THE Planning Institute of Australia (PIA) last week announced it supported Prime Minister Julia Gillard's change in emphasis of national population policy, saying the change in strategy represents a more measured approach to population growth for Australia.
"The Prime Minister's approach is not advocating that there shouldn't be an increase in population or that certain areas should not be subject to more substantial increases over others, but by inclusion of the word sustainable, it helps shape the policy debate around other critical issues linked to population growth, which includes things such as patterns of consumption, demographic change, the speed of growth and the capacity to transition," said PIA President, Neil Savery.
Mr Savery said the change in strategy links to our ability to meet current and future greenhouse gas emission targets and to build resilient communities to combat the impacts of climate change.
PIA said that while it intended to make a more detailed submission to the government on population growth, there are five principles that should drive population policy, including:
- Inward migration should be equitable in its distribution, have long-term predictability and be linked to employment growth;
- Significant infrastructure investment to support a growing population in the major cities;
- Consideration must be given to the development of regional cities as destinations for all Australians, including migrants;
- Protection of productive agricultural land, supply of water and energy, issues of salinity, flooding and the environmental protection of threatened species must shape the fringe growth of all cities, including smaller regional centres; and
- Adjustment of Australia's appetite to consume beyond its means and generate waste in way that pollutes the environment, including the gases contributing to global warming, if Australia is to accommodate an increase in population in a sustainable and responsible way.
"PIA members want to see a healthy, vibrant future for Australia. Interstate migration, natural population growth and inward migration all support lively cities and a strong economy. A sustainable population policy based on the issues outlined above would form the basis of more support from the broader community for strategic population growth in Australia", Mr Savery said.