Sustainable Population Report: Where’s the Strategy?

The sustainable population report released today articulates important national objectives but does not provide the strategy needed to achieve them, said Business Council of Australia Chief Executive Jennifer Westacott.

“Following a comprehensive consultation process, including papers by three advisory panels, this report does little more than restate that the size, composition and location of Australia’s population must achieve our economic, social and environmental goals,” said Ms Westacott.

“Without a clear strategy or even any scenarios of how our future population might look, the report does not provide any foundation for planning or investment. It will not give business or the community the confidence they are looking for that the growth of our population is being effectively managed.”

Ms Westacott said the BCA had expected a national population strategy that:

  • acknowledged and committed to well-managed population growth through the first half of this century in line with moderate projections outlined in the Intergenerational Report of 36 million people by 2050
  • set out population policies consistent with this projected growth path and a policy framework that will be coordinated across all government portfolios
  • laid out how the federal government would engage the support of state and territory governments who will be largely responsible for managing growth in cities and towns
  • suggested a process for regular review to ensure the strategy was supporting Australia to meet social, economic and environmental goals.

“What the country needs is for government to develop a population strategy that actually reflects what’s happening out there, and offers a path to achieve the population objectives the minister has identified,” said Ms Westacott. “We need some policy honesty.

“Governments cannot avoid the reality of population growth and the obvious need for better planning, better infrastructure and better consultation with the community.

“Having taken all the relevant national and international factors into account, the BCA believes the pace and scale of growth projected in the Intergenerational Report is a sensible guide to what is needed to meet the social, economic and environmental objectives the government has outlined today,” she said

“The federal government has both an opportunity and a responsibility to provide the national direction needed to achieve our national goals.”

Click here to read the BCA’s Framework for the Development of Australia’s Population Strategy and our submission on the government’s discussion paper.