Thank you for visiting the My Bulging City page. You are part of a growing movement of Australians who are concerned about the direction that our cities, towns, and communities are heading toward. For many of us, the places we grew up in are no longer recognisable. Former bush and farmland has been replaced by both suburbia and high rise. Our roads are increasingly congested. There are a lot of construction and building projects going on but housing is becoming unaffordable, especially for younger generations. We all need somewhere to live, but we often find ourselves thinking how much more growth can our communities cope with and for how long?
In this first video instalment of My Bulging City, director Rod Taylor takes a look at the impacts of Big Australia – the Commonwealth government policy of deliberately growing Australia’s population. This video is about Canberra but the issues are the same across Australia.
If you’ve felt that your own city is bulging that’s because it is.
Australia has had high population growth since 1945 but it exploded between 2005 and 2019 and the government wants to go right back to where we were in 2019. Population is only one cause of the problems we are experiencing but it is something we can change. SPA is trying to change the conversation about it. We want people who are concerned about Big Australia’s bulging cities to know they are not alone. We want people who are concerned about quality of life, clogged infrastructure, housing affordability and environmental destruction to understand that population growth is one of the causes.
Source: Centre for Population 2020, Population Statement, the Australian Government, Canberra, p. 11.
If you were not aware of the role of population in our declining quality of life, unaffordable houses and devastated environment it is in part because there are people whose income depends on you not knowing. So much of the national conversation on population flows through business, the media and academia. These institutions seek greater revenue (yes, sadly, even universities these days) and so their position on population may be influenced by the fact that a bigger population means more customers. In turn politicians can enhance their relationship with these institutions by delivering them higher population growth.
There is no secret conspiracy but there are powerful incentives on journalists, academics, CEOs and politicians that make them speak of population growth only in the ways that benefit the organisations or parties they belong to and aid their standing with their employer or party. While there are some who speak out against Big Australia, they do so through courage and conviction and likely at the cost of their relationship with their employers or parties. Commonly, false accusations of racism are made to try to silence critics of population growth.
My Bulging City is part of SPA’s effort to change the national conversation. By reporting about how Big Australia actually changes the lives of Australians we are hoping to build a national consensus for a stabilised population with vastly better quality of life. You can read about what we want in more detail in our Position and Policy statement (PPS).
My Bulging City is not about telling people where they can live or getting rid of all apartments. We are about looking at the big picture of what happens when our communities grow too big, too quickly in order to serve narrow economic interests for the few in power who profit from this growth. We don’t want bulging cities but we will have to fight to stop them. Please help us with the following:
- Follow SPA and like and share the My Bulging City video on Facebook, Twitter, by email or text.
- When you do that, tell us about your own experiences of life in a bulging city, maybe you can share some of your own videos and photos on social media with the hashtag #letsrethinkbigaustralia
- If you are a member of any of Facebook’s community (suburb) please share this video on those. If you don’t know about these, just type your suburb into the search bar on Facebook and there will very likely be a residents’ group for that suburb.
- Arrange a screening of My Bulging City at your community group or school. Depending on availability and if you are in the ACT, someone from SPA may be able to attend and participate in question and answer sessions afterwards. Contact SPA for speaker enquiries.
- If you live in Canberra or Queanbeyan, you could also forward the video to your Commonwealth MP or Senator.
- Support SPA directly.
- Listen to our podcast.
- Watch our videos.
- Read more about our campaign to rethink Big Australia.
- Read our academic level discussion papers debunking the Big Australia spin on infrastructure and the ageing population.
An obvious question you might have following the film is what specifically could be done differently to solve some of the problems detailed in it? SPA has 29 policy proposals in our Position and Policy Statement which address some of the problems detailed in the film. As the Productivity Commission has said, Australia’s immigration policy is its de facto population policy. Australia recently experienced life with negative net migration and the Commonwealth government wants that to go to 235,000 net overseas migrants a year by 2024.
Given we are now experiencing huge changes in our migration settings SPA is focusing on just two key points for people to lobby their MP about – setting migration low enough that it will stop growing the population and demanding that Australia’s population be stabilised at no more than 30 million people. In other words, what sustainable level of population we want in the end, and how we get there. If you would like to contact your MP about these issues please see our how you can make a difference page. It is part of our broader campaign to rethink Big Australia.