Was our population about to fall off the table, do you think? Sorry, couldn’t help myself. I am approaching the Stable Population Party with neither expectations nor prejudice. With a name like that, they could be all about environmental issues and population control, or they could be all xenophobia, all the time, stopping the boats and making me excessively cross while they do so.
Which will it be? Only time – and their alarmingly green and gold website (now there’s a bad omen) will tell.
Let’s start with their Group Voting Tickets, of which they have three, because they are just that helpful. (Don’t they realise that I have a very small screen, and comparing three voting tickets side by side is a right pain? I’m beginning to develop a prejudice against any political party with more than one group voting ticket…)
The top of all three tickets is the same: they preference the Animal Justice Party (first people I’ve seen who do that) Senator Online, Motoring Enthusiasts, Bullet Train for Australia and the Democrats. It’s hard to do much with that – the Animal Justice Party suggests a greenie-vegan tinge, and the Bullet Train is also a bit environmental, but the Motoring Enthusiasts aren’t, and Senator Online could go in any direction. They are also anti coal seam gas, but pro marijuana prohibition, opera, and bank reform. OK, it’s possible that I’m lying about the opera part, but I like to think of the Australian Voice Party as being a political party full of singers. But it’s always possible that they prefer jazz…
Preferences then flow towards Family First and then the Australian Sex Party, with One Nation following a few lines later. At number 66 on their ticket, they finally get to the major parties, and yes, Labor, Liberal and the Greens get one each… though it’s notable that in two out of the three tickets, Labor winds up ahead of Liberal. The bottom four slots on the ticket are held by the Climate Sceptics, Rise Up Australia the Citizens Electoral Council and Stop The Greens.
I couldn’t agree more. Well, I could agree a little bit more, but those parties do all appear to be very good choices for the bottom of a ticket.
Incidentally, their website has a whole section on Senate preferences, explaining why they made the choices that they did on the ticket, but also encouraging people to vote in an informed fashion and below the line. A nice touch, in my view.
Their website tells us that they are about being Better, Not Bigger. Then they say it in even Bigger Letters, because they want to be Bigger At Being Better, or something along those lines. They also think that boat people are The Big Distraction. It’s all Big Stuff, let me tell you. And did I mention that it is very, very yellow and green? Also, population is the Everything Issue. That’s pretty Big, if you ask me.
They are ‘committed to a stable, sustainable, open and tolerant Australia’, which, to be fair, so am I, I just don’t feel the need to be so Big and Yellow about it. (I’m only mocking them because their website gives me a headache)
Settle down, Catherine.
Right, then. The Stable Population Party’s view is essentially that we are now on target to have a population of 40 million by 2050, and we need to slow down:
Population growth is now the underlying issue linked to all of Australia’s major problems.
Nice little appeal to greed there. And I really do mean that – I’ve spent the morning hearing members from Labor, the Greens and the Socialist Alliance explain why I should vote for them, and while I love the ideas of the latter two parties, a lot of them rely on most people being just as idealistic as they are. The appeal to an ideal is a fine thing, but in the real world, people are worried about their own quality of life, and appealing to them on a more practical level is a sensible notion.
- Relieve overstretched infrastructure including hospitals, schools, roads and public transport
- Ease cost of living pressures including housing, energy, water and transport
- Protect our environment including food, water & energy resources, native bushland and animal habitats
- Promote education and training to increase job opportunities for all Australians
- Minimise overdevelopment including high-rise and sprawl
- Create a more resilient economy to sustain and enhance prosperity
Population is not a single issue, it is the everything issue.
Doesn’t ‘everything issue’ sound nice? The Stable Population thinks it sounds nice! That’s why they like to use it wherever they can. Its the everything phrase.
On to the policies!
First, they want to limit government birth payments to each woman’s first two children. The idea here is not to restrict family size – but not to provide incentives to have large families. The payments they are thinking of are both the Baby Bonus and paid parental leave.
I am ambivalent about this, to be honest. On the one hand, I think they’ve been reasonably clever in finding policies that might discourage people from having huge families (emphasis on the might – I’m not sure how much difference this would make if someone really wanted a large family, as these incentives only really help in the first year, so if you had a plan to get through that, then you’re probably fine), without going all One Child Policy, Chinese style. On the other hand… we’ve only just brought in paid parental leave, damn it! This is not something I want to see taken away under any circumstances, as it really is one of the foundations of helping women stay in the workforce – and I do worry that taking it away under some circumstances could be a gateway to removing it all together.
Peripherally, I’m also not entirely sure that this wouldn’t place more of a burden on women than on men. I do get that we want to discourage people from having that third child, but it would be nice if the ‘punishment’ was likely to be more equally distributed. We already have a problem with women retiring much poorer than men due to time off work for childbearing and childraising. It would be nice not to add to this inequality.
