Numbers game: Queensland’s population boom will require some tough decisions

At some point soon the Queensland community is going to have to find a bit of courage and make some tough decisions because the things we take for granted are in trouble.

Oct 13, 2023, updated Oct 13, 2023
Population and climate change are having big impacts already. (File image(

Population and climate change are having big impacts already. (File image(

Water security, housing, open space, electricity and lifestyle are being challenged by the increase in population and climate change. Taxpayers are being sucker-punched into paying for it because business and governments can’t deal with a fundamental issue of driving economic growth without resorting to population increases.

It’s something that seems to be going over the heads of a lot of people who probably have more pressing issues, like putting food on the table and filling their car and not going broke doing it.

But we are at a crossroads. That old lifestyle of south-east Queensland with its quarter-acre blocks, cheap housing, energy abundance and plenty of space is a fading memory.

On the cards is either more urban sprawl or more density. Do we want either?

Adding to that, huge dollars are being funnelled into dealing with growth and climate change.

Water is now an $8 billion question as the state plans for a second desalinator when the first one rarely operates.

The generation of electricity is fundamentally changing from coal and gas to renewables and the cost to taxpayers is skyrocketing. One project alone, CopperString in north Queensland, will cost taxpayers $5 billion. A pumped hydro project at Borumba Dam will cost $14.2 billion and let’s just consider that a conservative estimate.

Billions more will be spent by Government-owned corporations buying up renewable generation or taking a stake in generator projects.

Those wind farms will come at a cost for the environment. Thousands will be needed and sadly many will be built on ridges that up until now have been untouched.

While we should be debating these issues there is a critical issue that is at the very heart of those debates but gets lost: immigration and population and why we need it.

InQueensland in your inbox. The best local news every workday at lunch time.
By signing up, you agree to our User Agreement andPrivacy Policy & Cookie Statement. This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

It didn’t seem to be an issue discussed in the last federal election and a lot of that may be because of the sensitivity of raising immigration, which can quickly descend into outright racism or xenophobia.

The reason we need more people is because we won’t address fundamental questions on issues like productivity. The reason for the recent spike is a catch up from Covid when immigration stalled.

Currently, the reason we need population growth is because it drives the economy – more people equals more spending.

There aren’t many options to drive growth but population is the laziest of them. If we use it as a main economic driver then government and business don’t have the incentive to make investment decisions to improve productivity.

There is one view that it’s also easier for business to use the population option because it provides competition in the labour market (which means wages are suppressed) and instead of investing in productivity a business can channel its cash into dividends for shareholders.

We can’t continue on this path forever, but it will take courage for people to accept the need for change.

Local News Matters
Copyright © 2024 InQueensland.
All rights reserved.
Privacy Policy