Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Australia’s Rapid Population Growth Disastrous for Cities

New projections released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics have revised upwards the growth estimates that triggered the Big Australia debate in 2009 and 2010.

At that time it was estimated that Australia was heading for 35 or 36 million by 2050. Now according to the ABS central projection we are tracking for 37.5 million by 2050, and possibly 70 million by 2100.

This growth will be overwhelmingly in Melbourne, Sydney, Perth and Brisbane. Melbourne is set to double by 2060, to 8.5 million, and Perth and Brisbane are also set to double. Sydney will increase by 80%.

This increase will be disastrous for these cities. It will drive traffic congestion and gridlock, high rise and the loss of public open space, a widening gap between rich and poor and social inequality. It will fuel housing unaffordability and job insecurity for our young people.

It makes a farce of the view that population growth in Australia is about populating our regional and remote areas – 14 million of the extra 18 million people projected for 2060 will move into just 4 cities.

The latest upward lift is a consequence of net overseas migration rising yet again. The Bureau of Statistics is now using a net annual migration figure of 240,000 per year, more than double the numbers just 10 years ago. Migration is now the source of 2/3 of our population growth.

To challenge the view that rapid population growth is a good thing, I am setting up a non-government organisation called Victoria First. Its first meeting will be:

·         Sunday, December 1st;

·         10am-12 noon; and

·         Flemington Community Centre, 25 Mt Alexander Rd, Flemington.


  1. The news in The Age today says that Victoria's economy is "going south", and is only marginally above Tasmania's. Victoria's standard of living fell, along with disposable income per capita which is only better than Tasmania's. Victoria is being burdened by heavy costs due to population growth.
    The adage that population growth brings prosperity needs to be trashed. It's only progressive and advantageous if there are jobs, abundant natural resources, and infrastructure.

  2. Thank you Kelvin Thomson for being an enlightened leader. There's so may carbon-cut-out politicians always repeating the same rhetoric about "growth" and we are supposed to agree! Corporations are getting more and more powerful, and democracy is being eroded by bigger populations and diversity. Nothing is to be gained by on-going population growth, and flies in the face of everything that's facing our planet today - climate change, depletion of natural resources, shortages and scarcities etc.

  3. Kelvin, I wish you all the best with your debates on immigration. And congratulate you in starting up Victoria First. I like many Australians am very concerned with the current immigration debate. There appears to be no science behind the prevailing argument that a big Australia is good for us all.

    I read an interesting book on this Topic by Author George Magnus “The Age of Ageing”. The prevailing argument in Australian politics is that high immigration has a positive impact on the Labour force and importantly the dependency ratio (reducing the payments of pensions, and employment benefits). But Magnus refutes this theory by showing that the overall employment participation rate in his country the USA barely differed in the last 3 decades despite huge immigration levels. However, it did increase traffic congestion but did not reduce the dependency ratio. Because immigrants arrive with dependents and as they age themselves they become dependents too. This kind of study is surely what Australian demographers could look at impacts of high immigration on dependency ratio here instead of nodding their heads in agreement with politicians?

  4. Kelvin all the best with Victoria First and I applaud your stance on population. Over here in Perth WA rapid population growth is causing social misery with housing prices and traffic congestion. The levels here have reached an all time high 82,00 for the year to Macrh 2013 (see ABS data). This means that we now have population growing at 3.4%. This is the highest in the developed worls and higher than many 3rd World countries (see World Bank Pop growth figurs 2013). It seems to me the Federal Governmment have lost control of the population levers.

  5. We are losing even our iconic national symbols, such as Qantas and Holden, unemployment is on the rise, and real estate is so expensive that even foreign investors are shrinking away! The irony is that both sides of politics believe in a "big Australia" and heavy immigration levels. It's adding to our costs of living, species extinction rates, housing/living costs, and our declining lifestyles. Our educational levels are declining, and so are industries. We need some direction on how to end the "big" addiction, and to drive some common sense policies to get away from damaging political megalomania! We should be trim, efficient, productive, streamlined and focused. Like sprinters, they need to win the race by being finely tuned, well-trained, efficient and optimised - excessive bulk is detrimental. Australia is becoming bigger in bulk, but not honed in and better - our population obesity is hanging heavily over our lives and needs to end. Bigger is not necessarily better.