Population growth and Infrastructure in Australia: the catch-up illusion | Sustainable Population Australia

An independent not-for-profit organisation seeking to protect the environment and our quality of life by ending population growth in Australia and globally, while rejecting racism and coercive population control. SPA is an environmental advocacy organisation, not a political party.

Population growth and Infrastructure in Australia: the catch-up illusion

Sustainable Population Australia – Discussion Paper

Lead Author: Leith van Onselen

November 2019

Sydney and Melbourne now have worse traffic congestion than New York and Toronto. This congestion is but one symptom of an infrastructure shortfall caused by Australia’s rapid population growth, fuelled by very high levels of immigration since the beginning of this century.

If these trends continue towards a ‘Big Australia’, living standards for existing residents will continue to decline as people are forced into smaller, more expensive and lower-quality housing, endure worsening traffic congestion, pay more to access basic infrastructure and services, and have less access to public services and green space.

Our political leaders are claiming that these problems can be managed by decentralisation, better planning and more investment. This paper disagrees with those propositions.

We find that these proposed solutions will not work under conditions of high population growth. Instead, the increasing cost and complexity of adding new infrastructure in our already sprawling cities can only guarantee declining living standards.

Sustainable Population Australia’s Discussion Paper series provides in-depth analysis of key issues relating to population policy and discourse.

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