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Opening the forum

Dr Mary E White, Paleobotanist and author

It will come as no surprise to any of you who are familiar with my books, that I believe it is necessary to consider the Big Picture and I see Sydney’s population in the context of the population of the continent of Australia.

It will also be no surprise to find that I believe that it is the continent itself, as a result of its history through geological time, that has set the parameters for its sustainable use – and therefore for the population it can sustain. It sounds like a cliché, but Australia is unique – It is an island continent, an ancient landmass with some of the oldest landscapes found anywhere on Earth.

There are advantages for us in being a separate island with jurisdiction of one government over it all. All we need is for those in power to think locally before they think globally and destroy our basic resources of soil and water – resources we are currently mining in our attempts to be part of the global economy. We currently feed 80 million people and if we continue as we are doing now, running down our basic resources, we will not be able to feed 20 million Australians within a generation.

Australia is the flattest and most poorly drained, and largely inward-draining continent; with a highly saline water-table underlying huge areas. We are all beginning to realise the gravity of the salinisation problems that result from misreading the capacity of the land to sustain current management regimes. It has the poorest soils – only 6% are of arable quality and those still need added fertilisers. Salinisation, erosion, acidification and other ills are mounting problems under current patterns of usage. Its grazing lands, the semi-arid lands in particular, have proved very fragile and are desertifying rapidly; Australia is the driest continent, with 70% desert or acutely arid and a further 15% with some degree of aridity, so only 15% is reasonably well-watered.

Arid lands of the world have proved to be very fragile and we have only to look at the man-made deserts of the Middle East to see what inappropriate management and expectations do to such lands. It has the most variable climate, due to ENSO, and is a land of floods and droughts and its rivers have the most variable flow patterns of any in the world.

Management of its water resources is the most crucial of all its problems. Our water resources are fully committed, over-committed if we are honest, and even with better management this is the case, as that better management has to go into restoring viable natural flows to our over-stressed systems. A nation with its major rivers dead or dying is in a very precarious position.

Australia’s biodiversity loss and the number of extinctions of plants and animals are among the worst in the world – and biodiversity loss is the most serious problem that results from global human over-population. Experts predict that in the lifetime of a child born today, half the species alive on Earth today will probably become extinct. Australia has a special responsibility – because of the high rate of endemism in our flora and fauna, we and only we can preserve our biodiversity.

We hear much about Ecologically Sustainable Development – yet it is an oxymoron when the system is Economy driven. It is sobering to realise that we have reached a stage where to continue as we are doing now will see Australia becoming a 3rd World country within a generation or so – and any of us who have travelled know what happens to major cities in 3rd world countries.

So it is against this realistic background that we should look at population and the carrying capacity of the nation. This is not a large, empty landmass asking to be filled, or capable of supporting any density of people, except in the 15% that is reasonably well-watered, and that fragment has to accommodate other intensive uses. We have a small window of opportunity now to put our house in order by achieving a complete socio-economic readjustment and repairing the damage we have done, where possible. We do not need a population increase to succeed, in fact quite the opposite; and our resources as a nation should be directed towards avoiding acute environmental crisis, not increasing urbanisation.We are already the most urbanised of nations with more than 86% of our people in the big cities and large and medium sized country towns.

That is the big picture, and we disregard it at our peril. So, to come to Sydney and its population: I shall listen with interest as I am sure you will all do, to the experts who have been gathered here today to present their views from different perspectives. Mine is probably not a popular perspective, but I see this smaller picture within the bigger one in much the same light.

We have the same small window of opportunity to pause, reflect on our values, consolidate, and repair infrastructure—both physical and social. We can no longer allow urban sprawl to continue, using land that is a substantial proportion of the small amount that is capable of being used for intensive production. We cannot have cities using more water, in fact our wasteful use of water has to be curbed now. Our city infrastructure of sewers and other services is already at the point of collapse in some of the older suburbs. Where I live, the sewers leak perpetually and overflow whenever it rains; underground water pipes leak and are so rusty that it is almost impossible to mend local breaks; and above ground is a forest of poles and wires....

The far outlying suburbs are mainly soulless, without amenities that make for enriched life styles, and public transport is a nightmare...

As I see it, a bigger city inevitably means more cars, more greenhouse pollution, less quality of life. Already we should be saying no more sprawl, no more land developments; any new building only replacing old and using the no-longer used industrial sites; absolutely no violation of remnant bush pockets for the sake of urban wildlife and our aesthetic needs. All this is how it is under present conditions, and global greenhouse warming has to be taken into account. Sydney can expect more climatic extremes – worse storms, even some cyclones. Sealevel rise in a city that sprawls around hundreds of kilometers of coastline and water frontage hardly bears thinking about.

It takes far more political courage and wisdom to restructure and repair the foundations. Until we see population size as limited by the sort of parameters I have outlined for you, more people, bigger city only means more problems, and, worse than that, we will be robbing our children and their children of a decent standard of living. I believe we can be world leaders in planning for a realistic future for our city and our nation based on sound foundations. On that optimistic note, it gives me great pleasure to declare this forum officially opened.

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The Forum Format

Bob Walshe OAM, Chairman. Sutherland Shire Environment Centre

We wish to acknowledge at the outset the generosity of the Local Government Superannuation Scheme in helping us to keep registration fees to a minimum, which hasbeen a factor in assembling such a large audience today.

There is only one change to the program advertised in the brochure that went out nationally early in December. The speaker for the midday slot, Director-General of the Department of Urban Affairs and Planning Ms Sue Holliday, withdrew eleven days ago citing personal reasons. We know there will be disappointment about this. We asked for a speech that could be read or from another speaker from the Department and we also called the Minister, Dr Refshauge, but no substitute from the Department was made available. With only a few days left, we tried several alternatives and at last learned of a recently published book on Sydney's urban problems, Community Ties, by the State MP for the Hills district, Mr Michael Richardson, who has graciously stepped into the breach.

Ladies and gentlemen, this Forum had its genesis in a remark reported in early November from an address by the Immigration Minister to an Australian National University seminar. Mr Ruddock said: "…the Australian Bureau of Statistics projects that 75 per cent of all population growth will occur in the major cities. This has prompted some to argue that the upper bounds of population growth will be linked to the capacity of these cities to absorb more people and our ability to manage and re-shape them." Hence this Forum's focus on Sydney.

Hence, too, Sutherland Shire's great interest - because, in a sense, this Shire is a microcosm of Australia's profound concern with urban change, urban growth. With 215,000 residents, we are the second largest of Sydney's 43 local government areas (after Blacktown): the population of this urban Shire is a good deal more numerous than the population of the entire Northern Territory. And yet we are only an eighteenth part of the population of Sydney.

That tells us something about the significance of those half-dozen major cities within the vastness of the Australian continent.

Remember, last year the Territory made a strong bid for statehood. Now there's a thought... Sutherland Shire has much more justification to secede from New South Wales as the seventh state! All the questions of development and overdevelopment can be found here. We continually find ourselves obliged to the confront State Government with our problems and protests - and may I say we've been looking forward to today's galaxy of speakers to teach us how to do that more effectively. The speakers represent most aspects of the complex population problem.

While the focus is on Sydney, the Forum has understandably taken on something of a national character through its wide concerns, through its speakers many of whom are nationally known, and through you, the audience who have come from far and wide. Every shade of opinion should find an opportunity for expression today: through the speakers of course, but also through audience participation - in the form, first, of the questions you choose to direct after each speaker's address; second, in the questions directed to this afternoon's Panel; third in the contribution you may wish to make to the Panel debate; and, may I add, a fourth, in all the valuable talk at morning and afternoon tea and over lunch.

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Scenarios for the future population of Sydney

Professor Peter McDonald, Head, Demography program, Research School of Social Science, Australian National University.

Most of the work that I have been doing has been at the national level, and I'm about to embark upon quite major work at a regional level, working for the Australian Housing andUrban Research Institute. They are going to be doing projections of population and housing and households at a regional level, over about seventy regions in Australia. And so I was grateful for the opportunity to start having a look at Sydney.

As that quotation from Mr Ruddock said, the situation of the cities, and Sydney, is different to the national level. And that needs to be taken into account. I'm going roughly to be telling the story that everybody is speaking about - one million in twenty years and then another million in the thirty years after that.

I'm going to go through the demographic trends first.

Demographic trends

Fertility

At 1.73 births per woman, Sydney's fertility rate is relatively high. After Darwin, it has the highest fertility rate of any Australian capital city. Also, as the chart shows, Sydney's fertility rate has levelled off over the past few years

This is in sharp contrast to Melbourne where the fertility rate has shrunk to 1.58 and is still falling. Although I have not made precise calculations, the difference between the two cities is almost certainly related to the differing ethnic compositions of the two cities.

In Sydney, the high fertility rate of recent first generation immigrants from the Middle East, the Pacific and to a lesser extent, Vietnam, contrasts with the very low fertility rates of the second generation of Southern European origin in Melbourne. You expect to get relatively high fertility rates in fringe LGAs. People live there because of the nature of the housing and because they have children. This is the case in Sydney but, in Sydney, the highest fertility rates are in Auburn, Liverpool, Blacktown, Fairfield and Canterbury-Bankstown. Ethnic composition is clearly playing a part. In projecting Sydney's fertility rate, we could expect a return to falling fertility as this high fertility first generation immigrant group shifts to older ages unless they are replaced by others with high fertility rates.So, the range of options for the future fertility (TFR) is probably between about 1.5 and 1.7 births per woman.

