I have mixed feelings about this. I have read that Australia is a uniquely fragile ecosystem that has faced external threats, and that Australia is swelling with immigrants and that there is going to be natural desire to preserve the status quo.
This is how I see it. Other Oz A2Kers are, of course, are free to interpret things differently. Also to add their own perspectives.:
A map of Australia. Those green bits around the edges (particularly around the SE coast, are where most people live, are the are (not surprisingly) the most populated areas. Most of the continent is is (till now) uninhabitable to Australians or to potential immigrants.
For the past 10+ years the most populous (southern SE) parts of the continent have experienced severe drought. Water catchments to cities like Melbourne (the example I know best) are now reduced to something like 34% capacity (the last statistics I saw). To accommodate the rapidly growing needs of the biggest growth in population we've ever experienced (3 million, with anticipated maximum of 7 million (!) ), amongst other "measures", water is being diverted to the city from country rivers (to the detriment of people who live & work in those regions, say nothing of the detrimental effects on the natural environment & wildlife, etc .. ask dadpad about this. He knows alot more about it than I do) As well, the state government has embarked upon a hugely expensive & unpopular desalination plant project with a private company, which is going to make the cost of water, down the line, much more expensive for ordinary people, say nothing of sucking up huge quantities of tax payers' money indefinitely.
Water is just one aspect of this. Consider the energy needs (& resultant pollution) of this huge increase in population. At a time when we are all considering ways of reducing our "carbon foot print". Are we to continue to rely on brown coal (extremely polluting) for our energy needs, or, as some are suggesting, do we "go nuclear"? What is our responsibility then, regarding nuclear waste? These are just some of the issues that need to be seriously considered.
Speaking of the impact of rapid development, we now have areas called "the green wedges" (land around what used
to be the city perimeter & designated "green") under threat as a result of the housing boom. In my own suburb, the last remaining areas of of natural parkland are under threat of development. Saying nothing of a number of cases of hugely inappropriate developments.
I could go on & on about the impact on cities like Melbourne (which are the places where the new migrants wish to settle, because of work opportunities, understandably). You could argue that the problem is poor planning & I'd agree with you. But this is what we're dealing with .. without any community consultation, any government "pronouncements". It's just happening, apparently because it's good for business (eg we are experiencing a housing boom, in fact as a result of the incredible demand many new potential local home buyers can no longer afford home ownership, but that's another issue.) Yes, the huge numbers of immigrants have helped our economy survive the worst of the recession, better than many, by the sounds of it. But to many of us, the long-term impact on the environment & the quality of life for ordinary people in cities like Melbourne appear not to have not been a serious consideration at all. How long can we expect our economy to be based on a notion of endless
growth? It is not at all surprising to me that increasing numbers of people are calling for a debate on population.