NSW SoE report: population growth a key driver of environmental decline

Recall that the incoming premier brief from top bureaucrats within the NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet told Premier Dominic Perrottet that Australia needs an “explosive” surge of 2 million migrants to boost the economy:

“An ambitious national immigration plan similar to Australia’s post-World War II approach would ensure Australia would benefit from skills, investment and population growth,” Mr Perrottet was told in the advice, which was seen by The Australian Financial Review…

In a sign the new Premier is taking the advice seriously, Mr Perrottet on Monday said the borders need to be opened up amid a “general labour” shortage to ensure a healthy economic recovery.

“If we lose this opportunity, those skilled migrants will go to other countries,” he said. “We won’t get those engineers, those accountants, they’ll commit to other projects”…

Mr Perrottet was told that a “time-limited” immigration surge could include a “doubling” of pre-COVID immigration levels for the next five years and “unashamedly” focusing on “the skilled migration we need to develop key industry sectors”…

A doubling of that pre-pandemic rate would see net migration leap to more than 400,000 a year, a staggering surge that would see the population swell by 2 million by 2026.

Premier Perrottet then proceeded to lobby the federal government for a big immigration increase.

This week, the 2021 NSW State of Environment report (SoE) was released, which confirmed that population growth is “a significant driver of environmental impacts”:

In NSW, a rising population accompanied by growing urbanisation has led to greater demand for  housing, land, energy, water, consumer products and transport services, and can increase energy, water and resource use, and the generation of waste and emissions.

The reports notes that NSW’s population increased at an annual average growth rate of 1.4% per cent between 2015 and 2020 and will reach over 10 million in 20 years, with much of the growth will be in Greater Sydney (which will grow to 7.1 million by 2041):

By June 2020, 8.17 million people were living in NSW, 61% of whom resided in Greater Sydney. Over the five-year period from June 2015 to June 2020, the state’s population grew by more than 550,000 people…

By 2041, the NSW population is expected to grow to 10.57 million people, with Greater Sydney’s population forecast to reach around 7.1 million by 2041… The challenge will be to manage projected population growth alongside environment protection and conservation, and maintain liveability…

Populations grow because of:

  • natural increase – the difference between births and deaths
  • migration – the movement of people to and from other parts of Australia and overseas.

Over the past 40 years, overseas migration has been the most significant contributor to population growth in NSW, with natural increase remaining relatively stable…

Clearly, the NSW doesn’t give a hoot about the environment. Because if it did, it wouldn’t advocate for such a massive increase in immigration (population growth).

Running a mass immigration ‘Big Australia’ policy is the antithesis of a sustainable environmental policy. Yet left-leaning green groups rarely mention it? Why is that?

Unconventional Economist


  1. Green groups simply follow the United Nations script. Whereby you have UN Sustainable Development Goals, plus UN Net Zero 2050, and neither is allowed to mention population, because that would be too racist.

    • Perhaps. Or, it keeps the interest rates low, demand for housing high, and if you’ve got a couple of investment properties… Self-interest?

      • Climate change – 2050. Next state election – 2023. Vote for us in 2023 so we can promise to consider action on climate change!

  2. Display NameMEMBER

    The endless growth lobby doesn’t count negative externalities like the environment. What is the return from the environment at the current hurdle rate? It is the culture that knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.

  3. I’ve had cause to drive around the western Sydney fringe (Richmond Rd, St Marys Rd) where you can see paddocks and fibro shacks on one side, and sardined McMansions on the other side.

    At some places those double story houses appear to be only 1m apart. I understand that going with shared walls does create problems down the track when it is time to rebuild or renovate. But these tiny gaps between houses are useless wasted space and just increase the load on airconditioners.

    Also all the roofs are dark colours and must absorb more heat from the sun.

    There must be a better way. Could we perhaps import some better design skills.

    • The contrast is shocking isn’t it. You also see houses sitting on a couple of acres on one side and then McMansions packed in like sardine cans on the other. As you say the gutters almost touch, you can’t park your vehicle in the driveway without encroaching on the footpath and roofs are all black and the tree canopy has been levelled.

  4. Jumping jack flash

    Ordinarily, importing more people should help an economy like ours – services companies need more customers, as do companies that sell imported items from China, but the problem is the wage theft. The wage theft cancels out the effect of importing more people to create growth.

    Of course, to justify creating additional positions and/or raising wages for all our imported workers we would need to create additional revenue, and the easiest way to do that in an economy like ours is to simply raise prices, and then use more debt to pay for the price increases.

    Its a fabulous system.