Australia’s Population Challenge (August Monthly Lunch)

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The August monthly lunch was very well attended and speaker Jeremy Reynolds, former Victorian Demographer, did not disappoint a capacity audience.

Jeremy traced the history of Australia’s, and in particular Victoria’s, population growth since European settlement. The number of new arrivals increased at different rates, reflecting the events of the time – more settlers arrived during the gold rushes, in boom times and so on.

He pointed out that over time the pattern of settlement has been consistent. More people live in the three largest cities on the east coast. The reasons are well understood, including life style preferences and especially employment opportunities.

The audience was particularly interested in Jeremy’s analysis of current immigration statistics and his explanation as to why it is difficult for any government, regardless of its intentions, to reduce the number of new arrivals in any substantial way.

He also explained the processes within government, in particular state governments who have responsibility for supplying services like health and education, to use population growth forecasts in planning. There were predictable questions and comments from those present on the need for improved forward planning if numbers continue to grow. Housing and transport issues were highlighted.

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