International migration trends

Sydney constitutes about 1/5 of Australia's population but about 2/5 of net overseas permanent and long-term migration goes to Sydney. Probably more move to Sydney relatively soon after arrival. For example, anecdotal evidence suggests that the refugees from Iraq and Afghanistan, once released from the detention camps, find their way to Sydney. Hence, any change in the number of overseas migrants coming to Australia has a much bigger impact on Sydney than it does on Australia as a whole.

When net migration for Australia is 90,000 (about the present level), net overseas migration to Sydney is about 34,000. If net overseas migration were to jump to 110,000 per year, the Sydney component would be about 42,000. As the main debate at present at the national level is between the present level of migration and a somewhat higher level, for the projections, I consider overseas migration to Sydney ranging between 34,000 per annum and 42,000 per annum. This corresponds with the most recent Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) projections.

Recent trends have been consistent with the lower end of this range

. While there are those who call for the diversion of international migrants away from Sydney, past schemes to attract international migrants to other places have been less than successful. Furthermore, there has been a shift in the migration stream to long-term temporary migrants and away from permanent migrants. The skilled temporary stream are highly likely to move to Sydney because of its status as an international financial centre. Thus, there seems little likelihood that the attraction of Sydney for international migrants is likely to abate.

Internal migration

A 1994 Discussion paper entitled, Sydney's Future states that, as more people come from overseas to Sydney, more Sydney residents leave for other places in NSW or Australia. This is a view held by others as well who state that rising international migration is not a problem for Sydney because an equal number of Sydney residents would leave. The mechanism for this is said to be housing prices. The theory is that a larger international migration intake would force up the price of housing in Sydney. As this happens, young people leave Sydney because they cannot afford its rents or those who own houses sell up and move elsewhere realising a capital gain. While we might question the desirably of spiralling housing prices as a 'good thing', examination of trends in the past provides some credence to this theory.

However, there is another interpretation. The peak years of movement out of Sydney in the past 30 years have been 1974, 1981 and 1990. These are all recession years. Thus, an equally plausible theory is that movements in and out of Sydney are a function of the business cycle. As international migration drops off in recession years and internal migration increases, this gives the surface impression that internal migration out of Sydney has risen in relation to previous high international migration. The slide shows that the rise in international migration to Sydney since 1993 has not been matched by a rise in internal migration out of Sydney. Thus, I believe that we need to be sceptical of the proposition that a rise in international migration to Sydney would automatically lead to a rise in internal migration out of Sydney. Indeed, since 1993, net overseas migration to Melbourne has been rising steadily while at the same time internal migration has turned from negative 19,000 per annum to positive 4,000. There is an argument that the change in the nature of the economy and the labour force is drawing people towards the two major cities. An American researcher, Saskia Sassen, has shown that with the growth of the information economy, population has grown in the major financial centres that are the capitals of the information economy. This is counter to the notion that people can be located anywhere in an information economy.

Thus, in the projections, I have taken two possibilities for migration. The first, a gain of 22,000 persons per annum, is a continuation of present levels of both internal and international migration. The second assumption, 34,000 per annum, is based on the number of international migrants that would come to Sydney if overseas net migration to Australia rose to 110,000 and internal out migration from Sydney fell from 12,000 per year to 8,000 per year. Note, the present level of net migration to Melbourne is about 30,000 per year.

Age structures of migrants are applied separately for internal and external migration based on recent experience for Sydney.

Not in the short term but in the longer term, two factors could move net migration to Sydney out of the 22-34,000 range. First, as the baby-boom generation reaches retirement, some may take the coast option. More on this later. Second, flows into Sydney from both overseas and other parts of Australia are contingent upon Sydney maintaining its position as a world financial capital. If Sydney should lose this status, then, not just Sydney but Australia as a whole will slip into the situation now faced by Tasmania and New Zealand.

Mortality

All the projections assume the same future mortality as is assumed for Australia as a whole by the ABS. In fact, expectations of life for Sydney are slightly higher for Sydney than for all of Australia at present, but the difference is not significant.

Projections

The first slide contrasts two projections.

Both set the fertility rate at 1.5 by the end of this decade. They have two different migration assumptions.

As I project the populations forward (below), you will notice that the age structure gets older, but the age structure of the two projections is very similar.

After 50 years, (below) the projection with an additional 12,000 net migration adds about 700,000 extra people to Sydney, but makes almost no difference to its age structure. At the end of the period, Sydney's population is still growing according to both projections - by about 14,000 per year in the 22,000 migration projection and by about 28,000 per year in the 34,000 migration projection. That is, natural increase is negative in both cases. The total populations range from 5.7 million to 6.4 million. Thus, the six million theme used in this meeting is apposite.

This slide shows you the difference if the fertility rate remains around its present level. The main features are that the population is wider at the base, that is, it is younger and the range of the total population extends out to 6.8 million. Natural increase would remain positive at the end of the projection period.









This slide (below) summarises the total population from the four projections. All show considerable growth with a population of 5 million by about 2020 and 6 million by 2050.

This slide (below) compares one of the Sydney projections, the lowest, with what is happening to the rest of Australia in a consistent projection (1.56 TFR and 90,000 ANM).







This is a projection for Australia that leads to the 25 million population in 50 years time and close to zero growth subsequently. The essential difference between the two is that the Sydney population is younger. The Sydney population is beehive-shaped and the rest of Australia is somewhat coffin-shaped. As we shift Melbourne, Brisbane etc from the right side to the left side, this impression would become very pronounced. That is, a projection that provides a reasonable outlook for Australia is the sum of high population growth in the existing cities with considerable ageing and labour supply decline in the non-metropolitan regions. We need more work on this and we shall be doing this as a component of the AHURI study of future housing needs.

This slide (below) summarises the point showing the total population trends.

The proportion of Sydney's population aged 65 years and over (below). The difference in migration leads to the differences between the lines of the same colour. The differences between the lines of different colours indicates the effects of different fertility. Fertility as expected and as already discussed has a larger impact that migration, but the central conclusion is that the variation in ageing across these projections is very small (22.8% to 24.8% aged 65+). A doubling of the aged proportion is inevitable.

Here we have (below) the balance of births against deaths in the four projections. In the lowest projection, births exceed deaths around 2036. If fertility were to remain at 1.7 births per woman, births exceed deaths throughout the 50 years of the projection, but would cross in the next decade.

For many purposes, it is important to project the future number of households (below) rather than persons. It is likely that single person households consume more than half of the consumption of two person households.

That is, consumption is likely to rise as household size falls. There are also implications for housing policy of smaller households. The table shows that the average size of households is set to fall sharply in the coming two decades. Between 1996 and 2021, Sydney gains 980,000 people but 560,000 households. Thus the rate of growth of households is considerably faster than the rate of growth of population.

 

This (below) shows the change in the types of households over 25 years from 1996 to 2021. Unfortunately the data relate to NSW rather than to Sydney, but the picture for Sydney would be similar. The big growth occurs for couples without children and for lone person households - two and one-person households. Each of these groups increases by more than 300,000 households.

Together, these two household types would constitute well over half of all Sydney households. They are concentrated at the older and the younger ages, over 50 and under 30. However, there is still growth in the numbers of families with children, especially one-parent families.

Discussion

The question is: where do we place half a million additional housing units in Sydney over the next 20 years and what types of housing should be provided. There are few greenfields sites left. The Badgery's Creek region has just become an option again and there is no better way to stop a future airport than to construct houses there. But there are environmental issues involved in filling up more of the already fragile Nepean basin with houses. Young one and two person households have already indicated a strong preference for inner city, medium and high-density housing. This group will probably spread out from the inner areas to the next circle as prices rise in the inner area.

Price rises will be affected by the growing numbers of temporary international migrants who have a strong demand for medium and high density inner city housing. So gentrification is likely to spread further out from the centre. We see this, for example, in the redevelopment of old factory sites along the Parramatta River. Getting rid of a few more dirty factories from the centre of the city is not such a bad idea - and almost certainly, inevitable.

A key issue is what the empty-nest couples will do. I have already speculated about whether they will leave Sydney altogether, but will they want to move into new, medium and high density housing in the inner parts of the city. If some do, that would free up houses for the families with children further out and perhaps obviate the need for major new greenfields development. However, I imagine most will stay in their houses in the suburbs that they know and love so that they remain close to their grandchildren, tend their gardens, participate in the local community and have space available for their children to return whenever their domestic arrangements fall apart. If this is the case, as the young generations in Penrith and Campbelltown, Gosford and Sutherland grow up, form relationships and have children, they will be looking for more three bedroom houses close to where they grew up - just as their parents did in moving from Parramatta to Penrith or from Hurstville to Sutherland. Where do they go?

Also, are we ready for the ageing of the population? Do we have sufficient housing suitable for older one- and two-person households in outer areas? Older people may wish to remain in their own locality but be unable to cope in their present style of housing. If they move out of their larger houses, these would become available for younger families. But some who are still a bit younger and a bit healthier may attempt to prevent older people being housed in their own locality because this would mean building new medium density housing in the locality. When it comes to providing suitable housing for older Australians, the NIMBY syndrome will be an obstacle.

Can Sydney grow outside Sydney? The paper I referred to earlier on Sydney's Future recommended that Sydney grow in Newcastle, not the whole extra two million but some of them. I like to keep an open mind but I would have to say that I am sceptical of this option as well. It doesn't fit the nature of the changing Sydney economy. To refer to Sassen again, the information age is promoting greater concentration rather than dispersion.

While I dislike coming to Sydney the city in which I was born and grew up because it is fast and congested, other people thrive on this kind of environment. Thus, while it all sounds horrendous to me, I suspect that Sydney planners have little choice but to plan for a future with six million people in Sydney in 50 years time. A master plan of infrastructure for this development would be a useful way to assess where problems are likely to arise. States now have their GST tax revenue base. This gives them greater potential to plan their own destinies.

