Coalition rejects Rudd's 'big Australia' plan
By a staff reporter
April 29, 2010
The federal opposition has rejected the Rudd government's population projection, saying it would instead seek to ensure that Australia's migration plan was sustainable.
If elected, the coalition said it would assign a renamed Productivity Commission to review Australias infrastructure needs based on short, medium and long-term projected population numbers.
“Within three months of taking office, a Coalition government would re-constitute the Productivity Commission as the Productivity and Sustainability Commission and task it with an annual review of Australias infrastructure needs,” Opposition Leader Tony Abbott and Shadow Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said in a joint statement.
The coalition said the federal government had presided over rising immigration numbers without the requisite investment in housing, health and transport infrastructure.
Under its alternative population policy, a coalition government would seek to establish a credible and independent source of advice on population growth, the statement said.
It would also set up a population growth band target and an independent inquiry into community attitudes to future population growth, as well as introducing population planning into the budget and maintaining focus on skilled migration.
“The coalition will seek to restore public confidence in the integrity of our migration program, by ensuring that it is consistent with a sustainable population growth path,” Mr Abbott and Mr Morrison said.
The government expects the Australian population to grow to 36 million by 2050, with Mr Rudd saying in January that productivity needed to be raised if the nation was to meet the challenges of an ageing population.
Mr Rudd said by 2050, there would be only 2.7 working-age Australians for every one aged 65 or more. There are now about five working-age Australians for each citizen over 65. Four decades ago there were 7.5.
The grim predictions came from the government's third intergenerational report, which forecasts that the proportion of the population aged 65 and over will jump from about 14 per cent now to about 23 per cent by 2050.