Bernard Salt

The Australian's April fool's joke

Until I saw the date of publication, 1 April 2008, the Australian newspaper's article , purportedly 'celebrating' Australia's current record high rate of population growth of 1.53per cent, up from 1.48 per cent the previous year, had me mystified.

The 1.53 per cent increase represesented an extra 316,000 in 2006-07. This comprised 10,000 extra births (273,000, up from 263,000) and 31,000 extra people gained through migration (178,000, up from 147,000), but also 1000 more deaths (135,000, up from 134,000).

The article features , who I now realise is not real, but rather an invented and extreme caricature of a pro-population growth demographer. Salt implausibly tells of a rivalry that has developed between Sydney and Melbourne, the respective inhabitants of which want to outdo each other in efforts to have the most congested traffic, the longest average commuting times and distances, the highest per-capita tollway charges, the most crowded trains, the highest number of stranded bus passengers, the highest water charges, council rates and electricity bills and longest hospital waiting lists.

In this competition, Sydney which only grew by 51,000 people last year has fallen behind Melbourne, which grew by 62,000. However, Sydney appears to be making up a lot of ground as it grew by only 36,000 the previous year. Mr Salt said, "They love their rivalry, Sydney and Melbourne, and it'll be interesting to see next year if Sydney keeps growing and can get back in front."

However, in relative and not absolute terms, the Gold Coast and Brisbane remained the fastest-growing areas, with an extra 17,000 and an extra 16,000 people respectively. Brisbane residents can now boast at having exceeded one million and eagerly look forward to the pleasures of when they achieve their next million.


nutty Mr Salt

rejoiced over what every thinking adult in this country recognises as a demographic and environmental disaster:

“It's everything coming together at the same time.

“Generation X has finally realised they can have babies; migration is very high, mainly because of the skills shortage and the need to fill jobs to keep the mining boom going; and the baby boomers aren't dying yet.”

The Australian's efforts to employ humour in order to draw the public's attention to the threat of over-population is to be applauded.