More than 160,000 migrants are expected to arrive in Australia every year over the next four years putting unprecedented pressure on Australia’s infrastructure.
A new report reveals government plans to spend billions of dollars into improving roads and transport to cope with exploding population numbers.
Sydney, Melbourne and southeast Queensland have absorbed 75 per cent of the nation’s population growth in the last 10 years.
It means that public transport and roads are now busier than ever and the cost of housing has soared.
‘The freeways have slowed, trains are sometimes at crush capacity and housing construction has not always kept pace,’ said the report, called Planning for Australia’s Future Population.
‘Avoidable congestion is already estimated to cost $25 billion and is forecast to reach $40 billion by 2030 without further change.’
Since 2010, migration rates have outstripped birthrates with about 59 per cent of Australia’s total population growth coming from migration and 41 per cent from natural increase, the report said.
Of those migrating to Australia, the vast majority have moved to urban areas.
In the past 20 years, migrants contributed nearly two-thirds of Sydney’s population increase and half of all population growth in Melbourne and Perth, the report said.
Migrant numbers have overwhelmed the natural increase of births over deaths each year since 2010 by 59 percent to 41 percent, the report showed
International students have added to the pressure, with more than 1,400,000 international student visas granted since June 2015 according to Home Affairs department figures.
Population growth needs to be sustainable, the report said.
‘It needs to occur at a rate where infrastructure and services can be put in place to match the growing population. If this does not occur, the result is increased congestion, housing pressures, pollution and lack of support and amenity. This has adverse consequences for quality of life.’
The report revealed permanent migration will remain at elevated levels for the forseeable future with 160,000 people – more than the population of Darwin – to be imported each year for the next four years.
The government has said it will try to persuade foreign students to study in regional universities to relieve pressure on the cities. More than 1.4 million overseas students have been granted visas since 2015
Australia’s total population is forecast to expand from 25 million to 29.5 million by 2029, the report said.
Both Sydney and Melbourne are expected to add just over a million people each, bloating out to 6.4 million and 6.3 million respectively over the next decade, according to the report’s figures.
The Morrison Government said on Monday that the permanent migration intake had been lowered from 190,000 per year, and it would try to deflect new migrants to regional areas in order to relieve the pressure on Sydney and Melbourne.
Population minister Alan Tudge said the 160,000 yearly cap would include 23,000 skills visas requiring people to work outside the big cities for three years before being eligible for permanent residency.
Seven Designated Area Migration Agreements have been made to allow regional employers to sponsor skilled workers.
Changes have also been made to the Temporary Graduate visa for international students who have completed their studies at a regional campus of a university, so they can continue to live and work in regional Australia, the report said.
$4 billion will be spent on an urban congestion fund to try to relieve pressure on the roads
Mr Tudge said the plan would also create incentives to encourage international students to go to regional areas and smaller cities to study.
The government will also spend billions of dollars on infrastructure to try to relieve the congestion in the pressured capitals.
The report flagged a $4 billion urban congestion fund to try to relieve pressure on the roads, such as that seen last year when thousands of would-be beach goers jammed up the streets of Sydney for kilometers.
Other infrastructure spending to try to alleviate the pressure and shift people to the regions includes $4.5 billion in funding for regional roads connecting ports, airports and freight routes in an effort to boost regional employment, $9.3 billion for an inland rail corridor stretching from Melbourne to Brisbane and $2 billion for a fast rail connection from Melbourne to Geelong.
Economist Leith Van Onselen, who worked for Treasury, Goldman Sachs and now writes for website Macrobusiness, was scathing about both the Coalition and Labor’s plans to cope with mass migration through infrastructure spending or diversion to regional areas.
Commuters at Flinders Street Station in Melbourne. Melbourne’s population is expected to bloat by more than a million people by 2029 putting extra pressure on infrastructure
‘The only ‘solution’ to maintaining Australia’s liveability is to slash immigration back to historical levels – well below 100,000 people a year – to allow housing and infrastructure to keep pace,’ he wrote on Monday.
‘Anything else is treating symptoms, not the cause, and are merely policy smokescreens.’
Daily Mail Australia has asked Mr Tudge’s office for economic modelling to show the cost-benefit analysis of mass migration set at 160,000 per year.