NSW minister demands national population strategy

By Leith van Onselen

Finally, a state government minister has pushed-back against the federal government’s blind march towards a ‘Big Australia’. From The SMH:

A NSW cabinet minister has called on the Turnbull government to devise a clear population policy, saying states were left to plan cities “in the dark” due to a lack of national narrative on the country’s population growth.

Education Minister Rob Stokes said the state government was left trying to retrofit the NSW’s infrastructure and services to an expanding population, without a clear, transparent trajectory of NSW’s future population.

“It’s impossible to plan if you don’t know what you are planning for,” Mr Stokes said. “There’s no overarching narrative of where we are going.”

A former planning minister, Mr Stokes said states were at the mercy of the federal government’s migration policies while bearing the bulk of the infrastructure costs associated with adapting to a growing population.

“Whether it’s planning for patient beds, medical services, the number of new schools and where they are located, housing affordability, or transport routes, ultimately we are planning in the dark if we don’t know what the population is going to do.

“Why are we frightened about having a policy on this? We have policies on everything else.”

The Turnbull government needed to lead on the issue by putting it on the national agenda, he said, and bringing states on board to devise a long-term strategy.

“If we don’t do it, the shape of our country will not change. Development will continue to hug the coast, our major cities will continue to increase in size and the imbalance in our population will continue to accelerate.”

Hear, hear.

It is the federal government’s mass immigration program that is primarily responsible for the 87,000 people per year projected growth in Sydney’s population to 6.4 million over the next 20-years, which would effectively add another Perth to the city’s population:

And it is this mass immigration program that is causing huge strain on the state governments, who are struggling to fund the economic and social infrastructure necessary to cope with the population influx – basic things like expanding the road and public transport systems, as well as expanding schools and hospitals.

The situation is made worse by the vertical fiscal imbalances embedded in the system, whereby the Commonwealth raises 82% of total tax revenue, the states and territories 15%, and local government just 3%.

This has left the states – who are the primary providers of public services – to being heavily reliant on the Commonwealth for funding to cope with the population influx bestowed on them by the federal government’s mass immigration program.

At no time have Australian’s views been sought over how big they want Australia to become. For this reason, Australians deserve to have a plebiscite seeking their views about the nation’s future population size, the answers of which would then be used to formulate Australia’s immigration intake to meet the said target.

Here is an example of the type of question that could be taken to the Australian people:

Australia’s population is currently 24.5 million. Under zero net overseas migration (NOM), it is projected to reach 27 million by 2060.

ScreenHunter_15977 Nov. 09 07.44

By 2060, do you believe Australia’s population should be:

  • 27 million;
  • 30 million;
  • 35 million;
  • 40 million;
  • 45 million?

Obviously, there is room to move on the language and the chart should be updated to show the level of NOM corresponding to the choices, but you get the idea. The important thing is that Australian’s views are sought and this consensus is then used to formulate a national population policy.

In it’s recent Migrant Intake Australia report, the Productivity Commission also explicitly called for a national population strategy, rather than flying blindly.

It’s high time our federal politicians adhered this advice and took a population plebiscite to the Australian people. It’s the democratic thing to do.

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Unconventional Economist
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  1. They know their jobs are on the line. Not a national interest or constitute motivated move. Arseholes all of them.

    • It’s those pesky people camping at Martin place making them all ‘completely uncomfortable’ that broke the horses back.

    • Rob Stokes seemed to be very much a Big Australia man when he was Minister for Planning and plotted high rise apartments everywhere and drew lines on a map for transport links. Now he’s got Education no doubt realizing there are some extra costs involved he didn’t really think about.

      • “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?”

        I congratulate him.

      • It wasn’t the facts that changed, just his job title. But yes, credit for speaking up now, even though he’s left lasting damage from his previous role.

      • I don’t know Stokes’ history, but I don’t necessarily see a contradiction.

        You can be in favour of cutting immigration and still recognise that Sydney needs more infrastructure – now – just to service the population we already have.

      • His previous job was all about squeezing as many people as possible in to Sydney because we “had to” make room for 1 million more people in next 15 years etc. He never questioned that assumption at the time even though planning for it was his responsibility (in theory).

