Governments meet on population policy


State, territory and federal treasurers met in Canberra last week to discuss how better to plan for the country’s changing population.

The first meeting of the Treasurers' Forum on Population was called to develop a national population and planning framework, which will now be considered by the Council of Australian Government later this year.

The forum also established two working groups on Regional Analysis, and Data Forecasting which will consider issues of population growth, projections and skills requirements.

“This will provide an opportunity for all levels of government to improve the way we work together and ensure that Australia can continue to enjoy the benefits of population growth while addressing the challenges it raises,” Minister for Cities, Urban Infrastructure and Population Alan Tudge said.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said he was pleased with the "very constructive" result.

"Population demographics are destiny and they have a major impact on how treasurers and governments manage the economy," he said after the meeting.

Mr Frydenberg noted earlier that two-thirds of new immigrants are going to Australia's capital cities, particularly Sydney, Melbourne and in southeast Queensland.

"This is creating pressures on infrastructure, not only on our roads but also on our public transport, creating pressures on health, on education and other essential services," he said.

Dealing with the issue will require a joint effort from the Commonwealth, the states and the territories, he said.

However, Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas said the group had "failed" to reach agreement on a national framework due to disputes on infrastructure funding.

"The minority Morrison government must fairly fund Victorian infrastructure if any progress is to be made," the Labor MP said in a statement.

"If the Commonwealth's infrastructure investment was distributed based on population share, Victoria would receive an additional $4.9 billion extra over the budget and forward estimates period, according to the latest projections."

Australia has the fifth-fastest rate of population growth in the OECD and hit the 25-million mark two decades earlier than expected.

The nation's permanent migration number is capped at 190,000 people each year but has only reached about 160,000 over the past few years.

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