In preparing this presentation, I have made use of the excellent reports prepared by the Victorian Department of Infrastructure. NSW could do well to emulate this work. But the comparison with Melbourne has left me with another thought and that is that the two cities should in future see themselves as being more complementary than competitive.

Melbourne is well placed to be the leading port for both sea and air transport. Its capacity to move goods is way superior to that of Sydney. It is well placed for whatever manufacturing that remains necessary in Australia. Sydney is not well placed for manufacturing or shipping of hard goods. It is primarily a financial and information centre. As Melbourne's fertility rate falls, perhaps some of Sydney's future population can be diverted to Melbourne rather than to Newcastle.

Peter Woods later today is talking about whole of State development. Maybe there is even more scope across borders. Ideas of a very fast train have fallen by the wayside because they are judged to be not viable from the perspective of the number of passengers carried - but what about very fast freight trains from Sydney to Melbourne? Or combined freight and passenger services? If the Cabinets of the two States can meet to talk about the Murray River - a great initiative - maybe they can talk about cooperative development on a much wider scale.

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Population Stabilisation: Australia 24 Million, Sydney 6 Million.

Hon Philip Ruddock, Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs and Minister for Reconciliation and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs.

I have been asked to speak today on the subject of population stabilisation: Australia 24 million, Sydney 6 million.I welcome this invitation because it gives me the chance to reflect on two equally important aspects of the population debate in Australia: the total number of people who will be living in Australia in fifty years time; and where and how they will live.

I would first like to discuss the issue of Australia's total population. The figure of 24 million is approximately what the Australian Bureau of Statistics projects for the year 2050, assuming that net overseas migration continues at around current levels (after allowing for fluctuations in the economic cycle) and the fertility rate does not fall too much further. I have often said that most Australians would not find the prospect of a population of this size in fifty years time too alarming.

The most important feature of such a population is that it would be stable - not increasing and not decreasing - and no longer ageing. This would have a number of benefits:

As Professor McDonald has shown, the only other way to reach a stable population within fifty years is through increasing the fertility rate to replacement level (2.1 children per woman) and having zero net overseas migration. Now I think there are two problems with this: no nation has ever succeeded in raising its fertility rate in such a fashion; and zero net migration would mean strictly curtailing the entry to Australia of spouses and children of Australians, New Zealanders, students and working holidaymakers and skilled migrants and temporary workers.

The alternatives to a stable population are, of course, a population that continues to grow, or a population that begins to shrink. There are problems with both.

A population that continues to grow strongly after 2050, as proposed by a number of groups, could present ongoing environmental problems and would be difficult to achieve without drastically lowering immigration standards. In contrast, a population that reaches stability by mid century, while still entailing further pressure on the environment, also offers possibly the best combination of environmental, economic and social sustainability. It is up to those who propose very much larger and ongoing population increases beyond 2050 to demonstrate convincingly that the environmental problems of faster and larger growth could and would be addressed. Because of rising international competition for skilled migrants, running a significantly higher immigration program for a long period would also mean diluting selection criteria. That would mean more migrants who were less skilled, older and with fewer English skills; this would quickly undermine community confidence in the migration program and reduce the undoubted economic benefits that skilled migration delivers at present.

In contrast to those who lobby for a larger population, some people argue that we should substantially cut net overseas migration now and not worry about a declining fertility rate. This, they argue, would deliver us a smaller population more quickly, and a better environment. Unfortunately a shrinking population is also an ageing population. This is precisely the prospect facing Japan and many European countries who are experiencing very low fertility rates and rapidly ageing populations as a result. These countries are caught in a demographic trap.

As I have mentioned, there are no examples of a nation successfully raising its fertility rate once it has fallen to the levels we see today in Italy, Spain and Japan. Immigration is not part of the fabric of these nations and therefore it is very difficult for them to countenance a large scale influx of migrants. In both areas - fertility and migration - Australia is at an advantage. Our fertility rate has not yet sunk to Japanese levels and we have a history and tradition of migration that could help us towards a demographic soft landing.

However, there are some serious downside risks. The fertility rate has been falling steadily for three decades and there are some signs that it will continue to do so. If it does, we will face some very significant problems in relation to population decline and ageing. Also, there are some indications of long term downward influences on net overseas migration which, if sustained, could make it more difficult to reach a stable population of around 24 million by mid-century.

Despite a long period of sustained economic growth, net overseas migration has averaged only a little over 85,000 in recent years compared with levels over 150,000 at the peak of the previous cycle. This suggests that lower net overseas migration may be a structural rather than a cyclical phenomenon.

Our greater focus on skilled, educated, English speaking migrants within the permanent migration program has contributed to this structural shift. What is more, there is a finite supply of these skilled migrants and we are on the cusp of a major intensification of competition for them from overseas countries. This international demand for skilled migrants will be driven by profound and sustained demographic pressures that will cut into the labour forces of many developed nations and force them to seek out new recruits from overseas.

The same demographic pressures will also see increasing international competition for many of our long term temporary visitors, who currently make up half the net overseas migration total. Many of these temporary entrants are associated with high demand industries such as information technology and accountancy, either as business visitors or as students who represent an important feeder group into our permanent skilled migration stream. Add to this the increasing attraction of working offshore for young skilled Australians and the recent changes to access to social security by New Zealand citizens and it is not difficult to see the dangers to our longer term levels of net overseas migration.

Unless we manage our economy and our environment well, and we continue to attract our share of highly skilled migrants, we could well see our net overseas migration drop in the way that it has in other places such as New Zealand. One of the keys to ensuring that net overseas migration does not fall below what we need to reach stabilisation is to make sure that the public is aware of the benefits of our current focus on skilled migrants.

And these benefits are very tangible: while researchers in the early 1990s found immigration to have a neutral impact on the economy, today it is clearly having a strongly positive impact; the government's emphasis on skilled migration will deliver $5.3 billion in improved living standards for australians by 2007-08; and the 2000-01 migration program will contribute an average $270 million per year over the next five years to the commonwealth budget bottom line; New migrants are doing better now than in the mid 1990s - labour force participation is up and unemployment is down. This reflects the focus on skill under this government as well as the strength of the economy.

The main obstacles to Australia achieving a stable population of around 24 million by mid-century are, therefore, significant falls in the fertility rate and net overseas migration.

In addition we face problems if the labour force participation rate, especially in the older age groups continues to decline. It would be wise, therefore, for us to adopt a cautionary approach. We should: maintain our emphasis on skilled migrants, and adopt strategies for attracting them which keep us ahead of growing international competition; find out more about why the fertility rate is falling and, where possible, formulate policies which address this issue; encourage measures to increase labour force participation, especially of older workers who are now leaving the labour force in increasing numbers; and seek a better understanding of the links between population and the environment and how better to manage this relationship.

Now, if you accept that some further population increase to 2050 is both inevitable and desirable, particularly if it leads to a stable population, the next question is where the additional people should live. In looking at this issue, we should consider the relative economic, environmental and social impacts of alternative settlement patterns, as well as the tools we have to influence them.

Which brings me to the second part of my theme today - the prospect of a Sydney of 6 million people in 2050.

The first thing to note here may be bad news for some of you. According to the ABS projections, not only will Sydney have a slightly larger share of the national population in 2050, it will also still be growing quite strongly, even though nationally our population will have stabilised. This is due to an assumption by the ABS that Sydney will continue to attract the same proportion of migrants and long-term visitors as at present and that it continues to lose a smaller number of people through internal migration to other states.

To give you some of the bigger picture: the ABS also projects that the populations of Brisbane, Perth and Darwin will also continue to grow strongly beyond 2050, whereas Adelaide, Hobart and Canberra will decline in size. Melbourne's population, according to the projections, will level out; and the population of NSW excluding Sydney is projected to decline from 2.4 million to 2.2 million by 2050. Now I would like to emphasise strongly at this point that these are only projections, not predictions. A projection takes current trends, makes some reasonable assumptions about underlying factors, and then extrapolates them. Of course this a perfectly valid and useful thing to do. However, it is not at all certain that the future will be like the past.

So what could happen to change the ABS projections? One thing that could happen is that some of the migrants who now make Sydney their destination might be attracted to other states in the future. This could be because of lower house prices and less congestion in other cities. It could also be associated with the increasing efforts of states like South Australia and Tasmania as well as many regional centres, working with the commonwealth, to attract more migrants. Whereas the ABS projections have these states looking like depopulated backwaters, I do not believe that this will be the case, if their own efforts have anything to do with it.

These states are taking action now to attract more migrants, and the Commonwealth government is helping them. Together, we are encouraging a more balanced dispersal of Australia's migration intake by enhancing a range of state specific migration mechanisms. These mechanisms provide state and territory governments with greater influence over the level and composition of skilled and business migrants settling in their jurisdictions and to meet regional skill shortages. Although still small, the number of visas granted under these state specific mechanisms has tripled over the last four years. If these mechanisms continue to grow over the course of the next fifty years, they could take significant population pressure off Sydney - especially if they succeed in building a core of recently arrived skilled migrants in other states who establish businesses and attract similar migrants to follow them.

These efforts could well be assisted by more buoyant labour markets in other states, as populations begin to age and labour forces thin out at the same time as demand for a range of services increases. Within states, governments could take action to foster population growth outside the capital cities

Without wishing to speak for the NSW state government, I doubt that it is entirely happy with a projection that shows regional NSW shrinking considerably over the next fifty years; I also doubt that it has no plans or intentions to do something about this. Other influences towards de-centralisation could include communications, which have undergone such a revolution in recent years.

