But the details are disappointing. It turns out that the focus of many Australians is on limiting family size rather than immigration levels:
Families should have no more than two children to limit their environmental impact, one in three Australian say...
The Australian National University survey found most Australians want the population to stay at or below current levels, suggesting Julia Gillard hit the right note by rejecting Kevin Rudd's "big Australia" push.
Just 44 per cent of respondents favoured population growth.
About 52 per cent said Australia had enough people already, and further population growth would harm the environment, push up house prices and place pressure on water resources.
But there were also concerns that skills shortages could hold back the economy, with 83 per cent of respondents calling for more skilled migrants to be allowed into Australia.
That really is a losing combination of ideas. First, aiming for each couple to have two children will not lead to stable population growth, but to massive population loss.
To explain why, just consider my own family. Both myself and two siblings have married and had the standard two children. But one of my brothers hasn't married and looks unlikely to do so. So the four of us have produced six children. That's a fertility rate of 1.5. If that were the standard, then Australia would lose a quarter of its population (initially 5 million people) every generation.
In short, to have stable population growth you need a large percentage of couples to have 3 children to make up for those having none. Limiting families to 2 children won't work.
Perhaps someone will object at this point, by claiming that it would be a good thing for the environment if the population were to trend downward.
But that argument doesn't work either. The open borders lobby uses the below replacement fertility statistics to justify massive immigration into Australia. And it is open borders which is the much greater environmental threat in the long term than the already very modest family size we have in Australia.
In other words, we need at the very least to get to replacement fertility levels in this country if we are to take on the open borders lobby. There is no way that the business lobby would accept a situation of massive population loss through sub replacement fertility.
Finally, it shows a loss of faith in ourselves to want to limit population growth by restricting family size, whilst at the same time calling for more immigration. That's like saying that there should be fewer of us, but more of everyone else.
The more spirited outlook is to train our own young to lead future economic growth.
Update: It seems that similar attitudes exist in Germany. I was reading an article on poverty in Germany, which found (unsurprisingly) that poverty was highest amongst single mothers and lowest amongst the standard family of dad, mum and two children.
One of the commenters at the site couldn't even bear the thought of a two child family. He wrote:
Those who don't have any children don't contribute to the further overpopulation and destruction of this planet. To protect the environment and to conserve resources, children ought to attract tax penalties.
That's how crazy it gets. Germany had a woeful fertility rate of 1.37 in the year 2007. It's a nation which desperately needs more children. And yet our German commenter wants to apply tax penalties to those few Germans who are actually having children.
I'm generally supportive of environmentalism, but I fear that there are some in the West who will use it to express their own nihilistic tendencies.