KPMG’s Bernard Salt has published a piece in The Australian today projecting that the population’s of Australia’s two biggest cities – Sydney and Melbourne – could climb to 11 million by the end of the century:
By 2101 the world population is expected to be 11 billion, up four billion from today. The extra four billion will not be added to the developed world. There will be unrelenting pressure in the future for migration to places like Australia; this logic supports the bold immigration assumption that underpins the core or medium projection…
If Sydney and Melbourne are to add between three and five million people to existing city plans throughout the century, how will that growth be accommodated? It’s a fair and a confronting question…
Australia is an immigrant nation and will remain so. It is a question of the scale of immigration and therefore of the pressure that such growth will place on our capital cities. We should be thinking about what our cities might look like in the second-half of the 21st century… To not do so is an abrogation of responsibility to future generations…
It’s time for the nation to stop thinking in the present, and to start thinking about the exciting and challenging world that lies beyond our demographic solar system.
I find these population projections truly horrifying. Sydney and Melbourne are already straining under 12 years of rabid population growth and are ceasing to function properly. So I hate to imagine how badly they would operate in the event that they roughly tripled in size. They would become a nightmare to live in.
Sure, Australia has an immigrant past. But this does not mean that it should necessarily maintain a high immigration future. To do so would be “an abrogation of responsibility to future generations”.
Australia’s population has already reached a sufficient scale and is now big enough to void the need for continued mass immigration. This way, it could begin to repair its infrastructure deficit and the strains caused by rapid population growth, not worsen them.
The key question that should be asked when considering a “Big Australia” agenda is: would it improve the living standards of the exiting population? If the answer is “no” or even “ambiguous” then caution warrants cutting Australia’s immigration intake to more sustainable levels.
Unfortunately, the only political party willing to openly discuss Australia’s population policy is Sustainable Australia, which is why it has my vote in the Senate in this weekend’s Federal Election.