No free passes for poor planning in population policy approach

The Prime Minister’s proposal for a new population framework is a sensible approach to the challenge of better managing a growing Australia – but it cannot give out free passes for states and territories for poor planning or under-investment in infrastructure.

“Our state and territory governments need be part of the conversation through COAG given the critical role they play in delivering essential services and infrastructure,” said Ken Morrison, Chief Executive of the Property Council of Australia.

“However, it can’t become an escape route for the states and territories to shirk their responsibility for good planning or investment in infrastructure to support a growing Australia.

“A joined-up approach to population planning means a greater responsibility for all levels of government to deliver on their part of the bargain.

“The pressures of growth are being felt now, and our population will continue to grow even with adjustments to the immigration intake.

“Australians and migrants will continue to be overwhelmingly attracted to the opportunities presented by our biggest cities, so we need positive plans for these cities as well as our other major cities.

“A growing population is an overwhelming economic and social benefit for Australia and we should be ambitious in our planning for it,” Mr Morrison said.

Mr Morrison said there are plenty of examples from around the world of successful big cities, as well as example of unsuccessful small cities. 

“It’s not their size that matters, it’s how well they’ve been planned,” Mr Morrison said.

“Immigration doesn’t create bad planning: bad planning creates bad planning.”

Mr Morrison said the population framework should be informed by a range of agencies across government including bodies such as Infrastructure Australia and the Productivity Commission to support an objective, evidence-based approach.

“We need governments to agree on the things that will make our cities great, even as they grow and change.

“This is not a risk-free set of decisions. 

“Our future prosperity depends on getting this right. A dramatic population change of gears – which is not what the Prime Minister is proposing – would have a big impact on jobs in construction and across the wider economy,” Mr Morrison said.

Media contact: Matt Francis | M 0467 777 220  | E mfrancis@propertycouncil.com.au