When the Prime Minister convenes leaders from the federal, state and territory governments in Adelaide today to consider a more joined up approach to a managing population growth, there’s plenty of evidence around to guide their discussions to a sound outcome.
The Australian desire to access ‘high-amenity’ living, the choice of jobs and careers, educational, social, health, cultural and sporting opportunities, in the larger cities of all our states and territories will continue to grow with our population. As the RBA has noted, this growth has underpinned more than two decades of Australian economic prosperity.
Our own fresh national research shows that 75 per cent agreed that population growth is good if it’s properly planned. 72 per cent agree that our cities can sustain a larger population if they get the infrastructure right.
Melbourne is Australia’s fastest growing city, and voters have just paid the Andrews Government an electoral dividend for its investment in infrastructure and ambitious plans to harness its growth for maximum livability and productivity. The swing was on even in the nation’s fastest growing state electorates. A powerful lesson: the right infrastructure and leadership in the ‘high-amenity’ growth conversation can lead to electoral success.
Infrastructure Australia has also published an important new report - Planning Liveable Cities – which reaffirms the importance of good planning. As IA’s Peter Colacino says: “It is absolutely possible to grow our cities and maintain their character and world-class liveability, but we need to be smarter about how we plan for it”.
Getting all Australian governments around the table to discuss the best management approach for our growing population is a wise move.
Getting that wrong can have serious consequences. The Property Council modelled the proposal by the NSW Government to cut overseas migration to NSW by 50 per cent. The result: a cost to the NSW economy of $130 billion and 200,000 jobs over a decade. The Government says it contests those numbers and we look forward to seeing the NSW Treasury modelling that proposes the damage will be less than 200,000 jobs.
All eyes will be on our leaders in Adelaide today in the hope that the coordinated national population policy that arises out of it will be evidence-rich, strongly led and meet Australians’ aspirations to live and work in great, planned cities.