COAG agrees to maintain throttle on population growth

After 17 years of extreme immigration-driven population growth:

The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) has belatedly agreed to establish a National Population and Planning Framework to “to improve Commonwealth, States and Territories and local governments’ understanding of populations, population change and its implications, and set-out a plan for government collaboration on the challenges and opportunities these changes present”:

The elements of the Framework have been developed for these objectives:

  • Element 1 Establishing a common understanding of populations and population change.
  • Element 2 Ensuring greater collaboration across jurisdictions.
  • Element 3 Increasing transparency.
  • Element 4 Facilitating shared action.

The Elements combined will promote greater integration between governments in managing and planning for population changes…

The National Population and Planning Framework seeks to enhance the ability of jurisdictions to manage their individual population circumstances by offering all levels of government greater visibility of each other’s population planning processes…

Population growth has increased Australia’s economic growth. A larger working age population can increase the number of workers producing goods and services and consumers buying goods and services.

Over the past 40 years, population factors (i.e. the share of the population that is working age) have contributed almost a sixth of the growth in Australia’s GDP per person. Population growth also creates vibrant cities and regions, stimulates employment and sparks innovation and productivity.

Migration, in particular, has provided a boost to the economy, bringing skilled, working age people to Australia. This has increased labour force participation, and has likely improved productivity. Migrants also make an important social contribution to the Australian community, bringing new ideas and cultural perspectives, and helping to make Australia one of the most successful multicultural nations in the world.

High population growth comes with challenges, such as congestion and increasing pressures on government services. Low population growth comes with challenges of skills shortages, changing demands for infrastructure and services, and maintaining well-functioning communities. Demographic change brings with it different levels of service utilisation and engagement in the labour market.

Different jurisdictions have different objectives for population growth. Some want to ease the population pressures in their capital city and support regional and remote areas. Others want higher population growth in all areas of their state or territory and to address the ageing of their population, skills shortages and other issues.

The National Population and Planning Framework will help jurisdictions better understand populations and population change and their implications for governments. Jurisdictions could then agree to work jointly, multilaterally or bilaterally, on the challenges and opportunities.

As shown above, Australia’s world-beating population growth is portrayed by COAG as being unambiguously positive from an economic and social perspective. The many downsides of this ‘Big Australia’ policy are given short shrift and presented as both minor next to the purported benefits and isolated to a few locations only.

Basically, the unrepresentative swill at COAG has confirmed there will be no meaningful moderation in Australia’s mass immigration program. ‘Big Australia’ is the only option.

Leith van Onselen


  1. This is the last time we’re going to change to sensible immigration policies, let’s face it. We’ll be lucky if we just maintain the old numbers rather than opening the dams.

    If we hit 20% unemployment or something it could discourage some from coming over. That’s plausible, I guess.

  2. When did they have time to do this?
    In the coffee break between Corona Virus meetings?
    All in government know that quantitative peopling is the only game in Australian economic growth.

  3. Reverse Transcriptase

    Frameworks would not have kept the overcrowded, collapsing hospital system running pre COVID19, they will do F-all now.

    I do think Australia in the grips of a recession would be a less attractive option for genuinely skilled migrants, especially if US comes out the other side before us, but there are sill hundreds of millions further down the food chain who would be happy with our standing offer to newcomers: liberal welfare/free medical treatment/cash economy if you don’t want to pay tax or GST/no pressure to assimilate or learn English.

      • Reverse Transcriptase

        Agreed, but I think still better than some parts of the planet.

        Until we impose a solid capital infrastructure contribution levy on new PRs, migrating to Australia will be a net gain for many.

  4. Hi Leith. Thanks for reporting this. It would be really useful if you would do a point by point critique of the arguments COG has put forward in supporting this ‘growth’ and Big Australia. Thankyou.

  5. This “population change” cant is exactly what Burke used in his 2011 population strategy for Gillard. Everything is so much easier, when you ignore the electors and the environment, and put the answer in front of the question.

    The ADF would die, for half the steely discipline of the Big Australia lobby. Drought, fires, virus, and not one of them has broken ranks. Not COAG, nor Treasury or Reserve Bank, nor Sydney or Melbourne, nor industry, media, academics or unions.

  6. Like it or not the gates are now firmly shut with Covid-19 travel bans.

    This will last for at least two months – then we will have severe unemployment with massive business closures and job losses.

    The idea that they will maintain the flood during this period is beyond absurd – simply will not happen.

    Interesting times ahead.

  7. under current and near future situation with
    – closed borders
    – closed unis
    – closed restaurants
    – high mortality
    – …

    what are the chances for Australia to have more residents in a year period?

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