Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Peter Greste

The trial of Peter Greste has been a farce. He was guilty of no more than doing his job as a reporter, and no evidence was led which justified either the guilty verdict or the sentence he received.
I support the Australian Government’s attempts to have Peter Greste freed through the use of diplomatic channels and international fora such as the United Nations. If the use of diplomatic channels does not result in his being released, we need to examine our present areas of bilateral co-operation with Egypt and consider whether some of them should be suspended until Peter Greste is released.

The depths to which the rule of law has sunk is a sad consequence of Egypt’s out of control population growth.

In 1948 Egypt’s population was less than 20 million, less than Australia is now. It added a further 20 million by 1975, another 20 million by 1994, and another 20 million to reach 80 million by 2011. The UN says that continuing high fertility rates will see Egypt reach 100 million by 2025 and 140 million by 2050.

In fact Egypt’s birth rate for the last three years exceeds the UN’s “high” projections. The number of births in the 1990s was 1.6 million on average. This increased to around 1.8 million births in the first decade of this century. There were 2.4 million births in 2011 and 2.6 million in 2012, according to the Central Agency for Public Mobilisation and Statistics. Back in 1950 Egypt had the same number of births as Italy. By 1977 it had the same number as Italy and France combined. By 2000 it matched the combined total of Italy, France and Spain, and by 2012 the combined total of Italy, France, Spain and the United Kingdom.
The consequences of this rapid population growth are plain for all to see – violent, debilitating conflict over access to scarce resources. The world’s leaders need to tell Egypt’s leaders that they need to stop focussing on today’s battles for just long enough to draw attention to the underlying problem, and the need to reduce their birth rate to more traditional levels. If they do not, it is entirely predictable that there will be more conflict and misery in future, not less. It is also predictable that Egypt will make no progress towards becoming a vibrant pluralist democracy where the rule of law, freedom of speech, and proper protection for women and minorities is the natural order.

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