Page 4091 - Week 10 - Tuesday, 20 September 2011

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science that the more people we have the bigger our impact will be, particularly if we continue to grow or even stabilise our consumption. According to the ABS, the ACT population is increasing at a rate of about 1.8 per cent per annum, the third highest jurisdiction in Australia. Australia’s population growth sits at around 2.2 per cent, which is surprisingly high for a developed country.

ACT government figures indicate that our population is likely to increase to 409,000 by 2020 and nearly half a million by 2040. That is quite an increase for any city and there are obvious issues associated with such a growth rate. But, aside from that, it does pose a very challenging question for us: how do we reduce our impact on this part of the planet if we continue to see such substantial population growth?

To be honest, the same question applies to Australia and perhaps every country on this planet, and that is something that is a much bigger question than we can contemplate today.

An interesting consideration for the ongoing increases in population is the burden this places on the requirement for new infrastructure. According to Dr Jane Sullivan from the University of Queensland, around two per cent of infrastructure needs replacing each year. And of course with a two per cent increase in population we start to see a need to invest in even more infrastructure and the impact that that has on our city. Dr Sullivan has raised the concern that in fact our tax base struggles to cope with such a demand for infrastructure, perhaps best demonstrated in the underinvestment in south-east Queensland and in the outer suburbs of Sydney and Melbourne. So I think there are challenges for government in that regard here in the ACT.

Overall, there are very significant issues linked into this. I think the ecological footprint provides a useful tool for us to assess and to consider where our policies are going to go in the future. I think I am getting the wind-up look from Madam Assistant Speaker, so I will have to leave it there.

MADAM ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Ms Le Couteur): Thank you, Mr Rattenbury. The time for the discussion has now concluded.

Mitchell—chemical fire

Statement by minister

MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Attorney-General, Minister for the Environment and Sustainable Development, Minister for Territory and Municipal Services and Minister for Police and Emergency Services) (4.25): I table the following paper:

Mitchell chemical fire—Statement.

I move:

That the Assembly takes note of the paper.

Debate (on motion by Mr Rattenbury) adjourned to the next sitting.

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