It seems clear that our new Prime Minister has got the message on population growth. One of her first policy statements has been to state she does not believe in a "Big Australia". Rudd also backed off from his earlier comments about believing in a "Big Australia" when he appointed Tony Burke as Population Minister but his brief was very woolly indicating Burke would "develop a strategy".
Gillard has firmly stated that Burke would now be known as Minister for a sustainable population (Age 27th June 2010). So far Australia has not had a population policy and we hope that the new direction will develop an acceptable policy which sets a limit on the number of migrants to the levels of the 80's and 90's at around 70.000 per annum. This would provide growth at a more sustainable level according to Dr. Bob Birrell, Centre for Population & Urban Resaerch, Monash University. Dr Birrell also believes that this level would support the issues surrounding our aging society.
Currently Australia's population is 22,365,823 (ABS. 27TH June 2010). The rate of growth peaked at 2.2% ( growing at the rate of around 430,000 p.a.) but this has now slowed to 2%. Because Australia had no set population policy, net overseas migration reached over 300.000 in 2008/9 which was far too high.The trend in 2010 is similar.
Victoria's population is heading towards 5 million and we urged the previous Premier to back off from encouraging migration to Victoria (and Melbourne in particular). We say he needed to curb his oft-stated ambition to make Melbourne bigger than Sydney.
Note: since posting this report there have been some statements from both sides of parliament indicating that the message from us has been recieved but the indications so far are that the push for population growth to feed the development industry will continue.
We welcome the change of government in Victoria and look forward to further changes in both NSW and Queensland which may add to the pressure on the Gillard Govt to act more decisively on population.