        In reality the Planning minister spends their time meeting with a lot of developers who just want to build things higher, sell more apartments, make more profits, and the State government gets to rake in revenue from selling them land and stamp duty so the more of it the better. Education and health OTOH are cost centers, so the less they can get away with doing the better, and they will avoid improving, or even maintaining existing standards. This is all because they believe that government should be run like a business and voters will be most impressed if they show a “profit” (i.e. a surplus).

      • billygoatMEMBER

        You’d have be a complete F’wit to be Minister for PLANNING and not consider the (pos and neg) implications of your actions. Anyway Minister of Educationnis really a euphemism for Minister of Housing & Tourism. They should just roll all 3 into one and call it Minister of Chinafication … oops potential to sound racist – sorry to all those offended. Minister of Corruption. Our young (oz Caucasian ) are now so dumbed down they’ll think Corruption is positive because it brings people here to spend big in retail, keep car market buoyant, dept of transport ticking over and foreigners to buy their parents clapped out homes in outer suburbs for a million plus bucks. Good work all round – young dumb Aussies in Bali & Thailsnd can live like millionaires on parents dime AND they don’t need to work – just have an Instagram career.

      • Yes I believe the only way that any of this other stuff is going to get fixed is when things degenerate into such a state of shitfulness that even migrants and students from developing Asia are no longer interested in coming here. Already you see Sydney and Melbourne starting to slide down the rankings of livability etc that they like to boast about. Homeless encampments, declining education standards, ridiculous house prices, poor employment prospects, road congestion and defective public transport. Seriously China is starting from a long way behind,, but most of these indicators are on improve, while we are sliding backwards.

  2. >[10:18 AM] NSW minister demands national population strategy
    >[10:20 AM] NSW minister actually demands national feral cat population strategy
    >[10:22 AM] NSW minister retires from politics early for family reasons
    >[10:24 AM] New NSW minister announces support for state FHB boost

    • Depends on the political party. Greens don’t want white men, other parties except the far right don’t give a crap who they let in as long as they don’t arrive by boat. I can’t see any change to the status quo until the far right holds more seats in parliament (not looking forward to it, but Katter seems to the only person who speaks sense on migration). Sustainable Australia has some great people who use facts and logic, but barely scratched the surface last election with their number of votes.

  3. Well done UE its due in part to your tireless work on this that has allowed a politician to actually make some sense

  4. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-08-04/donald-trump-told-malcolm-turnbull-refugee-deal-was-stupid/8773368

    Well this is interesting. Some choice quotes in there.

    Full transcript here: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-08-04/donald-trump-malcolm-turnbull-refugee-phone-call-transcript/8773422

    Will be interesting few weeks of politics. SSM may just get voted on to be a distraction now.. and possibly pass. Need something big and distracting for the right to be upset about. And if its SSM then maybe the migration can continue…

  5. He’ll get short shrift from the usual suspects, same as the response to (China) Bob Carr when he stated Sydney was full many years ago. It’s the problem (overpopulation/excess immigration) that can’t be named.

    • Exactly. btw there is a population policy, it’s tripartisan and it’s called F*k Australians over and over again and again to the nth degree.

    • Speaking of Barnaby, has anyone else noticed that he’s wearing that bloody akubra in almost every press conference now? Not just the usual “you can tell I’m a total legit Aussie bushy mate, check out me hat and me RMs” thing that every pollie does whenever they get more than 100kms from a GPO, Barnaby’s is like a permanent fixture…

  6. NSW State Government revenues have rocketed thanks to the housing boom which itself is partly due to rising population (although I thought there was a graph here the other day which showed Melbourne and Perth both had higher rates of population growth) so my advice to the NSW Government is spend wisely, you’re not as well-off as you think. Population growth comes with a big infrastructure price-tag, not just stamp duty revenues.

    • mine-otour in a china shop

      The State Surplus has surged indeed and what they have cleverly done is push the infrastructural deficit shit further down the pipe to local councils. The advantage of this is that the federal government can blame the state government who in turn can blame the local government when it all goes pear shaped.

