Last Nights ABC Four Corners program Big Australia: Are we ready? has further invigorated the population debate that has recently been rekindled in Australia.
Property Council of Australia Chief Executive Ken Morrison welcomed the debate, but called for people to look past anti-immigration fearmongering and focus on the opportunity to plan for great cities and liveable communities.
“Beware the false prophets who tell you Australia can magically switch off population growth and then all our problems will be solved,” Mr Morrison said.
“This stick your head in the sand approach simply isn’t feasible and just distracts from the need to plan and invest for the future.
“We need to turn a potentially polarising debate about immigration and population into a constructive and collaborative conversation about how we plan for future generations.
“Australians are living longer and new Australian families are created every day. Moreover, this country has always had a significant migration program. So population growth is an Australian reality, whether immigration is lifted or lowered.
“The argument that there is no way to cope with population growth is a false one.
“You can plan and invest for growth, and we’ve had plenty of recent expert advice on this topic from the Reserve Bank, Infrastructure Australia, the Productivity Commission and the Grattan Institute.
“We’ve done a lot of things right in Australia, but if we are going to have great cities, suburbs and towns in the future we need to plan and invest for it.
“The cost of not doing this is borne by everyday Australians through congestion, unaffordable housing and inadequate services.
“The weight of independent, expert advice on the actions needed to build vibrant, sustainable cities increases on an almost daily basis.
“Only last week the Reserve Bank added their analysis with new quantitative evidence showing that restrictive zoning is a key reason for Australia’s high and rising house prices.
“This follows hot on the heels of Infrastructure Australia’s major report into the growth trajectory of our big cities. That report focused on the policy tools needed to help prepare our cities for the next three decades.
“Planning reform, the bringing forward of infrastructure investment, better coordination between all levels of government and sensible approaches to density are all solutions that the Property Council has championed.
“The highly emotive, but hardly original, anti-growth arguments being rolled out by all the usual suspects fail to take any of this evidence into consideration.
“So let’s have a community debate, but let’s not get distracted from the need to plan and invest for future generations.”