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Perrottet’s shock population plan to stuff the nation

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Premier Dominic Perrottet is aiming to increase immigration at the expense of the environment (Image by Dan Jensen)

The reckless determination of the NSW Premier to increase the state's population without solid planning will ultimately add to the climate crisis, writes Sue Arnold.

NSW PREMIER Dominic Perrottet wants a six-city mega region.   

The Australian Financial Review reported:

‘Australia needs an explosive post-World War II-style immigration surge that could bring in 2 million people over five years...’

The reporter, Jacob Greber, identified:

‘The top-secret, politically sensitive document was prepared by the NSW Government’s top mandarins as part of an incoming Premier’s brief put together by the Department of Premier and Cabinet.’

Greber further indicated that the AFR had seen the advice.    

As a result of the article (and similar articles which supported the claim that a secret advice had been prepared), Australians for Animals Inc submitted a freedom of information request to the department seeking any reports on the environmental impacts of the proposed increase.  

This is the response received:

I have today decided your application by deciding under section 58(1)(b) of the GIPA Act that the information is not held by the Department. 


I am advised that on 12 October 2021, an article appeared in the Australian Financial Review titled “Australia needs ‘explosive’ surge of 2 million migrants”. It appears that information in the article was sourced from the Incoming Premier Brief prepared for the current Premier, the Hon. Dominic Perrottet MP. The figures quoted in this article appear based on the journalist’s calculation of Australia’s population growth of 194,400 in the year ending June 2020. This figure was then doubled to 400,000 and multiplied by five.

A copy of an incoming brief was included in the response and this is the only statement relevant to immigration:

‘An ambitious national immigration plan similar to Australia’s post–World War II approach would ensure Australia would benefit from skills, investment and population growth. It could be time-limited (for example, doubling pre-COVID immigration levels for the next five years) and unashamedly focused on the skilled migration we need to develop key industry sectors.’

There has been no formal denial by Perrottet that his Government will not pursue any recommendation to increase immigration to 2 million over the next five years. 

Questions remain.  

According to the 2021-22 NSW Intergenerational Report, the state’s current population is 8.2 million.

It says:

‘By 2061, we project there will be 11.5 million people living in New South Wales, 3.3 million more than in 2020.’

The additional 3.3 million people will be made up by 40% natural increase and 60% from net migration. 

Additional new homes required by 2061 are one home for every two existing homes today, says the report: 

‘We project that 1.7 million new homes will be needed by 2060-61 to support population growth and demographic trends. This is equivalent to around 42,000 new homes every year over the next 40 years. This will be a significant challenge.’

Is the intention of the “top secret report“ to ramp up three quarters of the population increase within five years instead of 41?   

Perrottet claims credit for being part of a government that has delivered “mega projects on a mega scale”

He enthusiastically announced a $5 billion fund for parks, modernised schools and high streets in western Sydney to “enhance liveability”

Perrottet’s six-city plan is an expansion of Lucy Turnbull’s three metropolis project which she developed during her time as Chief Commissioner of the Greater Sydney Commission.   The “vision” included the Western Parkland City, Central River City and Eastern Harbour City, projected to house 8 million over the next 40 years.  

Green infrastructure such as urban tree canopy, green ground cover, bushlands, waterways, parks and open spaces... valued for its economic, social and environmental benefits’ is the major sell.

Camden, Campbelltown Fairfield, Hawksbury, Liverpool, Penrith and Wollondilly local governments ‘will be instrumental in delivering on the aspirations of the Western Parkland City’

The Commission placed no value on existing “green infrastructure”, one that will destroy mega wildlife diversity, including an important koala population, to make way for the millions wanting that “dream lifestyle”. 

Describing grass and native vegetation as ‘green ground cover’ must be a new low in government descriptors. Or does it mean artificial grass? 

The Greater Sydney area was expected to increase from 5.07 million in 2017 to 5.52 million in 2040. 

Perrottet’s new plan involves Newcastle, the Central Coast and Wollongong — cities already overcrowded with amenity issues growing on a daily basis.     

Is Perrottet’s proposal a next step in the grand plan, shared by other states, to have a national population of 50 million? A growth plan with endless economic, social and environmental costs. 

In 2000, former Premier Bob Carr bought into the discussion and his words ring true in 2021:

“Right down the east coast of Australia you’d see the end between the coast and the mountain range, you’d see an end of any farming, any conservation, open space. 


An Australia with a population of 50 million means a totally citified, totally urbanised coast. It would mean about 10 million living in the Sydney basin where you’ve got 4 million at the present time.” 

A 2016 Draft North Coast Regional Plan provides a further glimpse of the future growth plan devotees have in store for the state. The draft is a proposed blueprint for the next 20 years with the population expected to grow to almost 645,000. Tweed, Coffs Harbour, Port Macquarie are anticipated to have 67% growth. 

The plan also includes Byron Shire which is reeling from an ongoing housing crisis, forcing too many to sleep in cars, caravans, garages and vans. Housing prices have gone through the roof with the median price for a three-bedroom house well over $1 million.    

These same areas underpin a $4.1 billion contribution annually from agriculture and tourism.

The region is one of the most biologically diverse in Australia and at least 15 of region’s reserves have World Heritage status. 

In 2017, the Australian population was around 24.1 million people, the highest rate of population growth of all medium and large OECD countries. 

More than three quarters of the growth was in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth. The rate was described as hostage to the growth machine by Professor Glen Searle, Associate Professor of Planning at the University of Queensland.  

The Federal Government’s 2021 Intergenerational Report predicts a population of 38 million in 2060-61. The Australian Bureau of Statistics makes the assumption that the population will reach between 37.4 and 49.2 million people by 2066. 

In a section focused on understanding migration and its effects, the intergenerational report notes: 

‘To plan for future migration-driven population growth, it is important to consider its effects on Australia’s economy, fiscal sustainability, environment and planning, and social cohesion.’

In terms of protecting the environment, a brief paragraph or two says ‘the Australian Government funds actions including habitat protection as well as improving the measurement and valuation of Australia’s natural assets’.

Identification of government actions resulting in habitat protection have not been included in the report. Nor any valuation or description of Australia’s natural assets.

On climate change and carbon emissions, the report claims:

‘Australia has reduced its own emissions faster than many similar countries...


Exports of our low emissions technology support rising prosperity and mitigation efforts in our region.’

The 2021-22 NSW Intergenerational Report contains no references to the environment or biodiversity. Climate change barely rates a mention.     

Sustainable Population Australia says adding more people on the driest continent is strangling our fragile ecosystems causing habitat destruction and species loss, at the same time experiencing the planet’s sixth great extinction event. 

British charity Population Matters quotes 2020 research evaluating 44 countries, with emissions arising as a result of population growth wiping out two-thirds of the reduction in emissions arising from greater energy efficiency between 1990 and 2019.  

Their website states:

‘Every additional person increases carbon emissions.’ 

Perrottet needs to deny the “top secret report” or explain how increasing the population by 2 million people in five years sits with his pledge to halve carbon emissions by 2030.      

Politicians have resisted calls for a senate inquiry to investigate Australia’s optimum sustainable population.   

The absolute failure of governments to address the environmental and social costs to massive unprecedented increases in migration must be investigated.  

Australians have a right to decide on their quality of life. 

No population increase can be legitimately supported without comprehensive analyses and modelling of the real factors influencing Australia’s carrying capacity.

Sue Arnold is an IA columnist and freelance investigative journalist. You can follow Sue on Twitter @koalacrisis.

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