Tony Abbott to set population growth targets
From: The Australian
April 29, 2010 3:33PM
A COALITION government would set target bands for population growth, Tony Abbott revealed today, declaring Australia will not be able to cope with 36 million people by 2050.
The target bands – for the short, medium and longer term – would work in a similar way to the inflation targets established for the Reserve Bank, according to a Directions Paper released this afternoon.
And the Productivity Commission would become the Productivity and Sustainability Commission, with its role to include advice on population.
We simply cannot sign up Australia blind, as Kevin Rudd has done, to a population of 36 million by 2050, Mr Abbott said.
Australia's population is already growing at one of the highest rates in the developed world, with one person being added to our population every seventy seconds.
Plainly, Australian governments are not adding to our housing, health, educational and transport infrastructure the equivalent of the city of Canberra every year.
Mr Abbott said Mr Rudd could not be trusted to deliver the infrastructure required to support a big Australia given his performance on delivering the home insulation program and the school's stimulus package.
Today's announcement comes as the Opposition attempts to retake the initiative on population after the Mr Rudd appointed Tony Burke as the nation's first population minister earlier this month.
Mr Burke has previously ruled out setting population targets.
The Productivity and Sustainability Commission would help shape a Coalition government's growth target bands for migration planning.
The commission would also review annually Australia's infrastructure needs for short, medium and long term projected population numbers.
Co-ordination of population policy would be managed by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.
Mr Abbott said today if immigration continued at Mr Rudd's current rate of 300,000 newcomers every year, Australia's population would reach 32 million within 20 years and 42 million by 2050.
Mr Abbott said the productivity and sustainability commission would conduct hearings around the country to provide an outlet for community debate on the issue.
Under the Coalition plan, population planning would also be incorporated into the budget process and decisions.
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