Their next policy is zero net migration, with permanent immigration being equivalent to permanent emigration. Some of the ways they would do this would be by abolishing the Trans Tasman Travel Arrangement with New Zealand and reduce the numbers of 457 visas.
They would, however, support an annual refugee intake of 14,000 – 20,000, which would fall within the permanent immigration quota, and they reject ‘any selection of immigrants based on race or religion’.
On the whole, I like this.
Another key value of the Stable Population Party is overcoming racism:
The Stable Population Party strongly believes that the lack of reasoned debate on population growth fosters emotive responses of racism and intolerance. First and foremost, we must have evidence-based public discussions around the critical issue of finite resource sustainability (water, land, food, energy, etc) and therefore intergenerational quality of life. We simply must face the fact that we cannot grow forever in a finite world.
This need for a mature debate is why we started a political party, for all Australians. Our community party proudly includes Australian migrants born in every inhabited continent on Earth.
And, hello, we have a shout-out to my very own local member, Kelvin Thomson, who is quoted on a recent trip to England as saying that “Europe’s leaders need to develop a more sophisticated approach to the many challenges posed by economic migration if the extremists are not to continue to prosper”. Go, Kelvs!
There is an entire page devoted to debunking “the big distraction” – asylum seekers, and particularly boat people. A big header informs us that “The population issue is NOT about asylum seekers or refugees”, thank you, Stable Population Party.
In particular, they point out the average number of asylum seekers who are arriving by boat in recent years, and compare that to other sources of population growth… in context, it really isn’t very much. Also, they believe that ‘overpopulation drives the resources scarcity behind most current conflicts and forced migration – overpopulation drives boats!’.
I think they are missing a definite article there, but I do appreciate the mental image. And have you noticed that if you are in the Secular party, Refugees are caused by religion, but if you are in the Stable Population Party, they are caused by overpopulation? I look forward to an explanation from the Smokers’ Rights party of how excessive anti-smoking legislation leads to asylum seekers. Turn back the Smokes!
Oh, shut up, Catherine. Here’s some actual policy, for those of you still reading:
The Stable Population Party supports a generous intake of around 14,000-20,000 refugees per annum, depending on circumstances. But this should be within a balanced migration program, where total permanent immigration equals total permanent emigration. In recent years total permanent emigration has been around 80,000 per annum…
I’m not too sure what I think of this, actually. My head says that it’s probably a reasonable compromise (though the last paragraph is definitely in the realm of ‘easier said than done’), but my heart is uneasy about the bit about manipulation. It’s one of those words that people often use when they would rather ignore an appeal to conscience. I’m not saying that’s what is going on here, but, as I said, I’m just not entirely sure about this. Though it is a massive, massive improvement on the xenophobic scare-mongering we’ve been getting from the major parties.
Lastly, we have my absolute favourite bit, which is their Global Aid policy:
Tie foreign aid wherever possible to the improvement of economic and environmental sustainability, with a particular focus on female rights and education, and on opportunities for women and couples to access reproductive health and voluntary family planning services to help prevent unwanted pregnancies. Some 222 million women who would like to avoid or delay pregnancy lack access to effective family planning. Our aim is to help stabilise global population at the United Nations’ ‘low variant’ peak estimate of around 8 billion by mid century.
Yes, please. I’d vote for that.
The Stable Population Party is effectively a one issue party, and they are entirely comfortable with that. From their point of view, you need to solve the population problem before addressing everything else. Do you know why this is? It’s because Population is the Everything Issue!
More sensibly, here’s what they actually say about other policies:
As outlined in our website, population growth is now linked to all of Australia’s major problems. Yet no other political party is tackling this critical issue. This is why population needs its own platform, and why it is important to not dilute the message with other important but lower priority policy positions (e.g. republic, NBN, marriage definition, etc). If elected, prior to forming policies on such areas we would properly consult our membership and all community stakeholders. Some decisions may also come to a conscience vote, if a majority of party members require this.
We won’t resolve any of Australia’s major problems until we first resolve ‘the everything issue’ – population.
(drink!) (I’m afraid that Everything Issue just became a drinking game over here).
Having said that, they do have five core values:
These might also be indicative of where their votes would be likely to go on other issues.
All in all, this is a really interesting political party, with a lot more going for it than I initially expected. Interestingly, their policies seem to me to be more scientific – more logically thought out and founded in fact, if you will – than any other party I have read about so far, including either the Secular Party or our good friends the Climate Sceptics. I’ll be interested to see how they go in the election – my feeling is that they need to publicise themselves better, or the left-wing environmentally-friendly voters who should be their base might take one look at that name and the patriotic green and gold of their website and think that this is another anti-boat-people initiative. Of course, they might then pick up some equally confused right-wing voters, but that probably isn’t the goal, either. Definitely another one to watch for in the count – I can’t see them getting anywhere near a seat, but every party has to start somewhere, and I’ve definitely seen worse.