Improved transport could mean that more people could physically commute to the capitals, or work at a distance. When one considers that a lot of "back office" work these days does not even need to be conducted in the same country, the possibilities for decentralisation from the big cities to the regions begin to grow. Now, all these measures assume that a Sydney of 6 million people and still growing in 2050 is something to be avoided. But in terms of economic, social and environmental impact, some people see merit in the growth of global cities, including Sydney.

For example, Professor Kevin O'Connor of Monash University has said recently that, far from being weakened by new communications technologies, global cities will in fact grow and prosper in the new information economy. The reason, says Professor O'Connor, is that such cities provide a critical mass of services and skilled personnel, which in turn generates a culture of research and innovation. To quote professor O'Connor, "firms in these places shape much of what we watch, read, wear, eat and work within our daily life. Not coincidentally, these places also house the firms that finance and manage much of the activity that gets ideas from the minds of their creators to our table, wardrobe or office desk." He also makes the point that the rise of global cities is also stimulating innovative urban design and management. This raises the possibility that, if managed well, global cities could have a more benign environmental impact than more scattered patterns of settlement.

The challenge here would be to manage Sydney's inevitable growth to achieve economic, social and environmental goals. While there will be some continuing population pressures on Sydney, it is important to realise that good urban planning and infrastructure can help address such pressures. The way in which Sydney managed a greatly increased temporary population during the Olympics is testimony to its ability in this area.

I should also add that while it is often argued that increasing population levels in Sydney place greater pressure on infrastructure and air quality, population densities can also offer greater economies of scale for providing services such as public transport. On the other hand, while regional centres are generally subject to lower levels of environmental pressure than more dense urban areas, they also often have lower levels of environmental protection, such as tertiary treatment of sewerage.

These are issues that I understand other speakers today will be taking up, and I look forward to following the course of this important debate as it continues throughout Australia. Today is one step towards a better understanding of these issues and a good opportunity to hear the views of all three levels of government as well as those of some community groups. Like many aspects of the population debate, these matters are complex and inter-related. I have encouraged this debate and I look forward to the further development of our understanding of these important matters.

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Labor's population policy outline

Sustainable Development: An Integrated Approach to Population

Martin Ferguson AM MP, Shadow Minister for Regional Development, Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Services and Population.

My friends, I've chosen today to speak on the topic of sustainable development and an integrated approach to population.

In doing so, can I say that I think of forums such as these as important opportunities to discuss a range of issues that are critical to our future. I pay attention to that when I read the names of issues to be covered by the forum here today: from urban affairs and planning to the experience of urban consolidation to save our cities in the face of the information revolution and globalisation. It is clearly a comprehensive and a complex issue.In doing so, I think we need to say at the outset that Labor has argued for some time that we need a population policy and that we need an informed debate to frame that policy.

In this context it is important that we all appreciate that any future approach to population policy should be a broad one, and a flexible one. We need to do a better job than we have previously to understand the interdependence of various policy decisions, and what it all means for our population profile. A population policy for our future requires us to consider a variety of measures. We need to find the right combination of immigration and family friendlypolicies. And in doing so, we want to make sure that we make the right decisions. That's all about what it means for our population profile.

Therefore I suggest that what a population policy for our future requires us to consider a range of issues.

We have to deal with our aging population on a number of fronts: through our health and aged care system; policies that encourage the workforce participation of older Australians; and a sustainable retirement incomes policy.

We have to see where people live as a central part of the population debate. In saying this, I would argue that we need to include the way we develop our cities and our regions.

We have to care for out built and our natural environment. And the way that can contribute to our quality of life in a way that ensures that all development is sustainable development.

Finally, we have to recognise that the most fundamental force underpinning our economy, that is to invest in our people in our region.

My friends, I will come back to these themes.

But I would like to reiterate our integrated approach is necessary. And that is why Labor leader Kim Beazley has a vision for Australia as a 'Knowledge Nation'. That is, a nation that sees the skills, capacities and ideas of our people as the driver of our progress as a nation. It's also a vision that sees renewed emphasis in engaging the broad range of Australians. It gives all Australians a say in decisions that affect their lives.

What about the issue of population scale in the Asian profile? Kim and I have argued previously for a modest increase in our population, including for a higher immigration over the last couple of years. I might also acknowledge in passing, there has been largely an agreement between the Government and the Opposition in the changing nature of the immigration system in more recent times. This actually reflected a change in the labour force in Australia.

Based on the evidence that we have seen and the views of experts in the debate that it would be both environmentally sustainable and to our economic benefit. We have not fixed a figure on a population target, as that fails to appreciate the uncertainties involved. And it also distracts attention from the real challenges at hand to develop an integrated agenda for the sustainable development of our economy and our community. Having said that we do not specify a figure.

I have consistently opposed suggestions by some in the business community that Australia's population should be up near 50 million by the middle of the century. I don't believe anywhere near that number is sustainable. Then go to the issue of the population debate. The population debate has gained momentum over the past few years. And I'm pleased to say that Labor has consistently been leading that debate The issue of an aging population has come to the fore.

Some have noted that our aging population is not as acute as many other countries, and it should be therefore be given less importance. I reject it! I reject very strongly that view. The policies that address the aging of our population are good public policies in themselves. And they are priorities for this nation. They are policies that will ensure that we can pay our way in the world, and that the expenditure we choose to make for non-economic reasons can be afforded.

Policies that reward work, falicitate lifestyle choices of our people, and encourage an active and healthy society; they are policies that help address our aging population. They are policies that relate to retirement, such as superannuation (a requirement that we all make a contribution for our retirement), pensions and aged care. They are policies that help to sustain a decent and egalitarian society.

That in turn takes me to the complex issue of immigration. Our immigration policies are also relevant in this context, athough I would note that it is fertility, rather than immigration that has the greatest impact on our aging profile. Our immigration program must therefore balance competing objectives - if we only take the economic context, we should be favouring young, highly skilled migrants. But we must also fulfill our responsibility as a decent society, and that means recognising the family circumstances of people who choose to make Australia home - through family reunion. But in no way must we return to the previous leaning to an over-emphasis on family reunion sometimes, rather than an emphasis on the economic benefits of immigration.

It also means recognising our international responsibilities to our fellow human beings. Who are fleeing persecution or oppression or simply no longer have anywhere they can call home.

Then we go to the issue of regional development. To those who argue that we need a higher population, I would suggest that part of this approach must be to say: where? The answer is not easy. But if you believe in regional development - one of my responsibilities - then you have to prepare an option to attract and retain these people and keep the young people in our regions. I'm just not talking about people from overseas. I'm also talking about the young Australians of this day and age. The answer to that is about creating real opportunities for people in regional Australia. Real opportunities to work, to study, to access services or bring up families, and to participate in a variety of lifestyle related activities. That's why for example, Labor is looking at strengthening regional universities and TAFEs, and why we believe in more opportunities for regionally based industries.

The real story for Australia, as for our cities, is a mixed one. Some regions and some communities are charging ahead - Sydney's CBD is an example of that. Many are not - White Bay is an example of that. Labor's approach to regional development is one that promotes both excellence and equity. All cities and regions need to improve the way we meet the challenges. Some areas, both in regional Australia, and our cities - and I remind you that while Sydney is surging ahead, some suburbs, such as the suburb I grew up in western Sydney - are falling further and further behind. That is why in those suburbs we need to give them additional support in that process of change

In the context of immigration we have already stated that we will be promoting migration to our regions partly in recognition of the environmental challenges facing our cities, and partly because we believe in regional development. Labor has a strong history in the area of regional development, dating back to the decentralisation era in the nineteen forties, Whitlam's regional centres growth strategy, and more recently "Working Nation" centres development programs. However, it's fair to say that the history of regional development is one of mixed success.

When the Howard government came to office one of its first acts was to declare that there was no role for our national government in regional development. They proceeded to demolish the Office of Regional Development, abandon all of Labor's programs supporting regional infrastructure, delivering regional services, and fostering regional leadership. When people write about Australian history in the late Twentieth Century, I believe that the Prime Minister's decision to abandon regional development will be seen as one example of a great error of judgment. Maybe he'll do a backflip on that in another six months... Who would know?

My friends, I go to the issue of sustainable development. One of my priorities in the context of my portfolios - regional development, regional services, transport, infrastructure and population - will be to work to ensure that any development that we have will be sustainable. Sustainability needs to be at the heart of our regional agenda. In that context we have to move forward on hard issues about resource management, and the environmental performance of our industry. That will require change in the way our landholders and businesses do things, and we all know that that is not easy. But, just as with debates about globalisation and trade, change is something that we cannot choose to reject.

Perhaps the most important role of government today is to manage change, include people in the process of change, and to ensure that the costs and benefits of change are shared equitably. I would urge people to look at Labor's population policy in this context - of sustainable development that aims to enhance the quality of life of the people across the whole of the nation. Not some sections - not some suburbs, not some cities, and not some regions - but all of Australia.

Then go to the question of a lower population. Those who argue for a lower population, I suggest that you examine that approach in the context of a few global realities. First the size of our population does affect our economic opportunities in the global economy, hence the interest of the business community in arguing for a higher population. The challenge, I suggest, is not to reject development, but to ensure that it is sustainable. Secondly, we face the possibility in coming decades of a global refugee problem that could present us with some tough challenges. And for that reason I also note in passing, the agreement on both sides of the parliament to maintain the integrity of immigration into Australia including support for detention centres.The debate is not about whether those detention centres should exist, it is a debate about how you manage those centres.

Ladies and gentlemen, we also face challenges in relation to the dislocation that results from conflicts that take place that leave people without a safe homeland - and we have seen that in both Kosovo and, closer to our shores in recent time, in East Timor. In these cases we cannot simply ignore our international responsibilities. I raise the issues today to highlight the uncertainties that confront all of us in the next decade. This uncertainty is one reason I hesitate to place to much emphasis on a figure.

