Dick Smith today has announced a prize (very dubiously called, The Wilberforce Award – see more below) of one million dollars to be awarded to a person aged under 30 who can devise a means of reducing Australia’s population.
Smith’s objection to a higher population is a crazy mixture of concerns about the environment, social amenity and excessive consumerism.
I’m not sure anyone has pointed out to him that in the near term at least, Australia’s population and labour force will continue to grow even if a complete moratorium were placed on permanent and temporary immigration. Without GDP growth, therefore, unemployment would quickly rise assuming that real wages did not fall to deal with this new state. So Dick Smith for unemployment needs to be part of his motto.
As to using the Wilberforce name, this really is a bridge too far. Born a well-t0-do aristocrat, Wilberforce led an indolent and pointless life until being converted to the anti-slavery cause within an Evangelical Christian framework. He worked tirelessly for over forty years to achieve the abolition of slavery in Britain. To link his name to a quest to reduce Australia’s population (and I guess we can all think of some quite rapid means) is quite shocking, in my opinion. (See William Haig’s wonderful biography of William Wilberforce.)