Friday 08 Oct 2021 | 04:37 | SYDNEY
Friday 08 Oct 2021 | 04:37 | SYDNEY

Population: The wisdom of crowded


Andrew Carr


17 May 2011 08:19

The debate about Australia's population is largely focused on issues such as infrastructure, social cohesion and environmental impact. But there's also a national security perspective.

As both Hugh White (Power Shift) and Michael Wesley (There goes the neighbourhood) note, power in the 21st century is increasingly a function of size.

A well known relationship to ancient scholars, the Industrial Revolution broke the pattern, enabling smaller Western nations to offset their size with a technological edge. America's post WWII hegemony also created rule-based institutions that further enabled smaller nations, such as Australia, to 'punch above our weight'.

But nature has a way of re-asserting itself. So, while Australia's defence will rest on its alliance relationships and technological capability, a larger population offers a bigger economy, bigger defence force, stronger R&D and hopefully a better deterrent. It doesn't guarantee our security, but it does help.

A larger population offers many challenges from housing and transport to resources and environmental impact. But how we choose also affects our position in the world, and in the Asian Century, bigger is safer.

Photo by Flickr user NYCviaRachel.