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Australia doesn’t have a population policy – why?

In the first of a new series of articles on population growth in The Conversation, Liz Allen writes (3.7.17) that, considering all the aspects of life in Australia that are affected by population size, it's remarkable that the nation doesn't have a national policy on it.

'Australia lacks an overarching population policy or strategy. Over the years, multiple inquiries have recommended such a policy. Population policies the world over typically focus on births and migration.

'As part of post-war reconstruction, Australia adopted a 2% population growth target. Mass immigration was a defining feature, and couples were called on to populate or perish. Immigration was successful, but women were big losers in the push for births.

'The 1975 National Population Inquiry proved a significant moment in Australian demography. The inquiry found that Australia should not seek to influence population, but should anticipate and respond.

'Population policy was revisited in the 1990s with the National Population Council. Its 1994 report found no optimal population size for Australia, but again called for a responsive population policy of preparedness.

'Interest in sustainable population policy was renewed in 2010 following Kevin Rudd’s infamous endorsement of a “big Australia”. We even had a minister for population, Tony Burke, for about six months until the portfolio was expanded. Population was subsequently dropped from any ministerial title.'

Bloom and boom: how babies and migrants have contributed to Australia's population growth

As part of the same population series in The Conversation, Tom Wilson writes (4.7.17) that the latest statistics show Australia's population growth in the last decade has been significantly higher than in other developed countries.

'Population change has long been a topic of public debate in Australia, periodically escalating into controversy.

'It is inextricably linked to debates about immigration levels, labour force needs, capital city congestion and housing costs, refugee intakes, economic growth in country areas and northern Australia, the “big versus smaller” Australia debate, and environmental pressures.

'Views about the rate of population growth in Australia are numerous and mixed. At one end of the spectrum are those who are vehemently opposed to further population increases; at the other end are supporters of substantially higher population growth and a “very big” Australia.

'Logically, population debates usually quote Australia’s demographic statistics. But there is value in comparing our population growth in the international context.'


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