Cutting immigration will not solve urban congestion

25 July 2010

Cutting immigration will not solve urban congestion, according to Urban Taskforce.

The Taskforces chief executive, Aaron Gadiel, said congestion in our cities flows from inadequate public investment and planning restrictions on privately funded housing, retail and office development.


Population growth is not the problem a lack of new infrastructure and misdirected town planning policies are the real culprits, Mr Gadiel.


In this election campaign, Western Sydney has been often cited as a region suffering from population growth.


Yet in the five years to June 2009, Sydney only saw an annual population increase of 1.3 per cent a year, slower than the national growth rate of 1.8 per cent.


The extra 290,000 people accommodated in Sydney over the last five years, has been dwarfed by Melbourne which has been growing faster than any other city or region.


Melbourne has gained 370,000 people over the last five years thats 2 per cent growth a year.


Brisbane has added 219,000 people in five years, with an annual growth rate of 2.3 per cent, and Perth has added 199,000 people with an annual growth rate of 2.6 per cent.


While Sydney is clearly a congested city, its rate of population growth is modest when compared with the rest of Australia.


Within the three largest capital cities, the most rapid increases in population have been in the inner suburbs, not the outer suburban areas, like Western Sydney.


Mr Gadiel said that congestion hot spots occurred when there was insufficient housing, a lack of investment in roads and public transport and restrictions on new retail precincts to service community needs.


Sydney is a perfect case study on what-not-to-do at a national level, he said.


Prior to the dramatic rise in property prices in the late 1990s and early 2000s, NSW maintained a steady share of national net overseas migration, at about 42 per cent.


Over the past decade, the NSW share of overseas migration has fallen substantially, settling at about 30 per cent over the past three years.


The cut in Sydneys share of immigration has done nothing to make Sydney a better place in fact its got worse.


By cutting immigration, local and state governments have been denied the benefit of new taxpayers and businesses have been denied the opportunity to employ new skilled workers.


This has driven economic activity interstate as a result governments have had even less money to invest in making Sydney better.


Declaring a city or a country ˜full drives away both private and public investment and is a sure-fire way to bring about a decline.


Mr Gadiel said that major cities would seem less crowded if the private sector was given more flexibility to:

  • build apartments near major employment centres and transport hubs reducing the need for people to travel long distances by car;
  • build new suburbs on the edge of existing cities – reducing upward pressure on house prices;
  • build new convenient retail precincts where people live and actually want to shop – reducing traffic congestion around existing shopping centres; and
  • build more workplaces across cities, including outer suburban locations – reducing the need to commute long distances to get to work.


There is now a real concern that population control policies advocated by both major political parties will deny our major cities desperately needed workers and taxpayers, Mr Gadiel said.


The Urban Taskforce is a property development industry group, representing Australias most prominent property developers and equity financiers.


For every $1 million in construction expenditure, 27 jobs are created throughout the broader economy.


The construction activity made possible by property developers contributes $78 billion to the national economy each year and creates 849,000 direct jobs.



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