Population Policy | ANU-CPD POLICY DIALOGUE | September 2018

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.

Featured speakers:

  • 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.

Kelly Grigsby built on these remarks by providing the perspective of one of the fastest growing councils of Australia, Wyndham City Council. She spoke about the policy shift the Council would like to see and the policy framework they are working on. She emphasised how Australia’s fast-growing outer suburbs play a vital role in supporting capital cities and regional Australia since they provide housing for much of the workforce that drives CBD economies and growing economic activity to support national productivity. She also touched on game-changing activities at the local government level around job creation and gave a sense of what it can mean for a Council to become a master of their own destiny.

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.

 

The opening remarks were followed by a wide-ranging discussion with a diverse and expert audience. Participants included: Anthea Hancocks (CEO, Scanlon Foundation), Abigail Lewis (Research Associate, Per Capita), Béatrice Derody (Senior Research Officer, Demography, Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, Victoria), Ben Davison (Chief of Staff, ACTU), Cathie Close  (Director, Victorian Department of Treasury and Finance), David Williams (CEO, Planning Institute of Australia), Fotis Kapetopoulos (Executive Officere guests, Ethnic Communities’Council of Victoria), Gareth Evans (Chancellor, ANU), Joel Farrell (Manager Organisational Performance & Engagement, Hume City Council), Kathryn Arndt (CEO, Victorian Local Governance Association), Kelly Grigsby (CEO, City Of Wyndham), Michel Masson (CEO, Infrastructure Victoria), Phil Ruthven (Founder and Director, IBIS World), Professor Peter McDonald AM (Emeritus Professor of Demography, Crawford School of Public Policy), Rob Adams (Director City Design, City of Melbourne), Sara Harbidge (Executive Director, Suburban Development, Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, Victoria), Terry Garwood (Deputy Secretary, Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning), Travers McLeod (CEO, The Centre for Policy Development), Bronwen Clark (Executive Officer, National Growth Areas Alliance).

 

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.

 

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