A western Sydney mayor has delivered a dire warning to all levels of government about the state’s future, as Australia braces to welcome 650,000 migrants over the next two years.
New government figures predict the country is set to have its biggest population boom over the next 24 months with figures to surpass the 2008 “Big Australia” era.
An extra 456,700 people called Australia home between June 30, 2008 and June 30, 2009, with the growth rate 2.1 per cent higher than the average annual rate.
Now Treasury officials adjusting economic forecasts ahead of the federal budget anticipate Australia’s population growth to double that figure in the lead up to 2025, with 900,000 extra residents expected to move in across the country, according to The Daily Telegraph.
It’s understood the return of international students post-Covid, an influx of foreign workers and tourists will be contributing factors to the nation’s population growth.
While its welcome news for businesses struggling to fulfil skill shortages, one westerm Sydney leader has issued a word of caution about how such an influx will impact the Australian way of life.
While Fairfield Mayor Frank Carbone supports migration, he fears such numbers will further drive up the country’s cost of living and exacerbate the housing availability crisis.
“We can’t keep up at the moment, there’s not enough housing for people who live in Australia as far as the standard that we would expect,” he told 2GB radio host Ben Fordham.
“We can’t have 900,000 people coming in over two years when we can’t even build enough housing to accommodate that many people.”
Of that number, it’s expected 50,000 people will hunker down in Sydney each year, adding to its city and inner south population of 331,340 people.
However, with the city’s residential vacancy rates sitting at 1.3 per cent, according to SQM research, and rental vacancy rates at 1.7 per cent, Mr Carbone holds concerns about new migrants taking away housing opportunities for those already struggling in the market.
“We’re happy for migration, we’re always taking migration and people need to understand that before Covid there were 150,000 people coming every year to this country and many of them to Western Sydney and we were very happy to accommodate them,” he said.
“The fact is, what we don’t want to see and what we have seen over the past is granny flats popping up everywhere.”
According to the latest census data, just over 1.7 million people live across Sydney’s outer west, south west, Blue Mountains, Parramatta and Blacktown suburbs, all in the state’s west.
As a result, Mr Carbone said the west is “full”, noting that more people would contribute to major traffic congestion, overcrowding and a higher cost of living.
“All this is going to do is cause people’s pay packets to go down because of competition but prices of housing, prices of rental and prices for all the goods that we buy everyday will go up,” he said.
“Everyone knows how long it takes to line up at hospitals to get services these days. How is the increase to 900,000 people over two years going to help?”
He hinted if the government had a plan to improve infrastructure and were willing to rethink ways to accommodate the large number of people, the city may be in a better position to cope with the influx.
“We would accept it if the government said ‘we had a plan to improve infrastructure, rail corridors, metros, housing and in the next five years, we’re going to increase migration to help our economy’,” he said.
“But that hasn’t happened … You can’t build houses that quick.”
Meanwhile everyday Australians have taken to social media to vent their frustrations and concerns over what the population boom could mean for their livelihoods.
“So what do you suggest we do with the population boom in Sydney, where do you suggest they live?,” one worried Australian tweeted.
Another resident questioned: “Can someone tell me how a population boom will help Australia’s MASSIVE housing crisis?”
“It was 24 million in 2017, we’ve had a population boom since then. We’re on track to hit 50m by 2050!” a third added.
“Melbourne and Sydney will be unbearable then!”
Australia’s population currently sits at 26,407,138 people, with an overall population increase of one person every 55 seconds.