Although some politicians and media commentators would have you believe otherwise, ‘big Australia’ population growth is not about boats or refugees. It really boils down to planes.
Australia’s total annual intake of around 14,000 refugees makes up only four per cent of our recent annual population growth of around 350,000 people. More importantly, asylum seekers arriving by boat (around 5,000 per annum) make up less than two per cent. In any case, boat arrivals do not increase Australia's rate of population growth. This is because asylum seekers that are deemed to be genuine refugees are included within the total number of refugees we accept each year.
The population issue is really about an excess of permanent immigrants over permanent emigrants, combined with a temporary excess of births over deaths. At present, including our open borders arrangement with New Zealand, our excess of permanent immigrants is nearly 200,000 per annum. Our excess of births is presently around 150,000 per annum. However, with the current fertility rate of around two children per woman, births and deaths will naturally find equilibrium over coming decades.
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