Jones has boldly broken one of the strongest taboos at ABC and SBS TV news. Admissions that both Australia’s population growth rate and also its per capita immigration rate are exceptionally high by OECD standards have been rare indeed in recent decades —even though these are points that leap out from the ABS statistics, and would be among the most obvious pieces of information that any competent researcher would pass on to a presenter or producer contemplating a segment on population or on immigration. (Very high immigration is of course the main driver of Australia's population growth). The environmentalist Ralph Bennett described trying to get one ABC team to mention these points, and being told “You’re trying to get us to break a whole set of small-l liberal no-nos”.
Hence anyone brave enough to publicly criticise Australia’s sky-high immigration rates could be represented as a naive eccentric with, very likely, some nasty motivation for wanting to criticise immigration. (A favorite trick was to claim that they must "hate immigrants".) By contrast, business lobby-groups with obvious vested interests in population growth were treated as impartial experts, and no right of reply to their claims was usually offered. Big Australia ideologues like George Megalogenis and Bernard Salt were often mis-presented as middle-of-the-road authorities.
But how is the ABC to make up to us for 30 years of intelligent national discussion that we have been denied?
And note Jones's exact phrasing:
Next Monday on QandA, a close look at our booming population. Australia now has the fastest rate of population growth in the developed world, but are we equipped to deal with 39 million Australians by 2050?
There are two potential fudges here: first, the pretence that Australia's rate of population growth has only recently become exceptional, and second, fatalism, i.e. the pretence that sky-high immigration is inevitable (or is divinely ordained, or is determined by the labour market, or can't be reduced because our immigrants are refugees). Don't be surprised if the producer and panellists have tricks like this up their sleeves.
After all, rapid population growth is the background cause if not indeed the effective initiating cause of many if not most of the problems their program aims to investigate; and a single program devoted to its effects will be no compensation for decades of neglect and denial of the issue.