Proposal to cap Australias population below historical growth levels a mistake

30 April 2010

Australia would be making a serious mistake if any government attempted to cap the annual rate of population growth to half its historical level and keep numbers under 30 million at 2050, according to the Urban Taskforce.

The Taskforces chief executive, Aaron Gadiel, said that Australia had grown at an average annual rate of 1.4 per cent over the last 40 years.


If a government were to try and limit Australias population to less than 30 million by 2050, the average annual growth rate would plummet to just 0.7 per cent half its historical level of 1.4 per cent, Mr Gadiel said.


The current Federal governments projection of 35.9 million people in 2050 already assumes a 14 per cent cut in our historical rate of population growth to just 1.2 per cent a year.


Any reduction to our nations rate of population growth puts at risk the very things that have made Australia what it is today.


The Coalition policy paper released yesterday, says that a Howard government 2007 population projection of 29 million by 2047 was the last point of consensus on population issues.


The paper proposes a new system of population targeting by the Federal Government.


The policy paper doesnt recognise the role increased population plays in funding improvements to infrastructure, Mr Gadiel said.


More people mean a larger tax base for every level of government more populous cities are better able to fund high quality efficient public transport services.


Well never see major new expansions in public transport infrastructure if our capital cities arent able to grow.


Mr Gadiel said capping Australias population was unlikely to avoid surges in population in particular cities in any event.


Australians cant be moved around like pieces on a chess board, he said.


As our population ages, without a strong immigration program, we can expect significant labour shortages in key parts of our economy, including major capital cities.


Businesses in these cities will be forced to offer whatever they can afford to attract people from other parts of Australia.


Government-imposed caps on population are unlikely to kerb stresses on major cities and are instead likely to further drain rural and regional areas of people.


Mr Gadiel said that the 2010 Intergenerational Report did contain higher population projections than those in the 2007 report favoured by the Coalition policy paper (34.9 million in 2047, compared with 28.5 million).


This reflects higher fertility rates, lower death rates and higher net overseas migration with a slightly younger age distribution, over the next 40 years, Mr Gadiel said.


The increased population projections were accompanied by an estimate that the economy would by 17 per cent larger by 204647 than was projected in 2007.


Our population will grow because Australian women, on average, give birth to 1.9 children each up from 1.7 in the 2007 estimates, Mr Gadiel said.


It will grow because people aged 60 in 2050 are projected to live an average of 5-6 years longer than those aged 60 in 2010.


It will also grow because Australia attracts talented and skilled workers from all over the globe.


These are all fundamentally good things.


Mr Gadiel said, the growth of Australian society is inevitable and essential to our nations future.


A restrictive population target would aggravate the problems associated with an aging population, such as the greater demands for publicly funded social services, he said.


Immigrants help deal with the challenges of an ageing population because they are, on average, younger than the population already here.


Mr Gadiel said that the Urban Taskforces Going Nowhere report, released this week, shows what happened under the ‘Sydney-is-full’ policies pursued in the late 1990s.


The last thing we all need is an ‘Australia-is-full’ policy.”


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



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