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As Queensland’s population hits 5 million, debate continues on how big Australia should be

Daryl Passmore & Trenton Akers, May 15, 2018 8:27PM The Courier-Mail

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Crowds at Bondi Beach Picture: Jenny Evans media_cameraCrowds at Bondi Beach Picture: Jenny Evans

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Queensland welcomes its five millionth resident* today.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced the milestone* in State Parliament with the number expected to be reached late this afternoon.

Ms Palaszczuk said the population boom* was due to migration*, particularly from New South Wales. The state welcomed 50,000 migrants over the past year, 31,000 from overseas and 19,000 from other states.

That is on top of 60,000 babies born across the state over the same time.

“Today is good news for Queensland,” she said.

Rafael and Ana Luiza and son Marcelo Huguenin came to live in Brisbane, Queensland, from Brazil four years ago as skilled migrants. Picture: Lyndon Mechielsen media_cameraRafael and Ana Luiza and son Marcelo Huguenin came to live in Brisbane, Queensland, from Brazil four years ago as skilled migrants. Picture: Lyndon Mechielsen

But not everyone thinks a big, fast-growing population across Australia is a good thing.

Australia’s population is almost 25 million and is expected to reach 36 million by 2050 raising concerns about the effect on the environment and the results of overcrowding, including higher costs of living, traffic problems and the need for most people to live in high-rise apartments instead of houses with backyards.

Suburbs on the Gold Coast, Queensland. Picture: Nigel Hallett media_cameraSuburbs on the Gold Coast, Queensland. Picture: Nigel Hallett

Sustainable Australia is a political party formed to argue against a big population.

Party founder William Bourke warned that if our current growth continues cars and houses with backyards will become impossible to own.

“If our population growth continues at this rate, you’ll be taxed* out of owning your own car,” he said. “This is not just 36 million by 2050. We’re talking about a population of 80 to 100 million people by the end of the 21st century.”

Mr Bourke said a growing population would mean “massive queues” for hospital beds and school enrolments.

He warned of major environmental impacts if our population continues to rise.

“Studies have shown that with our current population greenhouse gases are going up, and the effects of climate change will be exacerbated*,” he said.

He also expressed concern for animal welfare, following reports in recent years of koalas being pushed towards extinction due to urbanisation*, climate change and land clearing.

This map shows how big our cities will be by 2050

Former NSW premier Bob Carr, who believes Australia should halve its immigration rate, warned that a big population could lead to “fences and turnstiles*” and “rationed* access” to walking trails along the coast and in national parks.

“When the population around Bondi, for example, reaches the sort of intensified* level that means the roads are choked most days in summer, do you start to ration access to the coastal walking trails along the coast?” he said.

Former prime minister Tony Abbott also recently called for Australia’s migrant intake to be reduced and said he feared wages would not grow, our roads would become clogged*, house prices would rise and more ethnic* gangs would form.

High-rise buildings and heavy traffic are already a part of life in bigger Australian cities such as Melbourne. Picture: Mark Stewart media_cameraHigh-rise buildings and heavy traffic are already a part of life in bigger Australian cities such as Melbourne. Picture: Mark Stewart

Doctor Liz Allen, a demographer* at the Australian National University said our current migration intake is perfect for economic* growth — that is, it should be no more and no less.

“If we were to look at the net effects of the contribution* to the economy, Australia benefits and gains more from migrants than migrants draw from Australia,” she said.

GLOSSARY

  • resident: person who lives there
  • milestone: a stage reached or important event
  • boom: growing quickly
  • migration: moving from one place to another
  • taxed: money collected by the government
  • exacerbated: made worse
  • urbanisation: population moving to the cities from the rural areas
  • turnstiles: gates to slow movement
  • rationed: limited
  • intensified: stepped up or increased
  • clogged: stuck
  • ethnic: racial
  • demographer: population researcher
  • economic: relating to the economy, or money
  • contribution: a gift or payment

LISTEN TO TODAY’S STORY

QUICK QUIZ

  1. Where did the Queensland Premier make her announcement?
  2. How many babies were born in Queensland in the past year?
  3. What is Australia’s current population?
  4. What are three possible results of overcrowding?
  5. Who said: “Australia benefits and gains more from migrants than migrants draw from Australia”?

CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES
1. More or Less
Make two columns and use these to help you outline the positives and negatives of population growth in Australia. Be sure to think about the economic growth that comes with having more migrants and a higher population and where that money goes.

2. Extension: Which states have the highest expected population growth? Think of some reasons why this may be the case for that state.

Time: Allow 20 minutes
Curriculum links: English, Geography

VCOP ACTIVITY
With a partner see if you can you identify all the doing words/verbs in this text.
Highlight them in yellow and then make a list of them all down your page. Now see if you and your partner can come up with a synonym for the chosen verb. Make sure it still makes sense in the context it was taken from.

Try to replace some of the original verbs with your synonyms and discuss if any are better and why.

Curriculum Links: English, Big Write and VCOP

IN ONE SENTENCE, TELL US WHAT YOU THINK ABOUT THIS STORY
Please do not use one-word answers. Explain what you enjoyed or found interesting about the article. Use lots of adjectives.

Extra Reading in civics