Blast from the Past
Wednesday, 30 October 2002
The main editorial in today's Oz proclaims that All Australians are affected by demographics. There's nothing like starting the day with a good non-sequitur. The Oz goes on to warn us that:
As politicians scramble to find policy responses to the falling birth rate, academics, bureaucrats, health professionals and social commentators are trying to come to grips with its causes. But the more sensible observers are united on one point: if the demographic trend is to be reversed, or at least halted, community attitudes will have to change. Australians, as individuals, couples, families and as members of society have a choice. The challenge is to get enough people interested in an issue that affects us all, whatever our age or personal circumstances.
Reading on, it's pretty clear what the leader writer thinks that choice should be - Australia desparately needs more rug-rats. Otherwise, as other commentators on the issue have pointed out, our only alternative is to import a lot of funny brown and yellow people, some of whom are fanatically devoted to wearing towels on their heads, to ensure that the taxpayers of today will continue to enjoy an acceptable lifestyle when they become the pensioners of tomorrow. God forbid that anyone should be forced to sell up the family home in Double Bay or South Yarra because we can't afford to provide them with Retinol and Zoloft on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.
So now we need to convince young couples everywhere that they should live on the edge once in a while and leave the condom in the packet. If this is true, I think we're cactus - unless we can manage a change of government at the next election. Changing community attitudes to encourage more procreation sounds a lot like an exercise in social engineering and we know that no-one on the conservative side of politics would dirty their hands with that.