By Angela Dorizas
The Queensland Government must consider an increase in taxes to manage future population growth, a new report has found.
Population expert, Professor Peter McDonald, has delivered his draft report on the need for a Queensland population policy to the Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ).
Professor McDonald warned that population growth could not be slowed and the imposition of higher taxes may need to be considered.
“The inquiry has concluded that substantial future growth is already embedded in the state’s economy and that there appears to be little immediate prospect of current growth rates in Queensland – including those in south-east Queensland – slowing from current levels through reasonable policy initiatives available to the state or federal governments,” he said.
“From this perspective, the key issue becomes one of effective growth management, seeking to accommodate growth without compromising liveability, affordability and long-term ecological sustainability.”
Professor McDonald said rapid population growth would require significant upfront investment in new public infrastructure.
“Current budget forecasts of a decline in capital investment in coming years, as well as the current policy for the state to be seen as a low-tax state, do not appear to be consistent with the task confronting Queensland in effectively managing projected growth,” he said.
Professor McDonald said the inquiry found that there was strong support within the community for increasing the proportion of the population living outside South East Queensland (SEQ).
“The provision of quality infrastructure and services in regional centres will be a vital element of any strategy to attract a greater proportion of population growth to locations outside SEQ,” he said.
“Incentives, and possibly disincentives in SEQ, may also be required to attract an increased share of the state’s employment growth to regional centres.
“The critical nexus between regional job availability and population growth must be recognised as fundamental in any policy to attract growth to regional Queensland.”
Professor McDonald said an explicit statement of Population Policy by the Queensland government was required.
LGAQ vice-president, Margaret de Wit, said the association will consider the report’s findings at a meeting in Brisbane on July 1.
“At this stage, the report's findings do not represent association policy," Cr de Wit said.
In the meantime, the association will undertake an extensive, three-week community and council consultation program on the findings and recommendations of the interim report
Cr de Wit said feedback from the community and councils would be sent to the Inquiry panel, which would release the final report by the end of June.
Interested groups or individuals are invited to post a written submission on the inquiry website.
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