New party to keep a close watch over population, immigration
William Bourke. Photo: Supplied
Population growth is ''causing or exacerbating all of Australia's major problems'', according to a new political party created for the September election.
The Stable Population Party wants immigration numbers limited to cover the number of Australians emigrating every year. It says zero net migration would cut the annual migration tally by 170,000.
William Bourke, the leader of the party that will field Senate candidates in every state and territory, said the party would also run candidates in ''strategic'' seats, including those held by Population and Communities Minister Tony Burke, and former immigration minister Philip Ruddock.
He said the party had more than 700 members, who came from broad philosophical backgrounds, including former members of the Liberals, Labor and the Greens.
Mr Bourke stressed the party was not anti-immigration, and opposed limiting immigration on ''racial or religious'' grounds. ''We're not advocating cutting ourselves off from the world, we're committed to an open and tolerant Australia,'' he said. ''It's a global leadership role we want to take in terms of promoting population stabilisation.''
But the party would make waves with Australia's Kiwi cousins by abolishing the Trans-Tasman Travel Arrangement, which allows Kiwis to live and work in Australia without being considered in the annual migration program.
More than 60,000 New Zealanders moved to Australia in this way in 2011-12, and more than 647,860 New Zealand citizens call Australia home under the agreement. ''It's a lose-lose arrangement because New Zealand is often losing their best and brightest,'' Mr Bourke said. ''This is bad for New Zealand. But it's also bad for Australia. We are experiencing major population growth problems.''
Other ways the party would cut population levels would be to limit the baby bonus and paid parental leave to the first two babies a woman bears, and to ensure skilled immigration levels exceeds skilled emigration.