Australia’s population crisis

Published: 12 March 2018

Sydney traffic at a peak-hour standstill

Politicians talk of curbing immigration as we break through 25 million

Sydney traffic at a peak-hour standstill
Image © 2013 AAP Image/Dean Lewins

In July 1998, the Australian Bureau of Statistics released their projections for population growth through to 2051. They estimated that by the end of that period of just over 50 years, Australia’s population would have grown from 18.5 million to around 25 million.

But Australia has already hit the 25 million mark, and our population growth is showing no signs of slowing. And it’s taken governments around the country by surprise, with infrastructure under strain.

Schools are struggling to cope with increased numbers, with few new schools being built to cope with the increased demand. And traffic congestion, particularly in the urban hotspots of Sydney and Melbourne, is getting to breaking point.

There’s three major contributing factors: longer lifespans, higher birth rates, and increased immigration.

NSW Labor leader Luke Foley said late last week that while the commonwealth reaps the benefits of higher immigration, the states are left to wear the costs.

His comments echoed a recent call by former prime minister Tony Abbott for a closer look at immigration, including cuts to current migration rates.

"The migration intake has to be set, not simply by the commonwealth government alone any more, but by all Australian governments working jointly, given the burden the states bear in having to pay for the infrastructure," he told the Weekend Australian.

The Labor leader wants a national population policy, with migration intake set on a five-yearly basis, and yearly discussions between the commonwealth and the states.

“That would be very different to now and all the factors the states would bring to the table are the pressures we see in our state capital every day — which is congested roads, congested trains, congested buses, groaning under the weight of a surging population.”

However Mr Foley added that the policy should be based on population needs rather than ethnic background.

“Multiculturalism is a great Australian success story and we should never have a bar of the Hansonites wanting to take us back to some racially discriminatory migration policy,” he said.

with AAP
© 2018 AAP