Australia’s cities cannot cope with projected population growth

Treasury’s latest Intergenerational Report (IGR) projects that Australia’s population will grow by a whopping 13.1 million people (~50%) over the next 40 years to 38.8 million people. This is the equivalent to adding another Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane to Australia’s existing population.

Moreover, 74% of this growth will come directly from net overseas migration (NOM), which has been projected to increase to 235,000 annually from 2025-26 onwards versus 215,000 per year in the 2015 IGR:

Australian population projections

Back to ‘Big Australia’.

In making these ludicrous projections, the IGR also warns that Australia’s immigration intake needs to be at a level that is “at or below the capacity” of destination cities to absorb them, and requires “careful planning by all levels of government”:

The economic and social pressures and capacity constraints that result from an inward flow of migrants also need to be managed carefully. Migration should be kept at or below the capacity of the destination city or region to absorb new migrants, taking into account impacts on incumbent populations…

Governments at all levels need to ensure that planning and infrastructure provision keep pace with current and future migration rates and ensure that migrants have access to essential services – such as public transport, support services and housing – and can meaningfully integrate into society.

This requires transparency, consistent decision making and careful planning by all levels of government.

In the 20 years before COVID hit, Australia’s population increased by 6.5 million people – exactly half the level projected by the IGR, with Sydney and Melbourne each adding around 1.6 million and 1.8 million people respectively over that time.

Thus, if Australia’s population was to follow the IGR’s projected trajectory, we would effectively twice repeat the population growth experienced over 2000 to 2020, with Sydney and Melbourne each growing by another 3.2 million and 3.6 million people respectively over the next 40 years!

Does anybody honestly believe that having Sydney and Melbourne add another 3.2 million and 3.6 million people over just 40 years would be “at or below the capacity” of these cities “to absorb new migrants”? Or that such strong population growth would be “managed carefully” with “planning and infrastructure provision keep[ing] pace with current and future migration rates” and “consistent decision making and careful planning by all levels of government”?

An article published yesterday in The SMH provided a textbook example of why our major cities cannot support the population growth levels projected in the IGR:

Sydney’s housing pipeline has hit another choking point with no money forthcoming to deliver the upgrade of a congested road on which the creation of thousands of new homes relies.

Richmond Road in Marsden Park is a primary evacuation route for residents in Sydney’s north-west growth area, running alongside two future suburbs that are yet to be rezoned after NSW Planning Minister Rob Stokes paused progress on them due to risks associated with flooding.

Blacktown mayor Tony Bleasdale described the thoroughfare, which is proposed to be doubled in width from two lanes to four, as a “nightmare” that was hindering appropriate access and egress for the residents of the nearby housing estates.

“From many people’s points of view at the moment it’s just a car park. The frustration for those cars moving along Richmond Road any day of the week in normal times is unacceptable,” he said…

The state transport agency told Blacktown Council in a presentation in November that the upgrade had not yet been funded.

“We’re told there’s no money,” Mr Bleasdale said.

The mass immigration program of 2000 to 2020 was managed appallingly and crush loaded everything in sight, resulting in widespread infrastructure bottlenecks across Australia’s major cities and reduced liveability.

Repeating the experience twice over again, as projected by the IGR, and expecting positive results this time around is obviously delusional and the very definition of insanity.

Australia’s living standards would be destroyed by the IGR’s population projections and climate change would ensure that Australia runs into chronic water supply problems long before the population hits the projected 38.8 million people.

Sadly, Australia’s corrupted economics fraternity fails to account for the many negative externalities when spruiking for a ‘Big Australia’.

Unconventional Economist
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  1. Lord DudleyMEMBER

    They absolutely can cope. Ever been to a large Indian city? Sure, infrastructure will be a disaster zone, mobility will be impaired, and decent housing will be unattainable by the masses. But none of that matters.

    What matters is that the profits grow and land prices go up. So long as the public are gullible and stupid, they can be distracted with culture war garbage essentially forever.

    This is Australia’s future. The propaganda has been perfected. Just make sure you’re one of those who benefit from it.

    • So Lord D, are you in USA? Might have that wrong, but if you are how did you get there & what status do you have in USA (if indeed you are there)? This is not meant as a challenging question if you are in USA as it’s on behalf of my kids. Obviously not me as I’m way past it, but looking out for my kids options to go somewhere else & USA is one option.

