia can help to escape the influence of external forces. Which means in a world of declining birth rates, Australia’s immigration program should be seen as the country’s principal strategic asset. This indicates that Australia may need to develop something it currently lacks – a prominent positive public narrative around its highly successful immigration story.

A recent speech from Canada’s Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer offers a good example of the way Australia can develop a positive public narrative around immigration. Scheer highlighted the bravery of migration, the honour Canada feels at being chosen by migrants, and the prosperity that has developed in Canada as a consequence of these migrant flows. It is a speech that no politician in Australia could seemingly deliver (bar its requisite politicking) but is a sentiment that is embraced by all Canadian political parties (with the exception of the Quebec nationalist parties).

As a competitor to Australia for skilled labour, the message Scheer conveyed helps to reinforce support for Canada’s immigration program. And if national competition for people intensifies as global population declines, it will provide Canada with a distinct advantage that Australia currently cannot match.’

For more articles about population growth, immigration and NOM net overseas migration, click through.