She announced the change during her statement to Sydneysiders, which was the major cause for the drop in Labor support in the area after polls indicated a sharp 30 percent drop. The major issue for Western Sydney voters was the asylum seeker issue campaigned by the Rudd leadership.
"If you spoke to the people of western Sydney, for example, about a 'big Australia' they would laugh at you and ask you a very simple question: where will these 40 million people go?" Ms Gillard said.
The policy change envisioned by the new PM would outline a two-speed immigration policy running hand in hand with the country's two-speed economy. This she says poses a very difficult problem but is not intended to open an immigration debate.
"It is a debate about planning affected by many factors - water supply, open space, infrastructure, ensuring the appropriate tax base to support our ageing population, the need for skills and the need to preserve a good quality life. Parts of Australia are desperate for workers, but other parts are desperate for jobs; having a smart and sustainable population strategy coupled with the right skills strategy will help improve this balance." Ms. Gillard stressed that the population growth should be limited, identifying one way to control the growth is by lessening the number of immigrants significantly that are allowed to enter the country.
To oversee these changes, she had renamed the Ministry of Population into the Ministry of Sustainable Population. The ministry is to be headed by Mr. Tony Burke and set the tone for the work by requiring the production of a comprehensive policy on skilled immigration and population within the year.
Ms. Gillard added that she does not support the setting of arbitrary targets but at the same time she did not want to make policy the cause of the inability of businesses to find suitable workers. She further added that, "I also don't want areas of Australia with 25 per cent youth unemployment because there are no jobs."
Australia's population is projected to rise from 22 million to 35.9 million by the year 2050, according to the Ministry of Treasury's Intergenerational Report. The projected numbers would be reached if the overseas migration and fertility policies would remain. In the cities, Melbourne is set to reach 7 million people while Sydney's headcount would reach 7.5 million by 2050. The report also projected increasing issues in urban population growth, such as blight and infrastructure shortages, would come to fore if policy changes are not undertaken immediately.
In 2009, overseas migration added nearly 300,000 individuals to the country's population, many of them hailing from developing nations such as the Philippines, Malaysia, India, Indonesia and Vietnam.