And he’s putting his money where his mouth is. Dick Smith needs no introduction to most Australians. He is a famous patriot, adventurer, businessman and philanthropist: An Australian “living treasure” and perhaps the most admired person in the country.

His fear about Australia being able to feed a much larger popuulation is misplaced but there is no doubt that a much larger population would seriously degrade the quality of life in Australia. Recent large population increases have already done so — as most Australians find every day with slower and slower trips to work on congested roads

MILLIONAIRE former electronics guru Dick Smith will give $1 million cash to a young person who designs the best population plan for Australia.

The businessman yesterday was “delighted” that new Prime Minister Julia Gillard had announced she opposed a “Big Australia” and had created a ministry of sustainable population.

Mr Smith, fiercely opposed to immigration, said he would devote the rest of his life to educating other Australians, including politicians, about the need to keep the nation’s population from exploding.

“When we design an aircraft, it is built for 25 years of safety,” Mr Smith said. “But if we don’t have a safety plan for allowing the population to grow to 36 million by 2050, then we will all come crashing down. “That is why I am announcing a $1 million award for a person less than 25 years old to design a sustainability plan for our population,” he said.

The ABC will screen Mr Smith’s documentary on population in August, and the businessman said he would make other announcements at that time about incentives to limit the size of the nation.

There are now 22 million Australians and Mr Smith said if that number grew beyond 26 million, the nation could struggle to feed its own people. “I am going to commit the rest of my life to this issue, and to communicate to Australians that they need to wean themselves off constant growth in the economy, too,” he said.

Greater Melbourne grew by more than 93,000 people last year – the biggest increase of any capital, and fuelled by record high immigration.