In “Dick Smith and Graham Turner call for small population” (AFR 14th August 2014) Entrepreneurs Dick Smith and Flight Centre founder Graham Turner say Australia must abandon unending economic growth because a ‘Big Australia’ is unsustainable.
But one could also argue good economics has never endorsed a theory of endless growth, but rather aims to find the best most economical outcomes. Although orthodox economics, supportive of market freedom, but subject to prudential controls is suggested by most economists to be an important factor in improved standards of living, the real driver has been the advancement of scientific and technological knowledge. In this regard the determinant for the level of population that Australia can support, without a diminution in living standards will depend on how effective the nation is in reducing waste and improving productivity. Smarter outcomes in line with finite resources to determine optimum future population limits and migration policy should be the subject of a national debate, as was suggested by Smith and Turner.