Public Concerned About a ‘Big Australia’
Australians may feel comfortable with a company known as the ‘Big Australian’ but an increasing number of people are feeling uncomfortable with Kevin Rudd’s commitment to a ‘big Australia’.
Since the Prime Minister signed on to a population of 36 million by 2050, many Australians have raised their concerns. Principal amongst them is the liveability and sustainability of our way of life.
While the increased economic activity and business opportunities may be welcomed by business and property developers, a big Australia is not a dream come true if it involves declining living standards, overcrowded cities, more traffic jams, more power blackouts, water restrictions, reduced service delivery and a damaged environment.
Our country needs to be able to absorb a growing population and the consequences that come with it. This will require considered, intelligent planning, adequate infrastructure and resources, and a government not afraid to make the tough decisions.
The Rudd Government is not such a government. To date, it has signed up for an additional 14 million people but has not detailed any plan of how to manage a 60 per cent increase in our population.
Populating without a plan is a recipe for social dysfunction and could radically alter our economic, cultural and social expectations.
Given that many parts of Australia are already suffering from water restrictions, traffic congestion and the like, how will doubling the size of Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney be a net benefit to those who live there?
More importantly, what about the rest of Australia? What are the development policies that will support the maintenance (and growth) of our regional areas?
These and other important issues have been raised in a number of population forums I have been attending across Australia. Through these forums, ordinary Australians have been asked about their hopes, goals, dreams and concerns in respect to Australia’s population; a courtesy that Kevin Rudd didn’t extend before signing up to his big Australia policy.
During these forums, in a sign of the growing maturity of the Australian electorate, subjects like migration are being talked about without the hysterical accusations of xenophobia or racism.
Australians are genuinely concerned for the society we will be leaving our children and grandchildren. They want successive generations to enjoy the freedoms, the homogony, the resources and the wonderful opportunities that we have.
It is clear that there is a willingness to share the Australian way of life with others. Just how many others can and should be able to take advantage of what makes Australia so great is the key question.
The answer will only become evident through a thorough investigation of the future needs of Australian society, a vision and a plan to provide for a sustainable Australia in the generations ahead.
In short, Australia needs a long-term population policy, not a lazy commitment to business as usual or ad-hoc judgement built around political expediency.