You should question the sanity of anyone who welcomes rapid growth of Australia’s population from the present 21.5 million to an estimated 35 million by 2050. Our population is already growing faster than at any time since the post-war baby boom of the 1950’s but, this time it is largely due to immigration, with an intake of 97,000 in the September quarter of 2009 alone.
Several economists and many businesses enthusiastically support Australia having a population of 35 million. They claim this is necessary for our future prosperity and security. Continuous population increase would produce growth in demand for goods and services, providing on-going stimulus to the economy. A higher population is needed to generate public revenues needed to provide social services, particularly for an ageing population and to improve national productivity.
These claims are made without evidence that these outcomes would be achieved or that population growth would be of net benefit to Australia or for that matter the rest of the world. These assertions are made in the absence of a well thought out population model addressing social, economic and environmental considerations.
They are made in the absence of a coherent population policy and without providing the public with the facts needed for informed public debate. They are made without considering other ways of enhancing productivity. The need for sustainability and maintaining present living standards are given little if any consideration.
Less sanguine about rapid population growth are those who doubt the ability of Australia to cope with it or avoid adverse socio-economic outcomes. A projected growth rate of 65 per cent over the next 40 years is very high when compared with projected global growth of 38 per cent, widely regarded as unsustainable because of declining supplies of food, water and other resources.
We should be concerned by the liaises faire attitude taken by those who see only benefits or commercial gain while ignoring problems associated with a rapid influx of migrants. This prompts a call for government immigration policy to be based on a coherent population plan addressing the following considerations, among others.
- Avoid population pressure on our major cities where migrants tend to settle, where housing and infrastructure is limited.
- Discourage development of enclaves of language and religious communities that remain insular and tend to resist integration.
- Ensure that immigrants are composed of social and cultural groups that are largely compatible with Australian norms or can be easily adopted by them.
- Establish bona-fides and background of all immigrants to eliminate those with criminal background or extreme views which may pose a threat to law and order.
- Adhere to targets which ensure that net migration plus net resident population increase results in economic and environmental sustainability.
- Maintain balance in the present composition of the Australian population.
In summary, it is necessary for government to implement a more measured immigration program, particularly in terms of numbers. An important consideration is ability and willingness of those granted residency to “integrate” and adopt values regarded by the majority in the Australian community as acceptable norms.
Achieving a population of 35 million by 2050 means that on average the population will increase by a net 330,000 a year for the next 40 years. The implications of such an increase are clear, the more obvious being that each year it will be necessary to:
- Build 65,000 - 70,000 new dwellings for rental or sale.
- Construct roads, water, drainage and electricity mains with connections to each of these dwellings.
- Increase electricity generation, treatment of sewage, water storage and associated reticulation.
- Provide public transport to the areas where those dwellings are built.
- Build and staff additional hospitals, schools, and other services.
- The multiplier effects of all of the above, requiring establishment of new and expansion of existing businesses.
- Ensure that employment opportunities are available in appropriate areas.
- Increase national production and supply of food by 1.7 per cent every year for 40 years.
- Supply other goods and services such as training, retail outlets, increased policing, community facilities etc.
Anyone giving assurances that Federal, State and local governments have planned for this expansion is not to be believed. Failure to plan to deal with the effects of rapid population increase are already being experienced, particularly in our capital cities.
The result is a shortfall of more than 100,000 dwellings and inflated housing prices, health services which can no longer cope, traffic congestion, unreliable, overcrowded public transport, higher prices for food and other household goods, an increase in pockets of unemployment and poverty - and the list goes on.
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