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AN ALTERNATIVE POPULATION PLAN FOR GREATER PERTH (2021-2031)

There are concerns in the community about the McGowan government’s high population density agenda for Greater Perth.

At Population Research WA (PRWA) we explore a gradual population growth scenario. One which is more manageable than the WA Labor government high growth strategy.


Chart 1 below presents moderate growth projections v Labor party policy. By 2031, population would be 40% less than the Government’s planned outcome.

Federal government control Australia’s migration intake. Over the past two decades, immigration policies have led to huge increases in net overseas migration. The outcome has been that State and Local government are left to plan for excessive population growth in their cities, towns and suburbs. In WA the McGowan government have responded with a plan to fast track growth in Greater Perth to 3.5 million people by 2050.

The Federal government’s recent Intergenerational report is advocating the migrant intake to rise from around 60% of population growth to 75% over the coming decades. The report projects Australia’s population will reach 38.8 million by 2060. This will add another 6.5 million people to Australia over the next 20 years. And with that comes all the infrastructure, economic, social and environmental costs.


Due to the Covid 19 pandemic, the West Australia government have proved they are able to efficiently manage public health by controlling the interstate border. However, before the international border closure, Federal immigration policy was becoming unmanageable , especially the uncapped temporary visa program. From 2000 to 2020, Australia’s population grew by a historical high of around 6.5 million people, over 60% from overseas migration.
There is now an excellent opportunity for the WA government to assess the merits of taking on greater border controls, long term. One way could be through devolving greater immigration powers to the States? A policy which enables the WA government and their citizens decide what population policy is best for West Australia and the environment.

A report by eminent Australian Professor Ross Garnaut demonstrated that, “Immigration lowers the incomes and employment prospects of low-income Australians”. Concluding, the key policy lever to fix this is a 50% reduction in net overseas migration (NOM).

As a result, we factored in a 60% reduction in NOM in Greater Perth to 2031 (Chart 1 below). Applying the Australia Bureau of Statistics population projections. Western Australia’s natural population increase has averaged around 16,000 people over the past 30 years. NOM forecasts are more volatile, due to government policy, ideology and industry lobbying. PRWA lower NOM projections are influenced by the unpredictability of the global pandemic and possible longer term border restrictions.


(Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, Population Projections, Australia, Released 22/11/2018)
Note: The projections include assumptions by the Federal government of zero net overseas migration for 2020-21 and 2021-22, due to the Covid 19 pandemic and closure of Australia’s international border.

About Us

Population Research WA is a public interest website, examining the impacts of mass migration and rapid population change in Western Australia.

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Jim Anthony

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