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ABC News Breakfast -

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(generated from captions) vote is up 7 points to 42%.

We're getting plenty of viewer

feedback on the issue of

sustainable population A very

keynote policy, not so much

shift but policy calibration

Julia Gillard announced over

the weekend, including this

message that says it's very obvious Julia Gillard is trying to win back Western Sydney

voters with this announcement

of backing away from Kevin

Rudd's move to a so-called big

Australia. That's all this

sudden population talk and

change in name is all about.

Labor is scared by the results recently in Western Sydney.

More Labor spin from the queen

of spin herself, in a hurry to

rush to the election." And so

for more on this, as we've just

heard the Prime Minister has

reversed apparently the policy

position of her predecessor,

and while she a stating she is

not interested in a big

Australia she has indicated she

will put the brakes on

immigration to develop a more

sustainable nation. Kelvin

Thompson has joined us in the

studio. Good morning. And the

Chief Executive of the Urban

Taskforce Australia joins us

now from Sydney. Good morning

to you. If I could start with

you, firstly, what is wrong,

why isn't it in Australia's

national interests to aim for a

sustainable population and not

a so-called big Australia? I

have never met anyone who's

actually argued for unsustainable population

growth. I don't think that's

the issue. That's a phrase. I

think everyone would support sustainable population growth.

The issue is what kind of

population growth has made

Australia the country that it

is today? If you look back over

the last 40 years, Australia

has grown at 1.4% on average

each of the last 40 years. Even

Kevin Rudd's projections of 36

million by 2050 assumed a

reduction in our historical

rate of population growth. In

fact it would've been a 14%

reduction on our average annual

rate of population growth. 36

million is not a frightening

figure when you think about how

Australia has grown and changed

over the last 40 years. Do you

agree with that figure? I believe that 36 million is too

many. When the Treasury

probably jekss for that were

announced late last year, I

said Australia needs to have a

national debate about

population and I'm pleased that we've been having that national

deb debate. The truth is that

36 million for Australia means

an extra couple of million people for Melbourne, an extra

2 million people for Sydney, an

extra couple of million people

for Brisbane. That means

housing un affordable. We've

had housing affordability

decline by 22% over the course

of the past 12 months. It's

becoming impossible for young

people to afford a home. It

means traffic congestion, loss

of say over planning decisions

and the like, impact on cost of

living, so I think we need to

aim for a much more sustainable

population than we're looking

for at present. What would you

feedback and some commentary have to say about the viewer

that is essentially dog whistle

politics. You can talk about

population but in fact what you

really are playing to are fears

that asylum seekers? The point about immigration and beyond

here is that we need to have a

population policy in the best

interests of Australia and

passes on an Australian way of

life in as good a condition to

our children and our

grandchildren as the one given

to us. Julia Gillard's

announcement shows she is on

the wavelength of ordinary

Australians 70% of whom they

don't want Australia at 36

million. They want us to move

in the direction of a more

stable and sustainable

population. Is this pandering

to fear of immigrants and

asylum seekers? No, it's not a

question of fear. I support

migration. The policy that I've

advanced saying that we should

be tracking for 26 million

rather than 36 million says we

should have net overseas

migration of 70,000. That's not

no migration, not no netting

migration saying 70,000 net

every year and indeed I believe

the refugee there is a case for increasing

the refugee intake to 20,000. How can governments be

expected to provide, to reduce

the congestion pressures to

cope with the population of 36

million million people? Let's

first talk about this idea that

we've got to pass on the

Australia we have to today to

the next generation. The

Australia we have today is the

product of population growth.

40 years ago in 1970,

Australia's population was 13

million. It's grown by near to

10 million since then. And that

economic wealth that's been

created has made Australia what

it is today. And that's included extra taxation revenue

for all levels of government to

invest in infrastructure. I

think the problem here is in

the last 10 years

the last 10 years investment in

urban infrastructure, the

roads, the hospital services,

the public transport network of

our major cities has been in

declined and people have

noticed the congestion and the

problems that come from that.

We will be cutting off our nose

to spite our face to end

population growth or slow

population growth in response

to completely different issue.

The issue is: why isn't the tax

revenue from population growth

that's being reaped by federal,

State and local governments flowing into urban

infrastructure in the way that

it used to 20 years ago, 30

years ago or 40 years

State Government, Federal ago? There are arguments for

Governments to create new

cities in regional parts of the

country to cater for the

increase in population people like our groups are calling

for. Is that a feasible option

for governments to take?

People will want to live where

the jobs are. You can't move

people around Australia like

they're pieces on a chessboard.

They will want to live where

their network of family and

friends are but they also want

to live where they have a good opportunity for employment and

an income. It's areas of economic activity that

economic activity that will

attract people. This idea that

if you dramatically lower immigration, you will somehow

have less people in south-east

Queensland, Sydney perhaps,

Melbourne or Perth and more in

other areas is a nonsense.

Where there is strong economic

activity the businesses will pay at the end of the day what

they need to to attract the

labour force in. Will you

actually get a worse result.

You will still have congestion

in cities. You won't have the

tax revenue to invest in

infrastructure and regional

areas will be drained of

people. Now, could you go and

create new cities out of the

dust in the middle of nowhere?

Not unless there's an economic

rationale for those cities. Not

unless there is a mining

industry, a tourism industry or

some other thing that's going

to provide employment for

people living there. Do you

risk losing business if you

talk about a not so big Australia? I

Australia? I believe it's in

Australia's economic interest

to move to a more stable

population growth path. What

has occurred in other parts of

the world is that 8 of the 10

most prosperous countries in

terms of GDP per capita are

countries with a population of

less than 10 million. If

economic prosperity was really

associated with population

growth then the richest nations

in the world would be China and

India. That is manifestly not

true. The truth is if we're able to stabilise our population, this will create

job opportunities for people

presently outside the work

force, for Indigenous

Australians, increasing our

participation right will make

for a more productive and

prosperous economy. We'll have

to leave it there. Thank you