To argue for a higher Australian population is not to deny the global population pressure we are facing. There are some in this debate who look at the global population crisis and argue that because we have a devastating impact on our global environment that we should aim to stem world population growth. I agree with that. But it does not then follow that every nation should be looking at a lower population. That is not a logical extension of the global argument.

This all leads me to regional diversity. Consider the parallel argument within Australia. Different states, different regions and different communities have different views on development. I'll give you one example that I've encountered in the last fortnight. I've been having a discussion with Melbourne's interface councils discussing the recent allocations to them under the Howard Government's Roads to Recovery package. Unlike most local councils there was one Council that had a different approach to development. They wanted to retain lifestyle advantages and wanted to change the criteria to better reflect the local preference for public and community transport over road works. As a result of that, they argued to me, that within the criteria of councils to spend a proportion of their local roads allocation, that it should be permissible to spend it on sustainable transport options, suited to their local lifestyle preference.

I raise this example to point out that not all communities have the same view. Having travelled up and down this country, especially in the last eighteen months, working on my regional responsibilities, I can assure you that the call for policy makers to listen to regional differences is very, very strong.

Here in Sydney, many people feel that local development pressures are placing too much pressure on infrastructure, lifestyles and environment. But there are other areas - and you have only to talk to the people in Tasmania, for example - who want a larger population. My point is simple: we have to develop more flexible means by which we accommodate a range of views - at a State, regional and a local level. At the Commonwealth level, our responsibility is to ensure that the overall picture meets our national aim of sustainable development, in the context of changing global reality. I'm not pretending that it's easy, because it clearly is not. Today's forum is an example of the complexities of that debate.

That takes me to the issue of the Office of Population. Labor will establish, as a matter of priority, a new Office of Population to research and advise on a range of population options and ways of getting there. I also acknowledge that the Government has now actively moved to participate in that debate. The first step will be to undertake a wide-ranging inquiry to ascertain the levels of population that can be sustained in the long term in order to pursue more favourable economic, social and environmental outcomes. The Office will play a leadership role in encouraging a wider public understanding of population issues in an open and honest debate.

We need an open debate, underpinned by strong leadership, to maintain public confidence on immigration, which I believe is exceptionally important, and population issues. Labor - I clearly also say - does not pretend to know what the future holds, but we refuse to face that future blindly. We need to look ahead as a nation. In the context of planning for our future population challenges, we also accept that the course of events will challenge even our best-laid plans. We have to embed in our long-term planning the flexibility to be able to respond to the changing reality. Planning is therefore exceptionally important, and there are clearly divergent views in this debate.

Labor's commitment - I simply say in conclusion - is to be honest about our own views and recognise that none of us know all of the answers. We expect others to do the same. Various players in this debate agree on one thing: that is the sense that we are not planning what lies ahead of us as a nation. Maybe I am exposed to that even more than most - through my portfolio work in areas such as infrastructure, regional development and population. I must say in infrastructure, the lack of a transport plan for Sydney is a fine example of that.

My friends in conclusion I'd say that the feeling in the community that we are not planning for our future is very widespread. And when you look at the mechanisms that we have in place for planning, you just can't be satisfied. The sustainable development of our economies and communities, right across Australia, demands that we progress the population debate in a sensible way. That, I suggest, is what Labor's Office of population will seek to do. Thank you for the opportunity to address you today.

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Sustainable Community Development

Michael Richardson MP, State Member for the Hills

Ladies and gentlemen it is a pleasure to come down here apparently representing DUAP. I must say that my paper will be slightly different from "Community participation inplanning metropolitan growth". But I do think that one of the great failures, quite honestly, of DUAP in the past has been its failure to undertake appropriate community consultation in the decisions that it has taken that have affected all of us.

It is also a great pleasure to be in Sutherland Shire, because I think that Sutherland Shire and my own electorate of the Hills share many values in common. In fact, we tend to call Sutherland Shire 'The Hills sur mer'. But there is also, I think, similar anger, here in Sutherland, and in The Hills, and in fact right across Sydney, as to what people see as the destruction of their way of life.

I conducted a survey of my constituents at the beginning of last year. I got more than one thousand responses, so it was statistically significant, valid and reliable. And 96 per cent of the respondents were opposed to high rise in Castle Hill. There is a proposal to build 14-storey blocks of flats on Council owned land in Castle Hill. Now, I know that down here in Sutherland, you have lots of blocks of flats - and that's a contentious issue - although perhaps the fact that you have a railway line may well make that decision a little bit more understandable. We don't have any dedicated public transport links in the Hills, and quite frankly having imposed on us 14-storey blocks of flats and the same sort of density targets and requirements as the rest of Sydney seems to me to be downright bloody stupid.

I launched my new website last week, and we have a survey on that website, and in the survey we are asking people to list their four top local issues. The first response we got back - I'm delighted to say, within 48 hours of the launch of the website - was from a gentleman living in Castle Hill who listed issue number four as: "Higher density, we will be moving out".

That is the central tenet of the paper I have written, Community Ties. That, in fact, the planning policies that governments adopt can contribute to a breakdown of community. I know that all sides of politics across the world are committed to the idea of fostering community, because they see that it generates better health outcomes, better outcomes in terms of law and order, better environmental outcomes - people look after one another; they look after their local community; they look after their local area.

But, of course, if you have an area that is - and has been since it was first settled - detached houses on reasonable sized lots of land, and you suddenly knock all of those houses down and replace them with townhouses or blocks of flats, the people who move into that area will not share the same values as those who went there originally. People come to live in my electorate, or in Menai, or on the Northern Beaches because there is a certain quality of life, there is a certain amenity, that they wish to enjoy. And when that amenity is destroyed through the imposition of unwanted urban consolidation, many of them take the same sort of approach as my constituents from Castle Hill intend to do, and move out.

It was interesting to note that in a survey of 18 suburbs conducted by Homel and Burns a few years ago the area that nine to eleven year olds most wanted to live in was the north-western suburbs. There's no prize for guessing what that area is; it's called the Hills. But the point is that the Hills has always been known for its detached houses on large blocks of land and leafy green streets. It's a good place to grow up; it's a good place to bring up children.

Mr Ruddock spoke earlier on about the possibility of there being two million extra people in Sydney by 2050. He also acknowledged that these were ABS projections and that they were only projections. In fact it's very hard to come up with an accurate figure for where Sydney's population is going to be in 20 years' time, let alone 50. For example, in 1968, the Sydney Region Outline Plan predicted there would be five million people in Greater Sydney - that included Gosford and Wyong, but excluded Newcastle and Wollongong - by last year, the year 2000, with 500,000 other people living in new centres outside the Sydney Basin. In 1995, Cities for the 21st Century predicted that the population of Greater Sydney would reach only 4.48 million by 2021. That's 20 years on and perhaps a million fewer people.

About the only prediction we can make with really any certainty, is that Australia's population will keep growing for the forseeable future. And much of that growth - like it or not - will occur in Sydney. Because Sydney has a number of attributes that attract people here. You're not going to stop the economic growth of Australia and there will continue to be population growth. If we don't have an immigration policy, I suggest, that the world is virtually going to force it upon us. As Philip Ruddock has identified, we would have a major problem with the demographics of our population because there would be so many people over the age of 65.

The question really becomes: "Where are these people going to live"? Now, if you continue down the path the current government is going down - where all local government areas are required to come up with housing density targets, which include a target of something like 60 per cent of all dwellings being multi-unit within ten years - I think that ultimately, within 50 years, you will end up with a brick and mortar jungle extending from the sea to the mountains. And every suburb is going to look like every other suburb.

So the freedom of choice (and that's the mantra of urban consolidation), the freedom of choice that the urban consolidationists talk about, will be lost forever. Because, you won't be able to go and buy that detached house on a 700 square metre block, and a good environment to bring up your kids. Every suburb is going to look like every other suburb. I'm not sure that's the sort of Sydney I want to continue to live in. And I know that, based on comments that have been made to me, it's the sort of city a lot of other people don't want to live in also.

The Government has talked about vibrant, dense communities, as though density is a good in its own right. And yet if you go back to the end of the 19th Century, there was an exodus from the centre of Sydney towards the outer suburbs. Do you know why? It was for health reasons. It was actually considered to be healthier for the population - there had been an outbreak of bubonic plague in The Rocks, there had been a cholera scare, and it took until after World War Two for there to be any sustained movement back towards the inner city.

They drew pretty heavily on Ebenezer Howard and his Garden City movement in developing Sydney over that time. Of course the expansion was along railway lines. We didn't have the widespread use of motor cars at that time and it was only after the war, when Holden (I guess, more than anybody else) popularised the motor car, and affluence meant that people could afford cars, that the spaces in between the railway lines were filled in. Now unfortunately we didn't do a particularly good job of filling in those spaces. Our understanding of planning issues (and these evolve all the time, as in every discipline) was not as good as it might have been. So we created suburbs that were very car dependent, suburbs that were very hard to service by public transport, suburbs - particularly after the seventies - that had curvilinear streets and culs-de-sac based on the model of an 1850s American cemetery. I hope that isn't a metaphor for what is going to happen to those suburbs in the future!

We go through periodic spasms of guilt about the way Sydney has grown. So back in the sixties, you had an explosion of six-pack blocks of flats being built right across Sydney. Most of them were pretty ugly, I must say - they didn't really add much to the architectural beauty of Sydney. And then we went away from that again, we went back to the idea of detached houses and the result is much as you see it today.

