The realisation that Australia has been growing too rapidly for too long is beginning to sink in.
Yes, Australia is a nation historically built on immigration. But times change…
Yes, migration adds to the gross domestic output of the economy, although it doesn’t necessarily make individual Aussies any better off.
And yes, migrants tend to be younger, so high levels of migration can slow the dreaded ‘ageing population’ scenario. But migrants age as well, so as a solution, this is merely kicking the can down the road.
In the meantime, Australia’s capital cities have seen their populations explode resulting in packed public transport and logjammed freeways.
New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian, for one, believes that enough is enough.
Berejiklian gunning to pop the population balloon
As AAP reports, Berejiklian plans to meet this week with Prime Minister Scott Morrison along with other state leaders at the Council of Australian Governments in Adelaide. The attendees will outline and discuss their concerns regarding population and migration policies.
At the top of her list of proposed changes, Berejiklian is vying for states having more impact on deciding where and to what extent federal infrastructure funding is spent.
Ahead of this meeting, Berejiklian stated:
‘For far too long, NSW has been burdened with ballooning population growth without us being properly consulted on the targets, where people will live and what services and infrastructure growing communities will need.
‘NSW has the largest infrastructure pipeline in the nation but we are still playing catch up and I want us to be ahead of the game.’
Berejiklian is calling for greater correlation between federal infrastructure funds and population needs. In its current state, Berejiklian believes the government is working ‘overtime’ to keep up with the ever expanding population, barely keeping pace.
But enough is enough. According to AAP, Berejiklian will insist at the meeting for complete discretion on federal infrastructure spending in the future, to ensure it aligns with what her growing state needs.
And admittedly, her tactic makes perfect sense. As does her proposed idea for future migrant intake.
Set a population goal, and aim towards it
As AAP understands, Berejiklian will be using Canada’s migration system as a model which Australia could potentially adopt.
In the maple country, provinces have more say in determining the level of migration intake into their region. This has apparently helped population in the provinces stay at a reasonable growth rate.
Berejiklian will also propose adding incentive to international students to undergo their study in regional universities, to further combat the population congestion in Australia’s major cities.
Earlier this year, the NSW premier called to slash her state’s migrant intake by 50%, to 45,000 migrants a year until a full-fledged population policy is set up. This was the rough intake during the Howard-era of government.
And with regards to this population policy, it seems logical to have a clear population growth figure to work towards. Do we want an extra 30 million, or 100 million? How long do we want it to take to reach this figure?
Whatever the answer to these questions are, we should decide as a nation and set an accurate policy that will lead us to this desired end goal.
Sure, this may be the beginning of an Australia-wide population debate. But let’s face it…
It makes a lot more sense than the current blind growth towards no kind of ideal future.
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