Lobby For Developers Wary Of Curb On Population

Lobby for developers wary of curb on population

The Sydney Morning Herald
April 5, 2010

URBAN developers are warning the federal government against arbitrary caps on population after Tony Burke was named the country's first population minister.

Urban Taskforce Australia, which represents 85 companies, urged the government to resist pressure from ''anti-growth political forces'' when it draws up Australia's first population plan, reviewing immigration levels against the strains on infrastructure and the environment.

“Any effort by the Australian government to try to lock in immigration or population numbers more than a few years in advance is unlikely to be successful,'' said the taskforce's chief executive, Aaron Gadiel.

“I hope the government doesn't succumb to pressure and try to limit population growth.''

Treasury forecasts suggest the population will rise from 22 million to 35.9 million by 2050, overseas migration being the biggest contributor to that growth.

Yesterday the federal Housing Minister, Tanya Plibersek, said the population strategy would pinpoint areas where social services needed a boost, not just ''hard'' infrastructure, such as roads and railway lines.

Annual migration levels would be set according to need, she said.

''Migration should be determined by what is in the best interest of Australia.''

Recent skills shortages, particularly during the mining boom, required skilled migrants to fill gaps because of the lack of qualified Australians and inadequate local training, she said.

''When we don't have those requirements, it makes sense to moderate immigration intake.''

Despite the growth in numbers, the rate of growth is projected to slow by 14 per cent in the four decades to 2050, compared with the past 40 years of growth.

The Greens and the opposition have criticised the timing of the plan.

The Greens leader, Senator Bob Brown, urged the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, on Saturday to begin an inquiry before the election.

The Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, said the announcement was a ploy to distract attention from the overflow of asylum seekers on Christmas Island.

Last night the Immigration Department would not explain how 2062 asylum seekers were being fitted into detention compounds that have space for 2040 except to say it had ''adequate capacity to handle the current caseload''.

More transfers to the mainland are expected today.

Source: The Age