What are the implications for a liberal democracy if political elites continue to allow (and pursue) high migrant intakes which many, perhaps most, voters do not want? To explore an answer to this question we need first to pause to consider the nature of liberal democracy, a polity based on the principles of freedom and universalistic rights for all citizens. But paradoxically it is based on largely illiberal principles of membership. Would it be possible to maintain a liberal polity with different membership rules, with or without the consent of the voters? And how is it that the consent of the votes can be so readily evaded when immigration-fuelled population growth is concerned? The idea of open borders and the idea that growth can be imposed on citizens by subterfuge both offer challenges to democracy. This essay explores these ideas and the way in which they can help us understand the current politics of population growth in Australia.