University of Melbourne researchers have discovered how to retrofit homes to be more energy efficient, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and cutting electricity bills significantly.

ABC Television’s two-part exploration of immigration and population on Monday evening would have benefitted from a stronger planning focus, Planning Institute of Australia (PIA) Chief Executive Officer David Williams said on Tuesday.

“How well we as a nation plan for rapid population growth will largely determine our economic and environmental sustainability and our future wellbeing,” Mr Williams said.

“So it was disappointing PIA and the planning profession were not at the table on Monday to discuss the implications of high population growth and how we can be better prepared to meet its challenges.”

Sarah Hill (RPIA) from the Greater Sydney Commission appeared briefly on Four Corners, but the Q&A program that followed afterwards lacked any planning perspectives at all.

A sizeable PIA contingent was present in the Q&A audience, with questions prepared for the panel. It included National President Brendan Nelson, NSW Division President Jenny Rudolph, and National Principal Policy Officer John Brockhoff.

However, none got the nod from moderator Tony Jones.

“There was lots of chatter on the panel itself and amongst the viewing audience about the need for better planning and infrastructure provision – but nothing from planners!” Mr Williams.

The debate on planning for settlement across Australia had to be led by planners, he said.

“PIA has repeatedly called for a national settlement strategy, and the means to allow this to be implemented. We need a national chief planner, a ministerial council of planning ministers, and engagement on scenario planning for our future.

“Our members in the Q&A audience would have raised these vital aspects of national planning policy if they had been asked.

“We understand the difficulties of producing live television,” Mr Williams added, “but a contribution or a perspective from PIA would have made this a better-informed and more balanced discussion.”

On a more optimistic note, Mr Williams said he spoke to Q&A producers after the program who indicated that interest in the population debate was such that a follow-up program was likely.

“A debate on population is something we support,” Mr Williams said. “But we want to see it directed to the way we plan and support our growing small and large cities.”

“We hope the ABC – with planners on board – explores this more fully in its next instalment on the population debate”.