Australia’s population has recently hit the 25 million mark, a milestone reached decades earlier than expected. In Victoria, the City of Wyndham had the second largest percentage increase in population of all Local Government Areas in Victoria, adding over 62,500 people in 5 years. Some people are conflicted about whether Australia’s population should continue to grow at all. There are tensions between the various dimensions of ‘sustainability’, significant implications for economic growth and concerns around community cohesion and wellbeing. A forward-looking integrated population policy might offer a way to be prepared to respond to the current and future needs of Australians. So, what would a good population policy look like and how can Australia turn demographic challenges into opportunities?
On 27 September 2018 CPD and ANU hosted leaders from government, business, civil society and academia to consider some answers to these questions.
This event was hosted by ANU Chancellor and former Foreign Minister, the Hon Gareth Evans AC QC and was moderated by CPD CEO Travers McLeod.
- Professor Peter McDonald AM (Emeritus Professor of Demography in the Crawford School of Public Policy.); and
- Kelly Grigsby (Chief Executive Officer of Wyndham City Council).
Peter McDonald opened the discussion with an overview of recent migration trends. He explored an approach to international migration that is responsive to short- and medium-term labour demand – while optimising the impact of immigration on population ageing. He also touched on the idea of the regional settlement of migrants arguing that, ironically, reducing international migration to the large cities would make it harder for the regions (including Adelaide and Hobart) to maintain their populations. Peter also shared some insights into the priorities of the new Minister for Cities, Urban Infrastructure and Population, Alan Tudge.
Much of the following group discussion focused on how high population growth will affect infrastructure needs, education needs and health needs, considering policy responses to increasing commute times, over-crowded public transport, school shortages and an undersupply of affordable housing.
CPD would like to thank Gareth Evans and the team at ANU House for hosting the event, and all the participants who contributed to another engaging ANU-CPD Policy Dialogue.