      Even in the lesser affected Regions the State solution is to give councils $1.6bn to solve the population and infrastructural problems in those areas. Councils have no money to maintain assets though and on-going operational cost constraints make lots of these projects unfeasible, alongside the lack of skills to run these projects.

      The result will be an un coordinated policy shit-tsunami. The Federal Government needs to take the reins on this one and develop a population and infrastructural strategy.

      • “Even in the lesser affected Regions the State solution is to give councils $1.6bn to solve the population and infrastructural problems in those areas. Councils have no money to maintain assets though and on-going operational cost constraints make lots of these projects unfeasible, alongside the lack of skills to run these projects.

        “The result will be an un coordinated policy shit-tsunami.”

        “ucoordinated shit-tsunami” Perfectly described, unfortunately that’s intentional, helps the blame-game shifting from the Fed Big Oz screwyou policy on to the lower rungs of government, as far away from #Cancera as possible.

  7. TailorTrashMEMBER

    Good luck with talking to Canberra ………….immigration is all now outsourced to the private sector ……think of the immigration “industry ” donations
    and keep on keeping on

  8. Some of that language from the minister sounds familiar. I’ll believe it when something is done about it and I see it. Talk is cheap and I’m still not buying it.

  9. “Big Australia” is in reality big Sydney and big Melbourne as these are the cities where most of the migrants gravitate. The impacts on infrastructure and existing communities are significant, with most of the burden of the increased population falling on the working class and the benefits accruing to the wealthy. In the long term it’s a recipe for social dislocation.

  10. Bob Carr kept saying Sydney is full – I think when he was Premier.

    Maybe the states can slap a massive rental tax on foreigners – I would like to see some pain inflicted.

  11. Jumping jack flash

    ““It’s impossible to plan if you don’t know what you are planning for,” Mr Stokes said. “There’s no overarching narrative of where we are going.””

    Hang on, hang on, how could they not know?
    Skills shortages…? Helloooooo!!!?

    Everyone who’s anyone knows that we have a dire shortage of skills that requires immediately and continuously bringing as many “professionals” as possible into the country.

    Phase 1: Bring in the skilled professionals
    Phase 2: ???
    Phase 3: Profit.

    Its very simple, really. There’s your plan.

    I think someone hasn’t been paying attention in politic school. Probably spending too much time in the parliamentary cafeteria quaffing red while private companies did their work for them in return for the rights to gouge the people as much as they like as often as they like.

  12. sydboy007MEMBER

    Hopefully Rob Stokes doesn’t drive a car that can be hacked ala Michael Flynn. Me thinks the meritonocracy wont be happy with this kind of wrong think. After all we do live in an infinite world with infinite arable land and infinite resources.

  13. Stokes has got it wrong, there is a national population policy…………big Australia.

    Methinks he is not protesting instead it reads as him wanting help on building for the ponzi.

    Leith I really think you have misread what Stokes is saying.

  14. Having a population policy does not necessarily mean having a small-population policy. Politicians who call for a population policy usually mean they want a population policy that aims for a huge population. And APop and some developers have often called for a population policy. I heard one of them call for fifty new megacities round Australia. When we are told that “Victoria is heading for 10m by 2050” that means that the state is aiming for 10m by 2050. That is the Lib Lab bipartisan policy. It isn’t really a reaction to ‘trends’ revealed by the ABS. Those ‘trends’ were planned with the immigration settings. What we need to call for is a small population policy because we are already overpopulated. Obviously, or there would be no infrastructure problem. And everyone needs to learn about population doubling times! For instance, according to the 2016 ABS stats, Victoria is actually growing now at 2.4%. That gives a doubling time of 29.23 yrs. The current view to planning for 2050 is way too short a planning frame. What is supposed to happen in 2050, as we continue to accelerate? Australia is growing at 1.6%, which means its population will double in less than 44 years – from about 24m today to 48 million. And who knows how fast it will be growing then? Maybe by that time the combination of high immigration and a bigger population base will have it doubling every 30 years…. And, if we cannot control these ‘trends’ downwards now, what hope will we have then?