      • I would not send my kids to USA. NZ maybe. Or find somewhere remote in Oz to build them a life raft for when the SHTF. Somewhere with good soil, water and a small community they can escape to when the cities are out of water & food, where the garbage is piled up in the streets…..of course they’ll have had to contribute in the interim, or they’re just another city parasite.

        So teach them resilience and to grow their own food. There’s a ton of literature out there on this.

      • AndynycMEMBER

        I lived in the US for 15 years. It is a great place and full of wonderful people but the inequality due to their own mass immigration program means if you are not educated you are screwed. I used to work for years with only 1 or 2 weeks vacation. Their productivity is high, because if you don’t want your job – there is an eager person who will take it from you. My experiences are in the major cities. I would recommend a smaller tier for a better quality of life.

        • Jumping jack flash

          “…but the inequality due to their own mass immigration program…”


          So many people cant see that our problems are the same problems everywhere.

      • Sure, send them to US. Unlike AU, US targets the best and brightest from all over, not just the underperforming underclasses of Asia. My son formerly despised US, but he finally listened to me, and he’s had a terrific run there, will go US citizen.

        Here’s another thing about US, they don’t rely on mass migration for “GDP growth”, because that would be really and truly stupid. California, the fifth global economy, went population-negative in 2020, and nobody cared.

        • Fishing72MEMBER

          “They don’t rely on immigration for GDP growth”

          No, they rely on it for demographic change to establish political ends. That plus all the usual stuff ie wage suppression, growing consumer base etc

          • Jumping jack flash

            Yes. They rely on mass immigration as a poor substitute for wages growth by simply stealing the wages for themselves.

            It also is an effective way to keep inflation down so we dont need to worry about interest rates suddenly rising, which hasnt been a problem for as long as Phil has been governor, but our government is just on autopilot with regards to that side of things, plus businesses think they’re getting a good deal.

            If business owners were actually switched on and thought beyond their own personal debt liabilities they’d quickly realise that if they paid all their workers more then workers would consume more and they’d all get more money. But no.

          • How is it different to AU in terms of political purposes? The granny visas at the 2019 election was specifically targeted at migrant community votes. For some electorates like Chisholm, the migrant community has enough numbers to switch forum Liberal to Labor and vice versa. 30% born overseas means migrants can now determine the fate of the election.

          • drsmithyMEMBER

            No, they rely on it for demographic change to establish political ends.

            Uh huh. Which version of replacement theory is this ?

      • I lived for a total of about 14 years in the US and it is a great place to live IF you have the skills/knowledge/capability to be properly compensated for your work.
        Living in the US and working in say construction is a hard life, if you want good health care for your family (equivalent to what you’d get in Australia on Medicare) then you’ll be paying in excess of $1500/month.
        Public Schools vary between atrocious and excellent it all sort of depends on how well to do the school district is which has to do with how expensive the houses are.
        If I were a young Engineer (with in demand stem skills ) or even a Doctor I wouldn’t hesitate to move to the US, If I were a shop assistant or carpenter I wouldn’t even think about it….hope that helps

      • drsmithyMEMBER

        From memory, LD got there initially on an E3 visa, which is basically a rubber stamp if you have a) a degree and b) a job offer.

        Biggest issue with it used to be simply that the vast majority of employers had never heard of it, thus had no idea what it was (or how quick/easy/cheap it was). This may have changed in the last 10-12 years.

        There’s also the Green Card Lottery (or Diversity Visa, as it’s more formally known), which is worth throwing an entry into every year because as an Australian you have a relatively high chance of being selected. I’ve been putting one in most years since 2011 and “won” in 2018 but unfortunately couldn’t take advantage (you’ve got about an 18 month window in which you need to relocate to the US, then it expires).

  2. Can someone help me understand the Bruenig and subsequent CEDA modelling.the modelling they use to claim migration doesn’t lower wages.

    As I understand they split the labour market into groups based on experience, then plot the wage growth of that group against the group’s proportion migrants. Finally creating a linear regression through all the different labour market groups.

    If that understanding is correct doesn’t it just show migrants are attracted to high paying labour markets in the process dragging them back to average? Surely I’m missing something here.

