POST 81: POPULATION RESEARCH PROPOSES A LOW IMPACT GROWTH STRATEGY FOR GREATER PERTH

Introduction

Population Research has developed a low social and environmental impact growth strategy for Greater Perth, 2021-2031.

Using ABS data, we estimate Perth will be a much more liveable place if population growth averages around 23,000 per/year to 2031.

This will result in nearly 40% less population growth than the Labor Party’s population goal.

Our growth strategy reflects the approach taken by influential West Australian born economist, and government advisor Professor Ross Garnaut. In his new book, Reset: Restoring Australia After The Pandemic Recession he outlines the consequences of the explosion in temporary migration.

A big reduction in temporary migration is required

The Professor demonstrated the major dynamic driving Australia’s wage stagnation between 2013 and 2020 was the nation’s immigration policy.

From 2013 to 2020, households experienced zero increase in disposable income. “Immigration now lowers the incomes and employment prospects of low-income Australians”.

Professor Garnaut says much lower immigration will hold back total output growth in coming years, but it “might improve the living standards of most Australians”.

The fault line in immigration policy has been the conversion from high skilled permanent migration sourcing independent applicants from overseas. To temporary migration, which made things much harder for some Australian workers.

The shift in policy caused Australia’s population to swell by 35 per cent since 2000, from 19 million to roughly 25.6 million by July last year.

That’s worth reading again. Our population swelled by 35 per cent in 20 years.

Professor Garnaut says those higher levels of migration and the explosion of temporary migration had social and cultural as well as economic consequences.

He concluded the key policy lever to fix this is a 50% reduction in net overseas migration (NOM).

This is a very positive contribution to the mass migration debate by the influential economist

It’s time for exciting new population and migration policies

Population Research has carried out significant research over time demonstrating the build up of community and environmental impacts in West Australia, due to very high NOM.

Reflecting the call by the Professor for a 50% reduction in NOM we have adopted the Australian Bureau of Statistics population projections. And have modified their NOM predictions factoring in a 60% reduction for Greater Perth to 2031, due to the long-term recovery required from COVID-19.

Our resulting NOM estimate is an average of around 8,000 per year .The Labor Party aim is for an average about 25,000 per year to 2031.

This is very significant, the main difference is that our calculation includes natural increase as the largest portion, at 56% of growth, NOM makes up 40% and net interstate migration the remainder.

West Australia’s natural population increase has been consistent, averaging just over 16,000 per annum for the past three decades. We apply the ABS forecast, for the next decade natural increase at about 15,000 per year to 2031.

NOM forecasts are much more unpredictable due to ideological positions on mass migration, lack of policy judgement and changes in government.

Social cohesion should be paramount when a government decides on how many new migrants it can reasonably integrate into society. When the immigrant population shoots up quickly, will these sudden cultural changes play a critical role in undermining integration?

Population Research WA estimates are based on the need for a socially responsible population strategy. We are hopeful the Western Australian Party will be able to amplify the community benefits of a gradual population growth strategy as a vision for Greater Perth

To name but one of the benefits of lower population density is the field of suburban planning and minimum family lot sizes at 500m2. This type of alternative to high density, would be welcomed by West Australian’s planning hoping to start a family in lots with adequate outdoor space for children.

Chart 1 below presents the gradual growth strategy developed for the Western Australia Party going into the 2021 State election. By 2031, population would be 40% less than the McGowan government’s planned outcome.

(Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2018)

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