Melbourne: Australia`s new Prime Minister
Julia Gillard on Sunday vetoed her predecessor Kevin Rudd`s idea
of a `big Australia,` indicating a slowdown in immigration to
the nation where Indians constitute one of the largest chunk
She said Australia with a population of 22 million
should not "hurtle down" towards a big population but opt for
Gillard, the country`s first woman prime minister who
ousted Rudd, took a different stand on one of his chief policy
issues and said she supports a population that the nation`s
environment, infrastructure and services can sustain.
The nation should not "hurtle down the track towards a
big population," she said according to an ABC report.
"I don`t support the idea of a big Australia with
arbitrary targets of, say, a 40 million-strong Australia or a
36 million-strong Australia. We need to stop, take a breath
and develop policies for a sustainable Australia," she said.
According to Treasury`s Intergenerational Report
earlier this year Australian population was projected to rise
from about 22 million to 35.9 million in 2050 if the current
trends in overseas migration and fertility continued, with
immigration by far the biggest contributor.
Gillard said: "If you spoke to the people of Western
Sydney, for example, about a big Australia... they would laugh
at you and ask you a very simple question: where will these 40
million people go?"
However, Gillard said it does not mean putting a stop
on immigration all together. "I don`t want business to be held
back because they couldn`t find the right workers... That`s
why skilled migration is so important.
"But also I don`t want areas of Australia with 25 per
cent youth unemployment because there are no jobs," she said.
Melbourne was predicted to hit a figure of 7 million
people, and Sydney would grow to more than 7.5 million by
2050. The report prompted the country to rethink its migration
policy over whether big cities, now straining under inadequate
infrastructure, could cope with the growth.
Former Prime Minister Rudd, who was an advocate of a
"big Australia" had appointed Tony Burke as Population
Minister to develop a strategy.
Gillard, who immigrated as a child from Wales in 1966
when Australia`s population was 11.5 million, said Burke`s job
description would now change to "send a very clear message
about this new direction". He would now be known as the
Minister for Sustainable Population.
Though Gillard stressed that her belief that
population growth should be limited was "not about bringing
down the shutters in immigration," any move to lower current
rates would involve taking in significantly fewer immigrants.
Last year, overseas migration added almost 300,000
people majorly from the developing countries like Philippines,
Malaysia, India, Indonesia and Vietnam.
"It is a debate about planning affected by many
factors, water supply, open space, infrastructure, ensuring
the appropriate tax base to support our ageing population...
the need for skills and the need to preserve a good quality of
life," Gillard said.
Gillard had earlier suggested the government could
pursue different immigration policies for different parts of
"Australia has this very difficult problem - parts of
Australia are desperate for workers, but other parts are
desperate for jobs".
"Having a smart and sustainable population, coupled
with the right skills strategy, will help improve this
Gillard also said that she wanted Australia to have a
carbon tax and is prepared to fight for it.
According to ABC report, she said she had doubts about
the emissions trading scheme because there was no lasting and
deep community consensus for it.
"I was concerned that if you were going to do
something as big to your economy as put a price on carbon,
with the economic transfer that implies... you need a lasting
and deep community consensus to do it," she said.
She said she believed that climate change was caused
by human activity and "I believe we have an obligation to
"I will be making some statements about some further
things we can do to address the challenge of climate change as
we work to that lasting and deep community consensus".
Her comments come on the back of a survey that shows
the Government could gain significant support from swinging
voters if it does more to address climate change.
The Climate Institute poll, which surveyed 1,000
people and was also conducted on behalf of several other green
groups, found that many Australians are wanting to see
concrete plans to deal with climate change.
More than half of those surveyed had lost confidence
in Labor`s ability to deal with climate change and over
two-thirds had lost confidence in either major party to deal
with the issue.
At least 36 per cent said they would be more likely to
vote for the Government if it did take action before the