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Melbourne Population Summit

Like the Hawke government Tax Summit in 1986, Monday's Population conference in Melbourne drew politicians with significant influence and Australia's experts in the field of demography without a clear consensus being reached on planning for the future levels of population.

Professor Peter McDonald of ANU highlighted the unalterable future dimensions of the Australian population. He said that 50 years from now it will be between 25 and 30 million regardless of what changes in birth levels or immigration occur. He described the possibility of it reaching as high as 50 million as unrealistic as this would require immigration rates of about 460,000pa which he believes to be way beyond the bounds of economic, political and social acceptability. These views by Professor McDonald suggest that there is already a clear set of parameters for governments to prepare for at least 50% more people in Australia's major cities and planning for environment management and transport without having to set a specific population target.

Financial Demographics will analyse the contributions to the summit and produce a Tends issue on the topic at some future date. The convenor of the Summit was Steve Vizard and one of the key people behind its organisation was reported to be Mr Bert Dennis, a Melbourne property developer and president of the Australian Population Institute. Contributors to the Summit discussions included the following:

Professor Peter McDonald, Emeritus Professor Dr Jack Caldwell, Professor Graeme Hugo, Dr Bob Birrell, Mr Jerry Ellis, Mr Richard Pratt, Professor Ross Garnaut, Immigration Minister Phillip Ruddock, NSW Premier Mr Bob Carr, Former Prime Minister Mr Bob Hawke, Federal Opposition Leader Mr Simon Crean, Victorian Premier Mr Steve Bracks, Professor Allan Fels of the ACCC, Mr Richard Pratt, Former Prime Minister Mr Malcolm Fraser, ACTU President Ms Sharan Burrow, Mr Michael Krockenberger of the ACF.

Posted Tuesday, 26 February 2002

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