The debate about what constitutes a sustainable population for Australia has been long running, intermittent and often ill-informed. The recent release of population projections that estimate an additional 13 million Australians by 2050 resulted in a dichotomised debate ‘for’ and ‘against’ population growth. However, the issue of population sustainability is much more complex than this oversimplified representation suggests. Australia’s population is undergoing a demographic metamorphosis in the form of structural ageing, which is associated with many potential challenges for labour force participation and the country’s economic wellbeing. Given this, what is a sustainable population in the Australian context, and what should a strategy to ensure population sustainability look like?
This paper contextualises and reports the proceedings and recommendations of the roundtable discussion on the implementation of a sustainable population strategy, held in Canberra on 15 April 2011, by the Institute of Public Administration Australia.