Can anyone explain the full page ad that appeared in The Australian, SMH and Herald Sun yesterday headlined: “This week we celebrate the birth of a nation. Now we need births to save our nation”?

It
was placed by “a proud Australian at his own cost” – a Mr Gary Johnston
from Silverwater in Sydney. According to Mr Johnston, “Australia is
suffering an alarming decline in our birth rate. The current birth rate
is only 1.76 per fertile female. Just to maintain our present
population this needs to go up to 2.1 Just think 2.1 ­ Two Up. Why not
play Two Up?” And while “immigration is an essential part of this
country’s population,” that immigration “should augment our population,
not dominate it.”

The
ad also features an old recruitment poster from World War I, headlined
“A call from the Dardanelles” with a picture of a digger yelling
“Coo-ee ­ Won’t YOU help? Enlist now.” Ironically, if you drop the C,
you get “o-ee” which sounds a little like the noise I make when I’m
helping out my country.

There are two ways to look at Mr
Johnston’s ad. The first is that he’s calling on Australians to have
more more sex to help ensure our population doesn’t decline. The other
way to look at the ad is that Mr Johnston is simply telling Australians
to get f*cked, albeit in a roundabout way.

For those trying to
place Gary Johnston, he was the owner of Jaycar Electronics (now known
as Electus Distribution). He was a key figure in the famous 1978 April
Fools joke which saw Dick Smith fund the towing of a plastic iceberg
into Sydney Harbour. Which begs the question: is this another April
Fool’s joke and an ageing Mr Johnston has simply got his dates
confused? If not, should a public guardian be appointed to stop him
frittering away his millions on crazy schemes to promote people having
sex?

Whatever the truth behind the ad, it all seems a little
odd. Mr Johnston argues: “The future of our country is really in our
hands.” I actually think that might be part of the problem. I also have
to take issue with Mr Johnston’s comment, “Whatever the child [you end
up having] may be ­ a plumber, hairdresser, pilot or brain surgeon ­ it
doesn’t really matter.” What if my child turns out to be a sociopath?
Or a young Liberal?

Peter Fray

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