    • Leroy Huggins

      Economist magic pudding:

      additional supply of migrant labour > labour unit cost down
      additional demand for services > labour unit cost up (but insufficient to fully counteract labour cost down pressure)
      additional demand for infrastructure, funded by debt > labour unit cost up – into balance or slight positive.
      Publish results, ignore the part where debt was incurred, just discuss the wage impact.

      After all, if you looked across wages in the economy, that infrastructure buildout does raise wages, with two problems:
      1. It is one and done, those builders are eventually left without work unless the Ponzi continues to infinity.. which it can’t (physics and carrying capacities and all that).
      2. The infrastructure buildout is funded by increasing debt.

      Include national (state federal private) debt AND wages in the picture, and the negative impact would be clear.
      With no real movement in exports to compensate, and a per capita reduction in export earnings.

      Simplified: when new migrants come, we borrow money to expand our road network for them and build more hospitals. This creates more employment and some increase in wages in some industries to partially or (if we take their word for it) fully cover the negative impact on wages. Except we’d be in the same net position if we kept the migrants out, and borrowed the money to build out infrastructure for OURSELVES anyway, or even paid ourselves to do nothing.

      It’s the new digging holes to nowhere but with added losing your nation to foreigners for good measure.
      A net loss for all except for the foreign billionaires (that hate homogenous Anglo Australia) that push us on that path of course and get their triple whammy: higher profits, higher asset prices, and the replacement of the Australian people they hate.

    • Jumping jack flash

      Easy, its averages of averages, the same as many of our “statistics”.

      Workers arrive and get jobs and get their wages stolen. The stolen wages flow up to business owners, increasing their wages. Debt grows accordingly and fills in the cracks.

    • drsmithyMEMBER

      Broadly speaking they always seem to be based on three assumptions:
      * Pretty much everyone who wants to work locally already has as much as they want (ie: little opportunity to increase demand without immigration)
      * More people creates more consumption than could otherwise be created without more people because of the previous assumption (ie: standard supply-side thinking).
      * The majority of immigrants are filling jobs that otherwise couldn’t be filled (due to a combination of the first assumption, and a belief that actual skills shortages are widespread).

      Studies cited as evidence often seem to be from scenarios where there were actually real labour shortages, rather than imagined ones derived from supply-side dogma.

  3. MathiasMEMBER

    I think Automation would be a better solution. If we hadnt exiled the younger generation, we’d have used the strengths and talents of the young ( who are technical minded ) to develop a much more automated society.

    Now that the Boomers have effectively stolen the keys to Canberra and locked themselves inside, there really is no Plan B.

    You cant fix an Aging Population without the Boomers dying. With interest rates at virtually nothing, its obvious that they’ll be going much lower into deep negatives.

    Can we survive another 17 years? Doubt it.

    The Boomers are like Terrorists who have hijacked and locked themselves inside Australias Parliament. We all know how this ends. It’ll end with them blowing up there own pensions.

    • ‘Again: their’ not ‘there’. You negate your entire argument (which btw is ridiculous, ignorant and offensive) by your ignorance of grade two spelling and grammar.

      • The Traveling Wilbur

        Ignorance of the meaning of the wavy blue lines more like. Fairly sure home school featured largely, so unfair to blame the State.

        PS Doesn’t the implied pedantry become a little boaring after awhile. 😀 + 😀.

        • I generally aim to skip reading the comments due to their overall insensitivity, ignorance, inconsistency, misogyny, ageism, self pity, self centeredness and complete absence of empathy, but on occasion, slip up. Perhaps out of kindness I generally refrain from commenting, realising there is a problem.

          Perhaps I let my irritation get the better of me as spelling is the least of the issue here.

          • The Traveling Wilbur

            You could have lifted that entire comment out of my frontal lobes. Word for word.

            In fact, it’s only out of irritation that I ever reply to someone who has already replied. And so I could type “boaring”.

            And “awhile”. 😀

      • ErmingtonPlumbingMEMBER

        Yes you are being pedantic drt.
        The whole mechanics of language are badly designed for communication.
        And yet, disturbing as it is, Mathias’s writing gives us an accurate and well articulated insight into the internal thoughts and mental state of the man.
        Could the same be said of our more grammatically correct Skip?,…Mmm?