But the excuse today given for urban consolidation, is sustainability. And, of course, I think that is to an extent a myth. It is quite impossible to locate four to six million people in the Sydney Basin and to have no impact on the environment. Take, for example, rainfall. In the built environment 80 per cent of the rain falling on the built environment runs off, so you get localised flooding. And more major flooding down in the Hawkesbury River. But in the natural environment, 80 per cent of the rain that falls on the land is absorbed by the ground. And that's an example of the kind of problems that you get through growth and through population pressure.

The real reason for urban consolidation is not a desire to contain urban sprawl, that is just the excuse that's used. It's really economic; it's public transport. Our two previous speakers have spoken about that. It's the sheer economics of attempting to service that number of people, to provide infrastructure for that number of people and to get them around, with a limited public purse. Because there's no evidence - despite this mantra about vibrant dense communities - that denser communities are better communities. You could go out to Kenthurst, for example (it used to be in my electorate, but not since the last redistribution), and you'll find that there is more community spirit there - because of the shared values that those people have on their five acre blocks - than in many much more densely settled suburbs.

Of course it is also true that Australians are living longer, marrying later and having fewer children. The average size of households has fallen from 3.8 persons in 1947 to 2.6 in 1996. Now that's a phenomenon around the developed world. Like us, Britain has acknowledged this, and they put out a major report - the Rogers Report - stating that they are going to need more households in the future. But this is not a continuing trend. The major falls in household size in Australia occurred before 1980. In fact the average household size has fallen by only 0.2 persons since 1988. One of the reasons for this is that human beings do not always fit into bureaucrats' nice pigeon-holes.

The Department of Urban Affairs and Planning would hold that an elderly lady who is living alone in her three- or four-bedroom house, on her seven hundred square metre or quarter acre block of land, is using up resources that she's not entitled to. But there are many elderly people who don't agree with that. There are many elderly people who have better health outcomes, for example, and are a lesser burden on the State because they are able to get around in their gardens and remain active. And there are many elderly people who would just pine away, I suspect, in a block of flats. One size does certainly not fit all.

We've also enjoyed increasing affluence over the last 15 years. There has been a significant increase in the size of new homes - 163 square metres to 248 square metres. And with that has gone, of course, increasing use of motor vehicles. Now a lot of people (and a lot of people in this room I suspect) would be saying that that is wrong, but the Rogers Report recognised that unless public transport changed out of all recognition, you were not going to have a quantum leap in the number of people who were going to use public transport.

And there are all sorts of reasons for this. Martin Ferguson was talking about working women; most working women find it almost impossible to juggle their home and their jobs, take their children to school, drop them off at school, drop them off at childcare, and do that by public transport. The only way they can juggle all of those responsibilities is by way of the car. And many people, regretfully, do not feel safe on public transport. And that has been a major issue. The number of kids walking to school, right around the world, has more than halved, in the last ten years. Because parents do not feel safe, secure, letting their kids walk to school. And of course that's created enormous traffic problems around schools. Something like 20 per cent of the cars on the road at ten to nine in the morning are associated with the schools: that is, teachers and parents dropping their kids off.

I just want to talk briefly about some solutions. I am extremely concerned about SEPP 53, which foists increased densities in all areas regardless of infrastructure or major employment opportunities. I think that SEPP 53 ought to go. And we really need to do what Sue Holliday was going to talk to you about today: consult more widely with people and with councils about development issues.

But, as I have said previously, the one thing you can be sure of is that Sydney is going to continue to grow. We are going to have more people moving into Sydney over the next 50 years and they are going to have to be housed somewhere. Now, I've travelled around the world and spoken to a lot of people about this, and I've seized on a model from another city that I believe could be adopted, with profit, here in Sydney.

Let me ask you this: "What city lies in the Pacific Ocean; had its location discovered by Captain Cook; was settled by the British; has a spectacularly beautiful natural setting; is surrounded by mountains, rivers and the sea; and has doubled in size in the last thirty years, largely due to a significant influx of Asian immigrants?" Anyone …? Someone's been reading my paper. You said Vancouver … and you're right.

In many respects, Vancouver mirrors what has happened to Sydney, although its population is only two million, so it's half the size of Sydney. They have set aside a green zone comprising agricultural land reserves, plus environmentally sensitive areas, particularly wetlands around the Fraser River Delta (the world's best salmon stream I'm told). Seventy-two per cent of the land area of the Fraser River Delta is now reserved in that green zone and has been since the early 1970s - 54,000 hectares. And they said: "If we are going to accommodate continuing growth, how are we going to do that?".

First, they designated a growth concentration area. Seventy per cent of the population is supposed to be going into that area by 2021. They identified eight regional town centres, around public transport nodes. They have a Skytrain and they have a commuter rail system. And that is where the blocks of flats are going right now. The metro core, which currently has a population of 20 000, is to double by the year 2021. And they are also increasing population around 13 municipal town centres. Forty three per cent of the population of Vancouver now lives in multi-unit housing, up from 28 per cent in 1966. And that compares with 35 per cent in Sydney. The figure for Melbourne is 23 per cent and it has recently been voted the world's most livable city.

How do I believe Sydney should be planned in the future? First, I think we should set the limits to growth. We should establish some sort of a green zone and councils, residents and government agencies should be consulted on where that green zone should go. We should be designating areas for growth. That is going to have to happen because we are going to have this continuing influx of people. We should be basing our density targets on the distance from the Central Business District, or major employment centres, access to public transport and neighbourhood character. And I think that is very important.

We should seriously be looking at developing new transport modes. I'm not convinced that Sydney's existing heavy rail system with its half-hour headways out of peak hour and, quarter-hour headways during peak hour is actually the right sort of system for the 21st Century.

We can decentralise, I believe, by building fast trains - this would put Goulburn within an hour to an hour and a quarter's commuting distance of the Sydney CBD. It's certainly the experience overseas that this can be done: it's the experience in New York; it's the experience in Paris; it's the experience with London - it could also be done here.

There should be a two-way housing mix. If we have to provide for singles and empty nesters in the outer suburbs, then in the inner city, in places like Pyrmont and Green Square, we should be providing accommodation suitable for families. Because that's the only way we can build communities.

And we should protect and improve the amenity of the area. We should put in facilities when they are needed.

We should make restrictive covenants effective at law as the Victorian Government has done - currently any planning instrument can overide restrictive covenants. We should give neighbourhood character equal priority with urban consolidation in new housing estates, with architecture sympathetic to the surrounding fabric of buildings and local tradition.

One way we can improve the quality of urban design is to establish urban design centres with university, local government and private sector support, to encourage debate on urban design issues and to raise urban design standards. I also think that we should make Development Control Plans more prescriptive. The trade-off for developers would be that there would be fewer objections to complying developments.

So, those are a few of the ways that I think that we could actually significantly improve Sydney over the next 50 years and it make a more vibrant and happier place to live - if not denser.

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Urban Consolidation - Local Government Experience ?

Clr Genia McCaffery, Mayor of North Sydney Council.

The Policy of Urban consolidation underpins much of the State's Planning Policies. It's a principle that has been seen - not just by the current Labor Government - but by successive State governments, both Coalition and Labor (and it's been running now for the past fifteen years), as the only way they can curb Sydney's urban sprawl, by using less land for more housing. The solution they've seen has been to force local government through State imposed planning policies, to implement development controls which pursue urban consolidation - or what's often talked about as the development of the compact city.

Planners argue that the traditional Australian urban form of single houses on separate allotments (the house that I'm quite devoted to, with a backyard, real grass and trees) does not deal with the changes in household size and the aging population - that is, the needs of smaller households of the 21st century. The major problem I have with this policy is that it's been imposed from above, with absolutely no dialogue with the communities - with us - who are most affected by these policies. I think we need a transparent process, which reviews, criticises and then, through that process, we can together as a community, improve our strategies for urban development. But we need to have that debate!

There is a wonderful book by Patrick Troy, called The Perils of Urban Consolidation. Patrick argues very forcibly, that as more people live in high density housing they need more public open space, and that increased density requires more urban land for purposes other housing such as roads and supporting infrastructure. There is actually little net gain in residential population by pursuing the policy of urban consolidation.

Another myth is that our forefathers somehow built our cities with vast infrastructure and enormous capacity that was never used, yet there is simply no evidence to support this. In fact many inner city areas like my own (North Sydney) are facing looming crisis in their infrastructure. The developers do their development and move away, and it will be our community that will be paying the price in the decades to come to renew this infrastructure. Most of the infrastructure in places like North Sydney was built over 100 years ago and yet it's now required to service not only larger population but it's a population that requires much more, much greater demands on that infrastructure, per person.

Now I know that many people here would agree with what I'm saying, but there's probably many other people who would disagree. But I guess that's really the point. Without the debate, local communities - and it is the local communities who bear the brunt of the consequences of urban consolidation policies - will remain unconvinced that they are actually necessary.

Furthermore, if the State Government is not required to justify and then regularly reassess such a fundamental policy that underpins all of the planning controls, then the failures of State policies (like dual occupancy - and we all live with the consequences of that disastrous policy - and SEPP 5, another disastrous policy) will continue. Such a public debate would result in a clear assessment of how much growth Sydney can or should actually handle.

There are many questions about the current level of development in Sydney that we need to discuss. And I'll throw in some for starters -

One of the key problems for local government is that the State government has not even set a specific dwelling yield for any local government area. Tony Recsei and I were involved in a panel debate on radio 2BL the other day with the Director General of DUAP, Sue Holliday, and she actually said that the Department does not set targets for local government. And I think that's the problem - because targets would give us a chance to actually argue about whether our individual areas and our infrastructure would cope; whether we are able to fill the targets. Instead, most of us are working to some sort of unspecified level of development - we just know that it has to be more. And the giving of the actual yield that we'd have to provide in each local government area would give us a chance to look at whether we are really be able to provide a range of housing choices. DUAP talks all the time about providing a range of housing choice.

