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1.Investigate previous attempts to define the optimal population, and ideal growth rate there of, in Australia.

2.Compare these with policy measures enacted in other countries and assess the desirability of their application in Australia.

3.Assess the sustainability implications of an increasing population from the perspective of one of the following key issues: demand for water, demand for energy, traffic congestion, or demand for higher education

Population Policy Definitions

Population policy can be defined as purposely constructed programs or institutional arrangements with the help of which governments influence demographic change either directly or indirectly. Australia lacks a population policy or strategy despite numerous suggestions to the effect. The focus of the population policies across the globe is mainly on births and migrations. A target population rate of 2% per annum was adopted by Australia as a part of post- World War II reconstruction.  The defining feature of political landscape was mass migration along with little appreciation given to IT, engineering and environmental sustainability implications of the increasing population. The forecasts of the federal government advisory body provide that the population of Australia will increase by 11.8 million people by the year 2046 (The New Daily, 2018). The reason behind the non- existence of the population policy is that the government which fears the reaction of the public. This report is focused on the investigation relating to the previous attempts for defining optimal population and ideal growth rate in Australia. Furthermore, it is compared with the policy measures enacted in other countries along with the assessment of the desirability of their implementation in Australia. Also, the sustainability implication of the increasing population has been assessed from the perspective of demand of water.

The 1975 National Population Inquiry is considered to be an important moment in the demography of Australia. The results of the inquiry provided that Australia should respond and anticipate rather than seeking to influence the population. In the 1990s, the population policy was revisited with the National Population Council. However, the report from the year 1994 highlighted no optimal population size for Australia and again suggested for a responsive population policy of preparedness. Furthermore, in the year 2010, the renewal of interest in sustainable population policy took place following the infamous endorsement of a “big Australia” by Kevin Rudd. Till the expansion of portfolio, Australia even had a minister for population for a period of six months (Juma, Wang & Li, 2014).   

In the year 2011, the release of A Sustainable Population Strategy for Australia took place after an exhaustive inquiry.  The option of population limits was altogether removed by this strategy. Irrespective of the recommendations and inquiries for the adoption of population policy, the resistance of government played a major role in this regard. Concerns regarding coercions and difficulties in gaining political support can be regarded as the factors which led towards unsuccessful attempts at population policy. There is no requirement for the national policy to be coercive. However, this becomes necessary in cases like that of China and India. The national policy can be constituted by way of framing the series of targets along with connected policy domains with an oversight. The present policy landscape is also disjoined (Coale & Hoover, 2015).

Background and History of Population Policy in Australia

The aging of the Australian population defines the biggest stress of the nation which is the less number of taxpayers. The total dependency ratio related to age, of people whose age is under or above the working age in comparison with the working- age population was estimated to be 52 per 100 people in the year 2016 (Wilson, 2015). The aged- dependency ratio of the people having the age 65 or above was lower than the child- dependency rate which taken into account the data of 0- 14 year old children. However, there has been a steady decline in the rate of people having the age less than 15 due to the increase in the dependency burden of the population aged 65 and above. The government budgets and the economy are facing immense pressure due to this increase in people older than the working age. Substantial amount is being spent by the government on young people and highest per person is being spent on people having the age of 65 and above (Thyberg & Tonjes, 2016).

Young people will be able to afford a better lifestyle if robust workforce contributes to income tax and services while also sustaining the public spending required for people above the age of 65 years who have contributed to the nation over their lives. Australia’s population is no longer driven by the natural increase as a result of increasing deaths and low birth rates. Net overseas migration constitutes over half (54 %) of the population growth of Australia (Chaloupka & Musick, 2017).


Figure 1 Components of Population Change in Australia

(Source: The Conversation, 2017)

The United Nations Survey for the year 2013 highlighted the concerns of the Australian government regarding the population ageing and their desire for increasing the “too low” birth rate of Australia. The Australian Government is, however, satisfied with the net overseas migration level of Australia. The survey further highlighted the preference given to migration away from the cities. Tasmania has recently adopted a population strategy and the Population strategy of Australia has been put in place since the year 2004. Growth is the major focus of the strategies of these states for the purpose of curbing the economic downturn (Hugo, 2014).

A transparent, earnest and renewed population conversation is required. The population policy should be adopted by Australia by considering the way in which it can make opportunities out of the demographic challenges taking place in Australia. Australia has the capability of becoming a global leader in terms of research and development and innovation markets. An interesting market opening can be grabbed with the help of its ageing population, however, efforts need to be made for the formulation of effective strategies (Uddin, Alam & Gow, 2016). If this factor is not carefully considered, Australia will only play the role of a bystander in the competitive market across the globe. The portfolios are required to necessarily have policy connectedness. This will include housing, health, skills and training, education, infrastructure, employment, water and energy, regional development, migrant settlement and environment (The Conversation, 2017). 

