Review of population

Review of population

Population growth in NSW has been substantially supplemented by immigration. With an increased population there is also a requirement for complimentary growth in infrastructure.

But has this been achieved? It is clear that the current high rates of population growth are putting more pressure on our infrastructure. NSW’s economic success is attracting a far greater share of total immigrant numbers than it has in the past. The majority of immigrants to NSW, settle within the Sydney region, with more to the west of Sydney. With the current population our roads are congested and public transport has considerable overcrowding.

Whilst there is an infrastructure boom in NSW with new roads, transport, schools and hospitals being built over the next 4 years it is obvious that Sydney and NSW are still playing catch up. An obvious example is the fragility of Sydney’s rail system where an incident in one part of the network has a cascading impact on the entire network. How is the NSW Government going to solve this?

The Department of Planning and Environment uses population and household projections to help plan for service and infrastructure delivery for the community, but this is not addressing population policy. Premier Gladys Berejiklian has appointed an expert panel to develop a population policy for NSW. This review will allow NSW to take a strategic approach to planning around population. The question has to be asked why has this not been on the table before with previous Governments. At a National level we urge our Federal Government to encourage new immigrants away from Sydney and Melbourne, and look at other major and regional cities. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the government would look to reduce the yearly cap of 190,000 as recent immigration figures were about 30,000 below that limit.  This is hardly a realistic figure. Australia should consider significant cuts of 100,000 and only consider skilled migrants in cities and those on humanity grounds to rural areas for at least 5 years until infrastructure meets the needs of the growing population.

It is understood that on average the net overseas migration to NSW has increased to around 73,000 and over the last two years it has increased to almost 100,000. For the immediate future we should cut the immigration to NSW. We agree with the Premier for her call for net overseas migration levels to return to more sustainable Howard-era rates when NSW net overseas migration was steady at around 45,000 a year, until a proper population policy is put in place and infrastructure resolves the needs of the growing population.

It is obvious that the infrastructure boom is in response to the increased population growth in the capitals of NSW and Victoria. The lag time between population growth and infrastructure growth must be shortened with a decrease in immigration to our major cities.

                                                                         Editor in chief



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