Tim Deyzel writes: Re. “Bob Carr: why our cities will really choke with population growth” (1 April, item 3). In the recent debate about Australia’s increasing population, it’s rarely stated why this is a good idea. Assuming GDP (or at least taxes) per capita remains the same, an increased population will allow us to:

  • Spend $16 billion (or more) to buy all 100 cold-war-mentality F35 fighters from the US and then some. These will allow us to defend ourselves from countries which don’t currently see us as a threat (all of them surely?) but will when we have 100 more lethal fighters and 40 million people!
  • Buy back more Murray-Darling water entitlements from hard-working farmers and divert this spare water to the additional domestic households clamooring for the same standard of living we currently enjoy.
  • Forgetting for a moment that as populations in the big cities grow (linearly), exponential growth in transport infrastructure is needed just to maintain current average commuting times — bigger populations could fund additional roads until the ‘Travelling Salesman Problem’ kicks in and it’s realised that bigger populations need more vehicles and all of our big cities slow to Sydney’s level of traffic madness (or worse).
  • Develop regional transport infrastructure so that every Australian family can fulfil that dream of having a cottage, cabin or even caravan on the coast. Geoscience Australia tells us we have 35,877km of coast (inc. Tasmania but no other islands). With 22 million of us that’s one person for every 1.6 metres of coast. Assume 2.5 people per cabin and that’s a whole four metres of The Great Australian Bight for your family. Until the population doubles and you’re back down to 2 metres.
  • Political parties will have larger bases from which to solicit donations — to spend on larger advertising budgets — just to reach the same ‘mind share’ (proportion) of jaded voters.

Ludicrous, mostly-circular arguments? Perhaps, but the reasons for increasing our population in environmental terms (sustainability, land clearing, species loss etc) are clear: there aren’t any. Are there any coherent reasons we need to increase the population for defence, economic, business, lifestyle or infrastructure development purposes? Unlikely.

The exact number of Egyptians who build the pyramids will never be known (perhaps 20 to 30 thousand for the Great Pyramid of Giza). The entire population of Egypt at the time was only about 1 million! Australia built the incredible Snowy Hydro scheme when our population was smaller than it is today. Surely we can build anything we put our minds to with 22 million people? Once we decide exactly what it is we want to build…


Qantas spokesman David Epstein writes: Re. “Qantas cooking the books on passenger numbers” (1 April, item 26). The headline of Ben Sandilands item in Thursday’s Crikey, and any suggestion that Qantas is inflating figures in its stock exchange filings, is completely wrong.

Qantas does not, and never has, “cooked its books”. Qantas takes its market disclosure responsibilities, and its relationships with current and prospective investors, extremely seriously.

It is irresponsible to state, quite incorrectly, that our traffic and capacity statistical reporting is anything other than appropriate — regardless of whether Crikey makes the claim directly, or by regurgitating an anonymous online chat room participant.

Jetstar domestic New Zealand operations have always been treated as international in our monthly reporting to the ASX. The same treatment was applied to Qantas’ New Zealand domestic operation. This is known to our investors and analysts.

For Australian Securities Exchange reporting, both Qantas and Jetstar count passengers on domestic “tag” services as international passengers, regardless of whether they are actually leaving the country. This is based on the ‘tag’ service carrying the same international flight number. This has been the case for some years.

Neither Jetstar or Qantas New Zealand domestic operations have ever featured in any Australian international airline market share calculations compiled by the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics.

South Australia:

Martin Gordon writes: Re. “Memo SA Liberal leader: with friends like these…” (1 April, item 17). The flippant and arrogant response of ALP apologists about the result of the SA election is informative. I am sure if the ALP was the loser of such an unfair result, we would never heard the end of it.

Whilst ALP supporters like clockwork refer to the one Liberal win in the last 35 years with a minority of the vote (1998 federally), I noticed that none refer to the 10 times in the same period in every mainland state and the NT and federally in 1990 that the ALP did. In SA the total is four and all to the ALP.

Not only did a majority of people fail to obtain a government of their choice, they would need to numbers some 55% of the vote to obtain that objective. The corrupt ALP tactics and have tainted the whole result, and questions do they have any objectives other than power?

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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