At the 50th annual general meeting of the Australian Conservation Foundation a motion calling ‘that the executive of the ACF open up discussion by publication of a paper setting out the ACF position on immigration and calling for comment to be published in a special edition of Habitat’ was defeated.
The motion was moved by myself with the support of Jennie Goldie, Denis McCormack, Mark O’Connor, Geoff Mosley. George Phair and Katherine Betts. In the debate there were several speakers; nobody directly opposed the motion. However the voting was two to one against (scrutinised by myself and others), indicating that even if in the unlikely event all current members of the executive voted against, there was also a substantial silent number of attendees against more than equal to those in favour.
While the arguments for the motion were not presented at the meeting as part of the motion they had been circulated previously with notice of meeting and would have been read by all those interested. There was also available ‘View ACF's Environmental Policy 51 – Population and Demographic Change’, which is no longer on the ACF website, pending review.
The supporting arguments were:
The equation to which all environmentalists subscribe is
I = P x A x T (Impact = Population x Affluence x Technology)
The ACF has deleted all reference to population in its publications, except for
Be pursuing a population stabilisation trajectory
as part of the ACF Strategic Plan 2011-2020. No action has take[sic] place on this item in recent years; since adoption of a modified policy on immigration in 2009, which was no longer on the ACF website, pending a review of past policies, but will be reinstated.
Despite attempts by Geoff Mosley in 2013 and again in conjunction with Mark O’Connor in 2014 at meetings of Council to raise the issue, Council rejected any change of policy or practice. In February 2016 the ACF Chief Executive Officer issued a ten point plan for the ACF which did not mention population.
The ACF has again chosen to ignore the immigration target for Australia remaining about 200,000 pa, nearly the population of Hobart. Many immigrants come from developing countries who cannot afford to lose their brightest and best after going to the expense of training them. There have been articles pointing out that immigration raises the GDP, but does little for GDP per capita. Surveys show that the majority of Australians think that immigration is too high.
The motion called for nothing more than debate about immigration. The refusal of members to even debate immigration indicates a closed mind: either they think that increasing the population by more than the natural increase is a good thing or they simply do not wish to be involved in a debate about it - too distasteful?
The ACF has always received extra with my subscription notice because they support many campaigns of merit, such as closing down coal fired electricity generators. However from now on, either my membership will be limited to the minimum, to provide a window on the progress of the ACF, or I simply give up on them.