But what has happened under urban consolidation policies in places like North Sydney, is that the single house has become an endangered species. We are not providing for family anymore. All we are offering is medium to high-density dwellings. And I think there continues to be this false idea that the best cities are some kind of random accident and that planning should be resisted because it produces sterile environments. I think that the opposite is true: that the best cities are the ones that are carefully controlled and planned, so that the form and character reflects our culture, and the aspirations of our community.

It's the responsibility of all of us involved in city planning to decide what we really want to happen. And then can go from that vision to establishing planning mechanisms that assure that vision is achieved. Whether it is at the local level or at the State level, this process needs to be inclusive, involving the community in the plan making process that will shape the environment they live in.

And I think that it is particularly disappointing that DUAP are not speaking today. Because if DUAP thinks that their urban consdolidation policy is good, then they should come and justify to you - the community who live with the consequences of those policies. They should be able to justify it.

And rather than just involved in a DUAP bashing exercise, I think the current Director-General of DUAP is very good. I think she is attempting to engage with the communities. And I think that the current Residential Strategies policy is a much better policy than dual occupancy, which produced the most gross development in my own area, and I'm sure in many of your areas. At least with the Residential Strategy policy we are able to develop a policy that responds to our own community.

The problem is that at the top of that Residential Strategy, is the urban consolidation policy. And DUAP has to be prepared to engage with the community about whether that overriding policy of urban consolidation is working. And if they believe it's working, they shouldn't be afraid of engaging in the discussion. Public confidence in the planning process is vital and the responsibility for that confidence lies with government; it cannot successfully pursue urban policies, which do not have public support. Both levels of government involved in the planning process need to respect each other and their roles in that process. Both levels of government need transparent processes to ensure we review, criticise and improve our strategies for urban planning.

The Olympics have shown what extraordinary things we can achieve if all levels of government are committed to work together to achieve a common goal. And I'd like to send a message to DUAP out there: please let's not go through the dual occupancies again, come and be involved and start a real discussion about urban consolidation. Let's just do it!

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Shifting the Focus to Whole of State Development

Clr Peter Woods OAM, President Local Government Association of NSW

I want to look at shifting the focus to the whole of state development, because, you see, that's a concept that has never really been seriously entertained by the politicians or those involved in the planning process. It has always been Sydney out. It has never been looking at the whole of the State in terms of the State's development.

The current development path of NSW is certainly not sustainable from an economic, social and environmental perspective. This path creates polarisation and fragmentation. Over the past 20 years, we have witnessed growing disparities in employment, wealth, income and educational opportunities between regions and within regions in the state. Not just a growing divide between Sydney and the bush, but a growing divide between regions within the greater metropolitan area.

Sydney and the Greater Metropolitan area as a whole, are straining under population growth pressures. Our transport infrastructure is overloaded, traffic gridlock is an everyday occurrence, the existing rail system is near capacity and some experts predict that it will not have the capacity for any additional rolling stock after 2006, air quality has deteriorated to a point where proposed major developments have had to be aborted, residential and industrial land supplies are under pressure - the list goes on.

To a large extent, Sydney is choking on its own success. Sydney has been booming and it's prolonged economic growth and resultant opportunities are a powerful population magnet. While a burgeoning Sydney is bursting at the seams, many regions of NSW are crying out for new and further development. Many parts of regional Australia have suffered major downturns as the result of the combined effects of economic rationalism, structural change, technological change and demographic shifts. These have had major impacts over a relatively short period of time.

These regions are struggling to adjust, to encourage the growth of new industries, to replace old jobs with new and to put new foundations under their communities. Many are succeeding despite the past neglect of governments and government agencies, however, these efforts would gain momentum if they were reinforced by a coherent strategy for the development of the whole state, at they same time greater growth in the regions could help relieve pressure on Sydney.

One reason for this outcome is that State Government agencies have been unduly focussed on the development of Sydney and have neglected the rest of the state. Another reason is the forces that shape the modern economy. Without intervention, the forces of globalisation and the knowledge economy will continue to concentrate the benefits of economic growth in globally oriented capital cities, or more specifically, the globally oriented sectors of those cities.

Australia has perhaps three such cities - Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, of which Sydney is obviously pre-eminent. Contrary to popular belief, the IT economy concentrates rather than decentralises activity if left to its own devices. Let me make it clear, I am not advocating strangulation of economic growth in Sydney. I recognise that Sydney is the economic growth engine of the NSW economy if not the Australian economy. However, there is a growing cost to this growth and given the constraints referred to, the current pattern of growth is not sustainable.

The dilemma is: how to maintain the impetus of Sydney while at the same time relieving the growth pressures and sharing the benefits of growth more equitably across the state?

In recognition of this dilemma the Local Government and Shires Associations established a Whole of State Development Task Force to consider future development strategies for NSW, with particular emphasis on the role of Local Government. The Task Force was assisted by National Economics (NIEIR) in producing the publication A Framework for Whole of State Development. The framework addresses the challenges confronting NSW. We argue that a new vision is required by all spheres of government, business and community to guide the development of NSW over the next 20 years. From a Local Government perspective, the case is put for the adoption a "Whole of State Development" approach, where the local and regional dimension to state economic development is recognised and emphasised in new policy directions.

The "Whole of State Development" approach aims to ensure that all NSW regions share in the benefits of globalisation and the digital revolution. Measures are required to build the knowledge base, infrastructure and innovative capacity of all regions. The new approach requires a major resource commitment and strategic coordination from all spheres of government. Local Government seeks to be a pro-active partner in this process. Whole of State Development involves devolution of responsibilities and resources to regions, but it doesn't involve a reduction of the role of government. In fact, quite the opposite, a Whole of State Development approach involves intervention, public investment and planning - terms, of course, guaranteed to send a shiver down the spines of the economic rationalists (in both Macquarie Street and Treasury).

The Local Government and Shires Associations of NSW put forward the following vision to guide Whole of State Development:

"NSW will be one of the most confident, well-managed, dynamic, competitive and open economies of the Asia-Pacific region. The state will be fully integrated into the global economy - a multi-cultural society that encourages continuous flows of investment, people and knowledge flows and ideas. The basis of its wealth and well being will be innovation, social cohesion, good governance and ecological sustainability. It will be a creative, adaptable, high skilled and knowledge-based economy where firms, organisations and citizens of all ages are engaged in continuous learning and innovation. It distinguishes itself by an all-embracing commitment to reconciliation between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians.

"All regions share in the benefits of the new economy. Regions have access to world class transport, financial and technological infrastructure and services. This includes advanced information communications technologies, which are used by local business networks and community organisations to enhance global links, knowledge flows and local learning. Resources and responsibilities are devolved to local government and regions to enable them to implement strategies to attain their economic and social potential. Its cities and regions are socially enriching and safe places to live offering good opportunities for jobs, investment, and learning, with outstanding infrastructure and amenities. It values and conserves its environmental and cultural assets".

Whilst recognising common challenges facing all metropolitan and non-metropolitan regions of the state, we also recognised the distinctive challenges facing different types of regions and identified five types of regions in NSW for analytical purposes:

The challenges include increasing congestion and other environmental problems associated with the growth of Sydney, population decline in rural areas west of the Great Dividing Range, rapid population growth in lifestyle regions (North Coast/South Coast) and Developing Sydney, and ongoing structural change in industrial regions. The Whole of State development approach is built around principles of sustainable development. This involves a comprehensive approach to developing all of the State's regions encompassing economic development, social well being and ecological health. The principles are:

To attain the Whole of State Development vision, the state needs to build on its strong and diverse economy with value added industries in mining, agriculture, manufacturing, information, advanced services and high technology industries. People at all levels of society and workers need to be involved in continuous learning, acquiring new skills and competencies. The Whole of State Development approach proposes to:

In developing the Whole of State Development framework we considered three scenarios for the development of NSW over the next 20 years.

The head in the sand scenario which persists with the current path and results in a state population of 7,428,000 by 2021. It results in poorer economic performance, slower growth of non-metropolitan regions and population decline in rural NSW.

The Laissez faire scenario where the market is given a free hand and results in a NSW population of 7,607,000 by 2021. It results in higher rates of economic growth associated with growing inequality and environmental damage, particularly in Sydney. Infrastructure is inadequate to meet the challenges of regional development, because public investment in infrastructure is severely constrained.

The Sustainable development scenario results in a population of 7 473 100 by 2021. It results in population and economic growth in all areas. It includes positive measures to target an increase in population of rural regions by 75,000 people, stimulate revitalisation of the industrial regions, constrain over-development of Sydney, and infrastructure investment and careful environmental management of lifestyle regions.

Clearly only the latter is acceptable. This will only be achieved through a fundamental shift in development policies and a strong partnership between all spheres of government based on a shared vision of growth that embraces all regions of the state and indeed, Australia.

The Whole of State Development framework puts forward a number of recommendations designed to help achieve the sustainable development scenario and enable all NSW regions, and the people, to share in the benefits of economic development, whilst maintaining environmental quality and social cohesion. The Associations are currently pursuing these recommendations with the state and federal governments.

This came about as a result of an awareness by local government representatives from metropolitan councils that the present course of action is not sustainable. That Sydney will choke on its own pollution. At the same time we had local government representatives from their communities in non-metropolitan areas saying that the bush was closing and that there was a drive of people to the metropolitan area.