Sustainability Implications of Increasing Population

More effective investment is required to be made by Australia in young people who will play the role of their future workforce along with the economic lifeblood. The pressures of having children can be eased if the workplace considers gender equality and become family friendly. Australia will also have a great push if it establishes a ministerial portfolio which performs the function of overseeing the population strategy (McDonald, 2017).

China, as a part of its population policy, has adopted one- child policy which assisted the Chinese government in preventing 400 million births starting from the year 1969. The comparison of China is made with different countries which have similar socio- economic development such as Iran and Thailand along with some of the states of India i.e. Tamil Nadu and Kerala which are capable of achieving similar declines of fertility without making the use of one- child policy. The policy was controversial outside China but was supported by Chinse people in a survey conducted in the year 2008. In October 2015, the population planning policy of China changed from one- child policy to two- child policy (Koslowski, 2014).

The major increase in the population of Australia is not due to the reason of their birth in that place but it is due to the reason of migration. However, further the birth rates are expected to increase due to increase in population due to migration. Therefore, one- child policy can be put in place so that birth rates are in control and other respective measures can be taken for controlling migration in Australia (Akbari & MacDonald, 2014).   

Other countries are also adopting the policy of reducing the migration flow with the help of migration policies by putting defined immigration quotas. United Kingdom makes the use of migration caps so that they can control their volume of inflows. This will play a major role in the context of Australia as majority of its population consists of the migrants (Adamson, Cortis, Brennan & Charlesworth, 2017). The Economic Commission of West African States or the European Union are increasingly favoring the immigration of citizens of free- mobility regimes. Internal composition of flows is targeted by various other policies which encourages or discourages the immigration or the settlement of specific migrant’s categories such as family migrants, asylum seekers, business migrants, low and high skilled labor migrants and students (Gregory, 2015). In Netherlands, the leader of the anti- immigration political party offered certain restrictions on the migration of family from the countries Turkey and Morocco as a measure for reducing the Muslim immigration whereas it was used as a measure for decreasing low- skilled immigration by mainstream political parties. United States also favors immigration due to the fact that migrants can also be witnessed as the new constituencies. The existence of such competing interests can be noticed within and across political parties, bureaucracies and governments (Hollifield, Martin & Orrenius, 2014). Ministries of social affairs, economic affairs, foreign affairs, justice and international development are also involved in the constant tug- of war in attempting to effectively influence the outcomes of migration policy (Carmon, 2016).

Previous Attempts to Define Optimal Population Size and Growth Rate in Australia

The assessment of the migration policy adopted by these countries provides that it will offer immense benefit to Australia. As discussed earlier, the majority of the population of Australia consists of the migrated people from other countries for business, studies or employment purposes. However, Australia’s Migration Program has been put in place years back for controlling the immigration and emigration (Wright, 2017). The focus of this program needs to be changed with the passage of time in order to control the rapidly increasing population of Australia.  Migration caps can be put for the purpose of controlling the volume of inflows. This will be helpful in controlling the immigration levels. The skilled component of the Migration Program should be more emphasized which includes employer nomination, distinguished talent, business skills migration and general skilled talent. When the migration policies will be effectively put in place, it will have a significant impact on the behavior of the target population (probable migrants) in the defined direction (Czaika & De Haas, 2013).

Sustainability can be defined as the process in which the direction of investments, institutional change, resources exploitation and the orientation of technological development are in harmony and enhance both future and current capability of meeting the needs and aspirations of the humans (Carley & Christie, 2017). The needs of the future generation can be met only when enough is left for them by the present generation after fulfillment of their needs. Water is finite, essential and increasingly scarce resource on the earth.  Water is considered to be the one and only resources which poses a serious limitation to the growth of human population and their appetites. The supply of fresh water on the planet is fixed and there is no substitute of water which has the same life- giving qualities (Mancosu, Snyder, Kyriakakis & Spano, 2015).

The scarcity of water is a growing problem. Although the entire earth is covered with water but only a small percentage of such water is fresh which can be used for the purpose of drinking.  In the past few years, various regions of Australia have suffered from water crisis as a result of climate changes such as shortages of rainfall. However, Australia is also facing significant growth in the population which has made the problem even worse. It is often noticed that the human numbers are rapidly growing in places where there is scarcity of water (Postel, 2014). The Water and Development report of the World Bank provides that the water problems become more complicated when there is rapid growth in population. The problems are also difficult to be resolved. Surface water supplies are often lacked by the water stressed countries due to which they have to resort to a number of practices so that the demand of water can be met appropriately for the present generation. Over pumping of the underground aquifers results in drawing down of the wells in a faster speed than the speed of its replenishment. As a consequence, ground water levels have significantly dropped in various places (Liyanage & Yamada, 2017). 