        I think it is you sir who needs to better educate yourself on what language even is!

        • “And yet, disturbing as it is, Mathias’s writing gives us an accurate and well articulated insight into the internal thoughts and mental state of the man”

          Quite. Herein lies the problem.

        • To be quite clear: Matthias comments are invariably ignorant, insensitive, whiny, self-pitying, disaffected, misogynistic, ageist, long-winded garbage which I try skip over, only on occasion reading one accidentally.

          The spelling grates as he claims he has a uni degree. So lets add dishonest to that litany.

          It’s an ‘insight’ I can happily forego.

    • Fair play, I like “the Boomers have effectively stolen the keys to Canberra and locked themselves inside”, gonna steal it.

    • TailorTrashMEMBER

      Well dear chap consider this

      Penny W
      Tanya P
      Kristina K
      Bill S

      Josh F
      II Dutto

      Are all not baby boomers ..

      Albo is the exception.
      So the country is really in the hands of the post boomer generation and they don’t seem to be doing a spiffling job of it .

      • Absolutely. Younger voters also outnumber the baby boomers by more than 2 to 1. Most of the politicians and most of the electorate aren’t baby boomers, so why would they be giving the baby boomers any special privileges, unless they are also rich, of course? Why aren’t younger voters looking after their own interests and sending the neoliberal politicians to well-deserved oblivion?

      • +1 each to you and Tania.
        It’s a trope with appeal to the ignorant disaffected

      • That’s pretty much where we’ll be getting roughly 95% of these people from.

        Another 10-15m Indians, rural Chinese and other SE Asians, Pakistanis, Nepalese and Bangladeshis by 2040.

        Mostly low skilled, non net tax contributors with the aim of acquiring permanent residency and family reunion visas.

        It’s not worth coming here from developed countries like the UK anymore unless you’re going to make serious money.

        • RobotSenseiMEMBER

          Particularly if we aim to devalue our Pacific peso to underdo our national debt. There’d be a lot of workers from Western nations taking a pay cut to move here.

      • drsmithyMEMBER

        Very simple and straightforward arguement.

        “For any complex problem there is an answer” etc, etc.

        The problems we have come from the top, not the bottom. The implicit argument that nobody in the third world wants a better society is offensive both because it is stupid, and because it is racist.

  4. From 2015 with NOM over 200,000, life expectancy is decreasing. Any reason for adjusting it down?

  5. Arthur Schopenhauer

    Water. Water and Water? Where’s it going to come from?

    Agricultural Soil, Soil and Soil? We’ve already lost half since 1788, and we are busy concreting over the best of it.

    Burn coal to make drinkable water?

    There are already 2 “water recycling” plants in outer Melbourne. One in Packenham, and the other in Craigiburn. At present, it’s impossible to filter out the estrogen (a by product of the pill). Forget fluoride, let’s give our children a dilute estrogen supplement.

    It’s all good right?

  6. The economics profession is dominated by those who are dependent upon those in power and vested economic interests.
    If you want a career, you have to provide analysis/stories which support your master’s lines. The master’s, in turn, rely on these sycophants to “justify” their positions.
    LVO is one of the exceptions.
    Calling in Stephen Morris who can articulate this better………….

  7. Apart from the absolute numbers, there is also the question of where these people are going to live. I feel like the State governments are continuing to plan on the old assumption of population being concentrated into big cities, whereas in reality it may end up being more decentralized.

    • Charles MartinMEMBER

      I’ll guarantee you there isn’t a smart plan from our esteemed demographers, planners and politicians.
      They’ll be like Mr Burns cramming a tree full of nuclear waste drums and exclaiming that the last tree held nine drums.

  8. Sometimes I wonder if the world’s so small
    That we can never get away from the sprawl

    -Arcade Fire

  9. ErmingtonPlumbingMEMBER

    Maybe its our Manifest Destiny to get to over 100 million people and conquer Oceania,…and Antarctica too if it warms up enough to grow crops and graze cattle their.


    The incorrect use of “their” was for drt15s irritation.

    • Love it.

      The crazy thing is if we grow our population by that much then we (as in the Australia we know today) will have been conquered.

    • Charles MartinMEMBER

      Who we will be at war with when we reach 100 million, Eastasia or Eurasia?