It was only by bringing the two parties together, to recognise the problems on a statewide basis, that we got something that would never have been achieved ten years ago. And that was a unity of purpose based on problems. The problems of the city can be the solutions for the bush; the problems within Sydney can be resolved by a far more strategic and equitable approach to the planning imperatives.

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Dictatorship of the high density bullies

Dr Tony Recsei, President of Save Our Sydney Suburbs

Some two years ago I became increasingly aware of the State Government's urban consolidation policy. I had a gut feel that a policy of cramming people closer togetherwould be detrimental and I wrote to the Department of Urban Affairs and Planning requesting the reasons for their approach.

My letters were rarely answered and it gradually dawned on me that maybe they could not justify their actions. I did some research on my own and wrote an article for the SMH entitled Dictatorship of the High Density Bullies - the reasons for this title will become apparent.

Today I wish to tell you what I discovered. With an increasing population the authorities have only two options - cram people closer together or establish new growth areas. The State Government has chosen to crowd people closer together. To describe the process they have used various euphemisms over time: "Urban Consolidation"; "Compact City"; and "Sustainable City". But they all means the same thing.

DUAP has promulgated several planning policies to force higher densities upon residents:

Paris before infill. This slide [below] is a depiction of housing in Paris before infill occurred. You'll note that the houses look out on the street. Behind them are gardens, there are trees, shubbery, vegetables, grass . . .

Paris half infilled. Then this [below] is what the same area looked like half-infilled. We now see a lonely tree.

Paris as it is now. [below] This is what it looks like now - and this is the process we are told we must aspire to.

When Sydney visitors return from overseas, they are generally thankful to be in a less congested environment; to get away from the traffic and the crowds.

Barcelona has high density living. The rich have places in the country to get away from the congestion; the poor are stuck where they are in their cramped conditions. Sydney suburbs by contrast typically have many trees.

Compare Lucca (in Italy), Narrabeen (Sydney), and Shustar in Iran …

This is Toronto. At DUAP's sustainability conference in November last year, this is the type of living the keynote speakers held up as a model.

Scarpnack in Sweden is another model that they gave … It makes sense for people who live in climates with long harsh winters and short summers not to have a garden. It is noteworthy that many of these folk own summer retreats in the countryside. This enables them to get away from congested living.

One sees a similar pattern with people who own expensive apartments in inner Sydney. Many possess seaside cottages to which they periodically travel to escape the crowds.

In the19th Century, the huge increases in population density caused many problems. The early 20th Century solution was to provide and value open space. However we are now doing a 'U-turn', and being forced to accept higher densities.

What are the justifications given by DUAP for higher densities? In summary, these justifications - better labeled myths - are:

And, yes, it's all there, just look at their publication called Shaping Our Cities.

SAVING BUSHLAND Let us look at the facts of the allegation of saving farmland and bushland.

This [slide below shows] remnant bushland within Sydney.

It was attractive to residents and visitors, it was a source of recreation, it counteracted pollution, mitigated run-off, cooled the city and it provided a sanctuary for wildlife This is what the area looks like now…

This is what the units look onto; they look onto the amenity of the gardens on the other side of the street. As a result the units command premium prices, because they have a pleasant outlook.

The houses now look onto [the units] instead of the previous bushland. They have lost value, a process we call theft of amenity.

DUAP tells us that over the past 10 years high density has saved 8,500 hectares of bushland and farmland. Now if you do the calculation, and take into account such factors as the residential area of Sydney only takes up forty per cent of the total area you'll see that it amounts to a mere 700 metres on Sydney's 40 km diameter so far. So ten years of urban consolidation has saved 700 metres. Compare this figure to the area of one and a half million hectares of bush cleared in NSW in the same period, you'll realise where the real problem lies. This 8,500 hectares is just 0.005%, of the bushland that's been cleared in other areas. If you put six million people into Sydney, all you'd save is 2.4 kilometres off the boundary. Admittedly it will be an irregular saving, because some areas will stick out more than others.

But, one's got to put it in perspective. Of all [the enormous amount of Australian bush and farmland] we are saving 700 metres on the fringe of Sydney.

What is better - gardens and pockets of bushland within the city or 700 metres on the fringe which few of us ever experience?

The next myth to consider is cost. We are told that the government will save money by the more efficient use of infrastructure if they push more people into existing suburbs. I've asked DUAP: Where are the studies to prove this? And I got no answer. As Genia McCaffery has said, the existing infrastructure was laid 100 plus years ago. It was designed for the population density of the time. There would not have been surplus funds to build in huge over-capacities that we can now use. All that is being achieved is the overloading of existing infrastructure. Sewers are overflowing into creeks, as is the case in Willoughby, because of the huge amount of development that has occurred around Chatswood. Tens of millions of dollars will have to be spent there now to rectify this problem caused by high density. Existing infrastructure will have to be upgraded, with all the expensive problems associated with digging up streets and integrating with outdated technology. The end result is a huge increase in cost, which we as consumers will have to bear in the form of higher charges. The mass installation of greenfield infrastructure must be much cheaper in the long run.

There is another side to cost - the cost of new units being built. Many of us are aware of the price being asked for the new units, in the range of $300,000 to $1,000,000 each. And the developers destroy sound family homes to replace them with these units. The building cost of villa housing is 150% of detached housing; that of town houses is 200% of detached housing.

Traffic DUAP maintains that traffic problems and therefore atmospheric pollution will improve with higher densities. Where are the studies to prove that this will result in the Sydney situation? On Thursday Sue Holliday, Director-General of DUAP misleadingly said on radio that the biggest impact on Sydney is the pollution caused by people living on the outskirts having to drive long distances to work. If one takes the trouble to look at the figures we find this travel can only equate to less than 1% of all private car travel in Sydney. It is completely overwhelmed by the pollution from the stop-start travel caused by increasing densities.

Challenge I have challenged DUAP and their keynote speakers at the Sustainability Conference to give one example of a comparable high-density city that does not suffer from severe traffic congestion.

Here we see Paris, an old, high-density city with magnificent public transport and no freeways - all the attributes suggested by the high-density advocates. But it suffers choking traffic congestion.

Portland, Oregon is frequently quoted as an example of a modern high-density city, which has all the current facilities to avoid traffic problems. What the high-density advocates omit to tell us, is that Portland has a traffic congestion index approaching that of New York. Medium density living creates much concern about traffic at a local level. Interviews reveal that neighbours of medium density constructions remain very dissatisfied with the developments next door and the most significant source of complaint relates to traffic and parking problems. So much for the traffic myth.

Pollution Well we know that atmospheric pollution increases with high density; from vehicle emissions and from cooking. Cities are heat islands. If you chop the trees down, there is nothing to cool them. There is more noise. For example, since consolidation in the City of Yarra, there is three times the noise complaints since they started that. The staff has increased from three to seven, handling those complaints. And as Genia said, windows are closed, air conditioners are used, and there are more greenhouse emissions. And Michael Richardson mentioned stormwater. If you reduce open ground for absorption, there is more pollution into creeks. In fact the run-off figure in built up areas is more like ninety per cent. Composting diminishes. Then there is salinity; if you chop down trees then salinity problems can occur. In fact, we are already seeing that in Western Sydney, right now. And another factor is that multi-dwelling buildings have a much greater embodied energy than single dwellings.

Housing choice The first question to ask is: Where is the evidence that there is a lack of housing choice? Surely the onus is on DUAP to prove that this is the case. In fact, the evidence available shows no current lack of housing choice. That particular study concludes that there is no significant change in house acceptances on the part of household types, or any significant demand from empty-nesters. And they concluded that the large increase in multi-unit housing in inner- and middle-ring locations was being sustained, almost entirely, by new migrants to the Sydney metropolitan area.

So there will be less choice, not more. All the evidence which I have found indicates that high density will reduce our quality of life.

Community objections to this destruction are proving that the amenity we enjoy is highly valued.

But the government is not listening. [Slides of low, medium and high density reveal the choices]


The unanswered question is why? Why do this to us. Where can we see a high-density city that is not afflicted with the problems DUAP claims its policies will eliminate? Well, DUAP avoids giving us an answer to our question!

Developers in the planning process It is revealing to investigate the degree to which developers become involved in influencing the planning process. A review in Victoria showed that interaction of developers in the planning process has been very goods for business.

The construction industry and shopping centres would like to monopolise a large catchment customer base. And they oppose opposition to their schemes; they spend enormous sums in the courts and on their consultants. And they set up bogus community groups to swing the odds in their favour. In the last electoral cycle, in New South Wales, property developers contributed more than a million dollars to the governing Party - almost four times the contributions from the union movement. And it has been mentioned that the Minister's Residential Strategy Advisory Committee comprises six members, three of whom are from the development industry.

DUAP does not answer our questions. Where is Sue Holliday today? On Tuesday last week I had an article published in The Daily Telegraph. On that day, Sue Holliday phoned Gordon Hocking, the forum organiser, to say that she could not attend for personal reasons. And what is more, she refused to send any substitute. As Gordon says: DUAP's attitude is, "We don't explain our policies; we just enforce them".

What are the alternatives to cramming us together? I feel that we must avoid the mistakes of the past. And there are alternatives, as has been mentioned today by Michael Richardson, and they have been mentioned today by various speakers. We could, in remote locations, or greenfield locations put magnet developments that attract other developments.

We can have rapid transport systems, subsidised communications, and very importantly, personal and business income tax concessions as has been mentioned here today. This would employ energy saving features, integrate facilities and all sorts of very pleasant other attributes could be incorporated, instead of ruining the existing suburbs within Sydney.

In conclusion I would like to stress that we need an integrated population policy at federal, state and local government level.

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Prosper through growth

Brent Davis, Director of Trade and International, Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry

Transcript not yet available

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