The Coalition's Senate vote against an Australian Greens' motion for a national inquiry into population is a somersault on previous statements.
"In March, the Opposition immigration spokesperson Scott Morrison supported the Greens' call for an independent inquiry," said Australian Greens leader Bob Brown.
"Mr Morrison recognised the desire in the Australian community for debate on population.
"Now suddenly the Opposition has back-flipped and voted 'no' to an inquiry."
The Government also opposed the Greens' motion.
Motion calling for a population inquiry:
(1) That the Senate-
(i) global population is expected to grow from 6.8 billion people now to 9.2 billion in 2050,
(ii) Australia's population size and capacity to sustain population growth at the current rate is an issue of national significance that requires a national population policy and strategic plan as a matter of urgency,
(iii) as a wealthy nation, Australia is disproportionately able to influence and slow global population growth, and
(iv) there is growing public debate about the question of population size; and
(b) calls on the Prime Minister (Mr Rudd) to establish an independent national inquiry into Australia's population to 2050, which is to report by 1 July 2011.
That, in establishing the inquiry:
(a) the chair and panel of the inquiry be appointed with cross party support to ensure independence;
(b) sufficient funds are allocated to ensure that the inquiry holds public hearings in all capital cities and major regional centres across Australia; and
(c) the terms of reference for the inquiry include:
(i) the impact on Australia of the growing global population and how best Australia may affect it,
(ii) the development of a plan for a population that can be best supported in Australia within and then beyond the next 40 years, taking into account technology options, infrastructure, patterns of resource use and quality of life considerations,
(iii) the environmental, social and economic sustainability of Australia's population in the short-, medium- and long-term,
(iv) the value of a whole-of-government approach to population incorporating consideration of immigration and family policies,
(v) making recommendations of national policy options in relation to population including, taking into account regional and local perspectives, and
(vi) any related matters.