Summit needs to address whether we want population growth or not
According to Sustainable Population Australia (SPA), today’s Population Summit in Sydney needs to go beyond the issue of accommodating population growth and ask the question: do we actually want it?
SPA national president, Ms Sandra Kanck, says the Summit boasts an impressive selection of speakers but none on environmental limits to growth.
“Sydney is projected to grow from five to eight million in coming decades,” Ms Kanck says. “This will be the end of the backyard for all but the rich as well as the loss of green spaces and market gardens. Quality of life will inevitably fall, even with better planning and more infrastructure.
“Further population growth will force people into high rise, given that Sydney is bounded by national parks and the ocean.
“Is this really what people want? Life is already untenable in the outer suburbs with massively long commute times. More public transport will benefit some but does not help workers needing to move across the city, rather than into it.”
Ms Kanck says the only solution is to bring population growth to a halt and allow infrastructure to catch up.
“Net overseas migration now makes up 64 per cent of Australia’s population growth while natural increase has started to fall. NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has called for a halving of immigration to allow for a ‘breather’.
“Halving immigration, however, will not be enough. We must get it down from the current 249,700 people, which is still rising despite minor cuts to the permanent program. We need to restore it to no more than a third of current levels.”
Ms Kanck agreed with NSW Planning Minister Rob Stokes who said today that “we should not use population as a lazy proxy for economic growth” and that we should not be growing the population “for its own sake”.