Department of the Environment

Archived media releases and speeches

The Hon Tony Burke MP

Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities

Gillard Government delivers first sustainable population strategy

Media release
13 May 2011

The Gillard Government today released the nation's first ever dedicated sustainable population strategy which sets out the framework, backed by new funding for a sustainable Australia.

Sustainability, Population and Communities Minister Tony Burke today launched Sustainable Australia - Sustainable Communities which outlines key directions to help ensure future population change supports the economic, environmental and social wellbeing of the nation.

The Strategy's focus is on population change rather than setting arbitrary targets, driving growth to regional areas by attracting skilled workers and more houses to where job opportunities are, and alleviating pressures in outer suburbs of major capital cities by supporting more local jobs.

"We have communities where there are not enough workers and communities where there are not enough jobs - a locally targeted approach to addressing population growth and change is needed," Mr Burke said.

"The resources boom mark II, the roll-out of the National Broadband Network and our ageing population will have significant impacts on Australia.

"A sustainable population strategy targeted at the needs of local communities is the right strategy for a patchwork economy.

"The Government will deliver housing and targeted immigration to where there is a shortage of workers and promote efficient infrastructure and local jobs where there are congestion issues.

"Population change is not only about the growth and overall size of the population, it's also about the needs and skills of our population, how we live and importantly, where we live.

"Sustainable Australia - Sustainable Communities sets out the framework for improving the mix of services, job and skilled training opportunities and affordable housing, whilst boosting the liveability of our cities and regions to ensure they are places people want to live, work and build a future."

It is backed by over $230 million in the 2011-12 Budget including:

  • $100 million for a Suburban Jobs initiative to drive more job opportunities within easy reach of where people live in the outer suburbs of Australia's major capital cities. This initiative will support local and state governments to deliver employment precincts, manufacturing hubs and multifunction developments close to residential areas in growing outer suburbs;
  • $81.4 million in new investments in the National Urban Policy to help cities become more productive, sustainable and liveable, including $61.4 million for a smart managed motorways trial to cut motorway congestion and bring mums and dads home from work faster, and $20 million for a Liveable Cities program to invest in the development of urban renewal projects that improve access to jobs and housing, enhancing the liveability of our cities;
  • $29.2 million for a new Sustainable Regional Development initiative to support better sustainability planning in regions experiencing high growth through strategic assessments under national environmental law in up to seven additional regional and coastal growth areas;
  • $11.5 million for a new Promoting Regional Living Program to support Australia's regions to market themselves as an alternative to living in a major capital city; and
  • $10.1 million for a new Measuring Sustainability program to develop a set of sustainability indicators that can be factored in at a regional level to better inform decision makers.

These measures build on $100 million the Government is delivering as part of the Building Better Regional Cities initiative to build more affordable homes in regional cities to relieve pressure on major capital cities.

"Our strategy is backed by more than $4.3 billion in investments in regional hospitals, health care, universities and roads to lift living standards outside the capitals, provide the best services and help regional communities reach their potential," Mr Burke said.

Sustainable Australia - Sustainable Communities builds on the Government's agenda:

  • health, to relieve pressure on our system as Australia's population grows and ages;
  • water, to ensure sustainable use for communities, industries, and the environment;
  • building the National Broadband Network to connect regional Australia to the economic capitals of this nation and the world;
  • drive lasting improvements to the way our nation plans, finance and builds the infrastructure it needs to compete in the 21st Century;
  • skills, education and training to deal with structural economic shifts; and
  • reforming skilled migration to restore integrity and get skilled labour to employers who need it.

In addition, the 2011-12 Budget outlined 16,000 new places for skilled migrants through the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme, a 60 per cent increase on last year.

New Regional Migration Agreements will boost effectiveness of the migration program by ensuring it responds to changing economic needs, including building the skills needed in regional areas.

"It's important that new skilled migrants go to jobs and areas where they are needed most, particularly to meet the demands of the resource boom," Mr Burke said.

"This is the beginning of our agenda for more sustainable Australia. The Prime Minister will also begin a COAG process that asks state premiers to lead development of Commonwealth-state reforms that are of particular relevance to their jurisdiction whether it be demand for workers or addressing congestion."

Sustainable Australia - Sustainable Communities has been informed by advice from three advisory panels, a sustainable population issues paper and a public consultation process in which over 370 public submissions were received.

For more information about Sustainable Australia - Sustainable Communities or to obtain a copy visit