One of the most influential arms of the ACT Government, the Department of Economic Development, has given its ringing endorsement to population growth as a key driver in Canberra’s future economic prosperity.
The Property Council’s ACT executive director, Catherine Carter, said today that the Property Council had been lobbying the ACT Government to adopt a realistic and sustainable population goal of 500,000 citizens by the year 2030.
Ms Carter said the high-profile executive hired last year by the ACT Government to run its economic development programs, Shane Gilbert, has now categorically linked population growth with crucial injections of billions of dollars of investment into Canberra’s economy.
“This acknowledgment of the vital role that higher population will play to sustain a dynamic city economy is an important breakthrough,” Ms Carter said.
“The bar has to be set high because we are facing a national skills crisis and desperate competition from all other states and territories for investment dollars. We think that for Canberra to become an economic force to be reckoned with, there has to be recognition that population growth is the key.”
Mr Gilbert’s statement that Canberra’s population could reach 380,000 within 15 years is certainly a step in the right direction. He has also recognised that Canberra has the capacity to grow within its borders flanked by more growth in satellite communities like Queanbeyan. However, Ms Carter said that a sustainable water supply for Canberra is vital if it is to sustain growth. The Property Council believes the only answer is to build a new dam.
“The ACT and surrounding region need a proper and adequate water strategy to address the existing and prospective needs of the region over the next 50 years,” Ms Carter said.
“The sort of city we want Canberra to be can only be possible if we have enough people,” Ms Carter said. “It is the only way to sustain our economy and the only way to retain our valuable workforce of competent experts, professionals and workers.
“The Property Council sees Canberra as a really fantastic place to live, work and play. But the only way to maintain our current level of services, provide a future for our children and develop the city is through population growth.
“We all want to see Canberra having a strong and vibrant future, and the Government’s Department of Economic Development sees population power as the answer. It’s now time to move forward.”
Ms Carter said that earlier this year, the Federal Government had announced a Productivity Commission inquiry into the effects of population growth and migration on national productivity growth, to examine the impact of skilled and unskilled migration within different industries and occupations and identify ways in which population growth limited productivity growth.
“The ACT Government now has a golden opportunity to initiate its own inquiry into the likely impact of population growth on productivity, and we’d encourage them to do so,” Ms Carter said.
Catherine Carter, Executive Director, 02 6248 6902 or 0412 330 079