Our politicians are ignoring the realities of population growth

“It is potentially the biggest economic and social challenge we face. Yet, it hardly registers in the popular debates. Within the lifetime of the typical Australian the number of people living here is expected to jump 60% from 23.3 million today to 37.6 million by 2050.” Why Australia needs to get real on population growth by Christopher Joye in the Australian Financial Review shows exactly why the modern day politicians are more concerned about re-election over strategic policy making.

Just this week we saw Sydney’s weekend traffic not only rivals weekday peak hour but also lasts through most of the day where traffic at 11am on a weekend is now the same as at 5pm on a weekday, where there are close to 500,000 travelers on Sydney roads, according to the state government’s Household Travel Survey 2011–12. The problem is now that bad that the state government is now introducing permanent weekend clearways which will definitely enrage local businesses that rely on this parking for passing trade. As they roll out more and more permanent weekend clearways local councils will be forced to provide more community parking facilities – but where?

The only intelligent alternative that I can see is under existing playing fields – for example a super car park built under Alan Border Oval would be a perfect example. Councils could then charge for all day parking which would see less cars going to the city with direct bus and ferry transport packages sold to those using the car park.

Even if many see such a proposal to be farfetched, we approximately know what the population will be in 2050 but have absolutely no idea what needs to be done to meet this surge in population.

It is just as interesting to note that car ownership is up 24% over the past decade to 2.6 million vehicles whilst the city’s population has grown by 12% to 4.5 million people. There are now 1.54 vehicles for every Sydney household. About 42% of households own two or more cars.

Today, we see the state government investing robustly in future road projects like WestConnex and the M2 to M1 link, however there needs to be much more. The only problem as to why there is not more is simply due to governments having insufficient funds, which paints a very sad long term view of where we will be in 37 years’ time.



Source: ABS

Interestingly HIA chief economist, Harley Dale, commented that these updated projections represent a “massive shift” and “it is now clear that the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has been materially underestimating real population growth rates for some time.”

Christopher Joye for years has criticised ABS projections for being too conservative. In a speech to the Housing Industry Association in July he posited that the nation faced a “population planning crisis” that could precede an equally serious housing and infrastructure catastrophe.

CommSec’s Craig James said: “Who would have thought 10 years ago that we would be building more apartments than free-standing homes today.

“At the end of the day somebody has to take a stand and drive this agenda.”

I would have thought a Housing Minister would be a great start and Malcolm Turnbull would be the ideal candidate. Makes one find it hard to comprehend the reasons why, Prime Minister Tony Abbott does not see a need for a Housing Minister in his government.

We observed this week a rapid decline in the number of houses on the market as vendors conclude negotiations for 2013. Surprisingly our peak selling season this year (spring/summer) failed to break the 100 mark although on November 21 it did reach 99.

I was scanning through Twitter (at home) this week and I came across an interesting conversation about property auction statistics 1,438 auctions missing: Sydney’s Impossible Property Search. “Looking back at the data for Sydney from APM, only 510 (483 auctions + 27 withdrawn) actually got reported. So an incredible 392 (902 – 510) auctions went missing. Of those 510 auctions that did get reported, there were 410 that sold, giving a reported auction clearance rate of 80.4% (410/510).”

“Using APM’s data: my transparent calculations show the real clearance rate was a decidedly chilly 45.5% (410/902); the lowest clearance rate since 13 April 2013.

“Once again there is a huge difference between the reported rate and the real rate. This week it was 34.9 percentage points; the biggest difference since I started collating the data in March 2013.”

This has been going on for years and these figures have been fudged by agents to prop-up clearance rates, and APM is after all owned by Fairfax Media whose very own print media revenues are struggling.

Robert Simeon
is a director of
Richardson  Wrench Mosman and Neutral Bay and has been selling residential real estate in Sydney since 1985.

He has also been writing real estate blog Virtual Realty News since 2000.

The RWM real estate model has sold in excess of $1 billion in database sales globally.



Robert Simeon

Robert Simeon

Robert Simeon is a director of Richardson Wrench Mosman and Neutral Bay and has been selling residential real estate in Sydney since 1985. He has also been writing real estate blog Virtual Realty News since 2000.

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