Yesterday's Sydney Morning Herald features a call from the Anglican General Synod to limit Australia's population growth by restricting immigration and cutting out policies to encourage people to have children such as the baby bonus in the name of ecological sustainability.
Their Public Affairs Commission, in a discussion paper argued that:
"Out of care for the whole Creation, particularly the poorest of humanity and the life forms who cannot speak for themselves, it is not responsible to stand by and remain silent,"..."Unless we take account of the needs of future life on Earth, there is a case that we break the eighth commandment - 'Thou shall not steal'."
Not the most logical position one would have thought - after all the most obvious 'life forms who cannot speak for themselves' are the unborn threatened with abortion. And in terms of 'stealing', who are migrants stealing from? I would have thought you could argue that protecting Australia's high incomes and lifestyle by resticting access to our resources to a very small population within our borders, rather than allowing others from poorer countries to migrate here at least arguably fits the bill just as well as this claim that they are stealing from future Australian generations. Dissapointing, but not surprising, to see the Anglicans jumping on the bandwagon.
Population growth is shaping up to be a major election issue this year, and perhaps that is a good thing, though the hope that such a complex issue might be adequately debated seems optimistic.
There is a reality that Australia's current very high immigration policy does seem to be driven largely by greed: the result of business lobbying for a cheap labour force to sustain economic growth driven by the mining boom. The combination of the Rudd Government's Resource Rent Tax and the normal boom and bust cycle of the mining sector should shortly put paid to this demand - leaving behind a large disaffected group who cannot readily be absorbed into Australian culture.
Because the real issue is not of course natural population growth - Australia's has picked up somewhat from its extreme lows of a decade or so ago, but not nearly enough to drive the high population scenarios advocated by Rudd and others.
The real issue is of course immigration, and the proper balance between our short term economic needs, between giving people from poorer countries new opportunities, and maintaining cultural coherence.
At the moment we don't seem to have that right balance right. But justifying restricting immigration in the name of Green objectives - rather than to protect our culture - may be PC but it is dangerous.