The big debate: Australia's population

Tuesday, 16 May 2006

How can Australia increase its population without harming the environment, yet still achieve a strong economic and social balance?

That's the big issue that will be debated by four eminent scholars over the next few weeks at a public lecture series organised by the University of Adelaide at the Napier Lecture Theatre.

Professor Graeme Hugo, a Federation Fellow at the University of Adelaide, will present the first lecture at 6pm on Wednesday, May 24.

One of Australia's foremost demographers, Professor Hugo will argue that both economic and environmental factors need to be considered when looking at population policies.

"In the past, the debate has been polarised between environmental groups who want zero growth, and economists who argue for rapid growth. One can't operate to the exclusion of the other and tradeoffs have to occur," Professor Hugo argues.

"I think the best interests of the community lie somewhere in between and the debate about population growth should not be confined to a few interest groups."

Professor Tony McMichael, Director of the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health at the Australian National University (ANU), will present the second lecture on May 31. His stance is that neither Australia, nor the world, can continue populating the globe at such a rate.

"We are already weakening many life support systems," he says. "Can we break free of prevailing assumptions about population size and growth and achieve a stable, healthy and sustainable future?"

The theme "Getting Population Right"" will be presented by Professor Glen Withers from the ANU on June 7.

Professor Withers is Head of Public Policy at the ANU and has advised the Federal and State Governments in this area.

"While Australian immigration is mostly well-tailored to the national interest and to the Australian way, it still has significant flaws," Professor Withers says.

He will argue that immigration requires equally well-crafted population policies at both state and national levels if the economy, society and the environment are to be best served.

Professor Judith Sloan will present the last lecture series on June 14. In her discussion topic, "The Economic Impact of Migration and Population Growth", Professor Sloan will explore how migration and population growth affect the Australian economy.

"In particular, I will discuss how migration influences per capita incomes in Australia and how the effects differ between the states and various occupational groups," she says.

Professor Sloan is Commissioner of the Productivity Commission and Commissioner of the Australian Fair Pay Commission. She is also a member of the board of the Lowy Institute for International Policy.

All lectures will be presented at 6pm in the Napier Building at the University of Adelaide. The first two lectures on May 24 and 31 will be held in LG29 and the last two, on June 7 and 14, will be held in G04. Entrance is free and bookings are essential. Phone (08) 8303 3952 or email for bookings and enquiries.


Contact Details

Mr David Ellis
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External Relations
The University of Adelaide
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