March 10th 2018

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY Family home in cities soaring further out of reach

EDITORIAL Australia: sleepwalking towards the precipice

CANBERRA OBSERVED Population debate needs development debate

NATIONAL AFFAIRS We need a development bank and a higher population

FOREIGN AFFAIRS Russians were spoilers: U.S. election rap sheet

NATIONAL AFFAIRS Bob Santamaria and free trade agreements

LAW AND FREEDOM Exemptions are far cry from protection of religious freedom

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS China v Professor Brady: intimidation or coincidence?

POLITICS AND SOCIETY Defending biological man and woman from transgenderism

SOUTH AUSTRALIA Swing to minor parties expected in SA poll

ASIA Burma: ignored and misunderstood

HISTORY The improbability of progress

MUSIC Playing the pitch: being in tune is a sometime thing

CINEMA Wonder: Our deeds are our monuments

BOOK REVIEW Exploring our own recent archives

BOOK REVIEW Rising in a society fractured at heart

BOOK REVIEW A dubious thesis but deserves a read

NEWS Pat Byrne elected new NCC president

NATIONAL AFFAIRS Liberals return for second term in Hobart

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We need a development bank and a higher population

by Patrick J. Byrne

News Weekly, March 10, 2018

If Australia is to be taken seriously in the fastest growing region of the world, it will need to expand its population to around 50 million and requires a development bank to put the infrastructure in place.

Recently, the Federal Government’s Infrastructure Australia warned that while the population expected to grow by an extra 12 million people over the next 30 years, the current $50 billion infrastructure program only dealt with current congestion and productivity issues in the nation’s capital cities.

Voters are angry at the inflated house prices and congestion from the nation’s rapid population growth, which will require a city the size of Canberra to be built annually. The nation is growing at 1.6 per cent, or about 390,000 people annually. About half is from immigration.

But the real issues are much bigger.

As U.S. military power wanes, it is in Australia’s national interest to expand its population, in part to resist being drawn into China’s economic and strategic vortex. To that end, development policies should aim at settling wider areas of this sparsely settled continent.

There is an urgent need for infras­tructure investment to be expanded and focused by decentralisation policies to take the pressure off capital cities.

Further, if Australia is to supply food, raw materials and goods and services to Asia’s burgeoning middle class, expected to grow from 900 million today to 3 billion by 2030, it will need to expand its infrastructure and population.

To finance this investment, Australia needs a national development bank to build the roads, reservoirs, airports and telecommunications, as well as cities and agriculture and mining industries.

If the Federal Government can back China’s Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, why can’t Australia have its own development bank?

Australia has enormous capacity for population expansion, particularly as the human footprint is tiny. The population density of Australia is only 3.25 per square kilometre.

This compares with China and Indonesia at 100-150 persons per sq km, while India and its neighbours have densities of over 1000 per sq km.

The only high density areas of Australia are the capital cities; over 90 per cent of the continent is lightly populated.

Patrick J. Byrne is national president of the National Civic Council.

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April 4, 2018, 6:45 pm