NUMBER CRUNCH: Australia is due to hit 49 million people in just under 50 years' time.
NUMBER CRUNCH: Australia is due to hit 49 million people in just under 50 years' time. AAP/Erik Anderson

Preparing for Big Australia

WE ARE hurtling towards too many Australians and no one seems to care.

The ABS reported this week it expects us to hit 49 million people in just under 50 years' time. The number is staggering and there are no signs anyone is getting ready for it.

To give you an idea of the pace of 'Big Australia', we had just 18 million people 20 years ago and hit 25 million people years before the government predicted. This makes it far more likely we will hit 49 million people much faster than the predicted 50 years.

But what are we doing to prepare?

We don't build dams to save water, we build roads that barely improve traffic now, and when was the last time you saw someone build a new school from scratch?

Instead, we put Band-Aid over Band-Aid and the distance between CBD and suburb, let alone capitals and regional centres, grows.

We are always going to grow. People have babies and people want to move here, which is great. But we need some serious heads to start making the hard decisions.

We can't build for the future at the same time as giving in to the NIMBY (Not In My Backyard) brigade at every turn, which fights every development. We can't keep cramming people into the outer suburbs hoping they'll just get along.

And we can't ignore the huge problems in our education system that is poised to pump out millions more kids who are fully versed in unconscious gender bias, but can't add up with a calculator.

This is why we must fight to bring some common sense back to the classroom and reality back to universities. For too long the crazies have taken over these institutions and we need government with the guts to take on the teacher unions and refocus education.

Firstly, we should pay teachers way more, but they need to earn it with performance pay and constant improvement of their skills, not just years of service.

Secondly, we need a national inquiry into the curriculum and need to re-establish the concept of passing and failing kids.

For too long we have pumped out kids totally unprepared for the challenges of life and the reality of not always getting what they want.

And finally, we need to empower teachers to take control of their classrooms. Teachers need to know they can pull a kid's earphones out without someone screaming assault.

Parents need to play their part too and instil a rigid respect for authority and stop questioning or trying to appeal every little decision that doesn't go their kid's way.

All this teaches them to do is always push back and never accept the consequences of their own actions.

Make no mistake, like it or loathe it, Big Australia is coming and for it to look anything like the one we love, we need to start making the big calls and having the big fights now.

Paul Murray is a broadcaster with Sky News. He can be seen on Paul Murray LIVE each Sunday to Thursday 9-11pm AEDT on Foxtel channels 103 and 600, and Sky News on WIN