City of Greater Geraldton Mayor, and Chairman of the WA Regional Cities Alliance, Ian Carpenter expressed concern at statements in Planning Minister John Day’s address to the Committee for Economic Development of Australia on Tuesday (Feb 14), on WA’s recent population growth projections.

He said Minister Day’s comments reinforced the Alliance’s push for the decentralisation of Perth.

“However the Alliance is concerned about the WA Tomorrow 2012 population growth key findings, that the medium term 20 year trend forecasts used by government to plan for service delivery and budgeting, are also used to influence planning policy.”

Of specific concern was the reference “Population growth – key findings – These medium-term 20-year trend forecasts are used by Government to plan for service delivery and budgeting. The forecasts also influence planning policy.”

“Clearly there is a huge risk this document will create a self-fulfilling prophecy directing more funds to Perth, directly stimulating the economy, jobs and more people located in Perth,” Mr Carpenter said.

It is widely acknowledged Perth is fast becoming a vast urban sprawl, with traffic problems and other factors seriously undermining the quality of life for its residents.

Mr Carpenter said what is needed is a new State Plan which identifies clear policies and strategies to facilitate the development of major regional cities to share the burden and benefit of the projected population growth. This includes relocating government departments and agencies across the key regional cities.

“We need population targets that can be worked towards – it is counterproductive to simply assume the vast majority of all population growth in this State will go to Perth.

“This will see a more sustainable and less sprawled Perth and strong vibrant regional cities – on the whole a stronger, more sustainable and balanced State,” said Mr Carpenter.

“The ball sits firmly in the State Government’s hands.”