Urban traffic congestion sign saying Expect Delays

Treasurers Tackle Australia’s Rampant Population Growth

In 1970 Australia’s population stood at 12.5 million people.

Last year that number exceeded 25 million. At this rate of growth, Australia will reach 50 million people by 2068…and 100 million by 2117.

Now that may sound a long way off. But ever more Aussies are realising this is not the congested, urbanised future nation they want to leave to their children and grandchildren.

Even today, residents of the capital cities are struggling with the rapidly surging population. Public transport, roads, and public services are already stretched beyond their limits. And housing costs are putting homeownership out of reach for many hardworking families.

Little wonder then that a recent survey conducted by the Australian National University showed only 30.4% of Aussies were in favour of further growth.

And this message is finally getting through to the government.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg is meeting with his state and territory fellows to address how best to manage Australia’s future growth, according to the Australian Associated Press.

The meeting, taking place in Canberra this morning, will address how better infrastructure and a better distribution of people to the regions could help the big cities from getting mired in perpetual gridlock.

Speaking to ABC Radio National this morning, Frydenberg stated:

We have the fifth fastest rate of population growth in the OECD and we’re seeing that concentrated in our big cities. We need to send people where the jobs are, and we need to cooperate across state and territories.

Frydenberg noted that Australia’s permanent migration number is capped at an annual rate of 190,000 people. But he said only about 160,000 new migrants per year were waved in over the past several years.

A bit of quick maths will tell you that still adds up to roughly a million new migrants arriving every six years. To put that in perspective, that’s like adding a new Adelaide every seven years. And this figure doesn’t even take natural growth (from citizens having children) and the growth in temporary work and study visas into account.

Free Report: The unexpected driving factor behind Australia’s ‘Ticking Timebomb’.

Frydenberg admits past governments haven’t planned for the future

This hardly sounds like a long-term sustainable growth trajectory.

But when asked whether the migration cap should be lowered, Frydenberg wouldn’t take the bait:

Well let’s look year by year as to what are the needs across the community, but certainly there are population pressures that are contributing to congestion in our major cities.

Two-thirds of our migration has been going to Melbourne, to Sydney and to southeast Queensland. And the infrastructure hasn’t kept up with those needs and that is what we’ll be discussing today.

Frydenberg did admit that past governments hadn’t planned well for the future. He noted Australia reached the 25 million resident milestone far earlier than originally forecast.

With runaway growth so long ignored by our pollies, it’s heartening to see the issue finally gaining some attention at the state and federal levels.

The question now is if our politicians can stand up to the range of vested interests continuing to push for an ever-bigger Australia?

We hope so. But if they can’t, it appears that public sentiment could quickly turn against them.

Free report: Why Australia’s three-decade, recession-free ‘miracle economy’ is nothing more than a ticking timebomb. Download now.

Bernd Struben

Bernd Struben

Bernd Struben is the lead editor at The Australian Tribune. Bernd makes use of his extensive network to bring you the top stories you need to know about each day. Stories the mainstream may miss. Or bury somewhere you’re unlikely to ever read them. Bernd studied aerospace engineering and journalism at the University of Michigan, before graduating with a degree in economics. Over the past two decades he’s worked in media, management, and finance in the US, the Caribbean, Europe, and Australia. His other role, as the editor of the Port Phillip Insider, puts him in a unique position to read Australia’s most exclusive financial advice. Some of which he shares with readers of The Australian Tribune for free.
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