Comparison with Policy Measures in Other Countries

The growth in population also demands water for a number of other purposes as well. Access to clean drinking water, adequate sanitation is lacked by such a large number of people due to which they often die as a result of preventable water- related diseases. If the population will continue increase at the same pace then Australia may even fail to provide basic services such as water for drinking and sanitation to the new arrivals as the same will be consumed by the present generation (Gosling & Arnell, 2016). Therefore, there is serious requirement of the population policy such that the increasing population can be controlled.

When a proper population policy will be put in place, Australia will be benefitted in terms of lower dependency ratios along with the simultaneous reduction  in the requirement for catering for the ever- increasing population that demands a number of social services such as health services, education and jobs (Chen, Shi, Sivakumar & Peart, 2016).


Therefore, it can be concluded that population policy is the purposely constructed programs or institutional arrangements with the help of demographic change can be easily influenced by the government. Currently, Australia does not have a population policy. The main focus of the population policy across the globe is on the migrations and births. The forecasts of the federal government advisory body provide that the population of Australia will increase by 11.8 million people by the year 2046. Australia is suggested to have a population policy so that it can have an effective control on the ever- increasing population. Previously, some attempts have been made by Australia for the purpose of defining the optimal population and the ideal growth rate. However, the attempts were unsuccessful and no conclusions can be derived from such attempts. Net overseas migration constitutes over half (54 %) of the population growth of Australia. This suggested that Australia should have a proper Migration Program for controlling the increasing number of immigrants. The population growth is also not good from the perspective of demand for water. Water is finite, essential and increasingly scarce resource on the earth. The growth in population also demands increased quantity of water for drinking, sanitation, etc. Therefore, Australia is recommended to adopt a proper population policy with the help of which it can control the dependency ratios and can effectively cater to the increasing population by offering health services, education and jobs. 

Assessment of Desirability of Implementing Policy Measures in Australia


Adamson, E., Cortis, N., Brennan, D. and Charlesworth, S., 2017. Social care and migration policy in Australia: Emerging intersections?. Australian Journal of Social Issues, 52(1), pp.78-94.

Akbari, A.H. and MacDonald, M., 2014. Immigration policy in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States: An overview of recent trends. International Migration Review, 48(3), pp.801-822.

Carley, M. and Christie, I., 2017. Managing sustainable development. Routledge.

Carmon, N. 2016. Immigration and integration in post-industrial societies: Theoretical analysis and policy-related research. Springer.

Chaloupka, M.Y. and Musick, J.A., 2017. Age, growth, and population dynamics. In The Biology of Sea Turtles, 1, pp. 247-290.

Chen, J., Shi, H., Sivakumar, B. and Peart, M.R., 2016. Population, water, food, energy and dams. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 56, pp.18-28.

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Gosling, S.N. and Arnell, N.W., 2016. A global assessment of the impact of climate change on water scarcity. Climatic Change, 134(3), pp.371-385.

Gregory, R.G., 2015. The two-step Australian immigration policy and its impact on immigrant employment outcomes. In Handbook of the Economics of International Migration 1, pp. 1421-1443.

Hollifield, J., Martin, P.L. and Orrenius, P. eds., 2014. Controlling immigration: A global perspective. Stanford University Press.

Hugo, G., 2014. Change and continuity in Australian international migration policy. International Migration Review, 48(3), pp.868-890.

Juma, D.W., Wang, H. and Li, F., 2014. Impacts of population growth and economic development on water quality of a lake: case study of Lake Victoria Kenya water. Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 21(8), pp.5737-5746.

Koslowski, R., 2014. Selective migration policy models and changing realities of implementation. International Migration, 52(3), pp.26-39.

Liyanage, C.P. and Yamada, K., 2017. Impact of Population Growth on the Water Quality of Natural Water Bodies. Sustainability, 9(8), p.1405.

Mancosu, N., Snyder, R.L., Kyriakakis, G. and Spano, D., 2015. Water scarcity and future challenges for food production. Water, 7(3), pp.975-992.

McDonald, P., 2017. International migration and employment growth in Australia, 2011–2016. Australian Population Studies, 1(1), pp.3-12.

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Thyberg, K.L. and Tonjes, D.J., 2016. Drivers of food waste and their implications for sustainable policy development. Resources, Conservation and Recycling, 106, pp.110-123.

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