Population growth may diminish quality of living

Infrastructure Australia has warned that the government needs to start planning if its forecast of a population increase of 12 million will indeed happen in the next 30 years.

Much of this growth is expected in major capital cities such as Sydney and Melbourne. If the government does not move to plan ahead, these cities will see a decrease in the availability of jobs and housing.

Learning from the past

Research came out late last year that shows Australia as a whole is not currently suffering from a housing shortage; nor are the inner-city areas of Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane. Australia has built 164,000 more units than it needs for its growing population.

However, the real problem with building sufficient housing to accommodate population is that although people are buying new houses in growth areas, jobs are not following them, according to Jago Dodson, director of RMIT University’s Center for Urban Research.

In stark contrast, Victoria is underprepared for its booming population and needs to keep up with demands for new homes, according to a report from the Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA). Despite the state's record-high levels of housing projects, it fell short of 9,000 new properties in the past two years. 

"We're simply not building enough to meet the demands of the population growth we're seeing here in Melbourne," said UDIA's Victorian chief executive, Danni Addison.

The thing that worries Addison the most is that the population-growth forecast, which constantly grows, has also been constantly under-represented by government agencies.

"The lesson here for industry, government and community is to wake up to the fact that population growth is happening," Addison said. "It's not something we can stop or change or move elsewhere. We really need to plan better for it."

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