A Population Policy or a Pre-Election Mirage?

Kathy Cowley
Kathy Cowley

Since our 2017 AGM when Dick Smith spoke of the need for a population policy and limits to what our cities can absorb each year, the concerns increased in the pre-election promises from State and Federal leaders.

In October, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has called for halving NSW’s migrant intake, with the debate on population policy now resting on congestion, living standard, housing affordability, and infrastructure.

Premier Berejiklian appointed an expert panel to develop population policy for NSW.

β€œIt is becoming increasingly clear that the current high rates of population growth are putting even more pressure on our infrastructure. It is now time for us to take stock and get ahead,” she said.

She re-appealed for net overseas migration levels to return to more sustainable Howard-era rates when NSW net overseas migration was steady at around 45,000 a year, rather than the current 100,000.

With both Victoria and NSW lobbying for a review of immigration levels, Prime Minister Scott Morrison is expected to cut the number of migrants coming to Australia by up to 30,000.

Citizenship Minister Alan Tudge stated “Migrants assist the economy and per capita growth as well. But we’ve got to get the balance and the distribution for the growth right.”

Here lies the problem: more than 1 million temporary working visas and 350,000 international student visa holders currently requiring a home while in Australia. How can we ignore that? A population policy without a reduction in the number of future visa holders will not assist in addressing the congestion, living standard, and needs of residents.

What is required is not promises, instead a coherent set of proposals and timetable of how this will occur. Promises without concrete plans will be futile. We have been there before.

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