Commonwealth Treasury creates Centre for Population

A new Centre for Population has been created within the Commonwealth Department of Treasury to help all levels of government better understand population changes in cities, towns, regions, states and territories.

The Centre was established on 1 July with a budget of $23.4 million to provide detailed advice and analysis on numerous population topics. It will be headed by Victoria Anderson, who will begin the role in August.

The new unit is part of the Federal Government’s population plan which took effect on 1 July.

The plan includes cutting the permanent migration rate by a cumulative 120,000 places over four years to 160,000 a year, and creating incentives for permanent migrants and international students to live outside Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

The new Centre follows the last Council of Australian Governments meeting in December 2018 of federal, state and territory leaders and ALGA’s President David O’Loughlin, who agreed to put population on the agenda of a future COAG gathering.

“We agreed to work towards the establishment of a population management national framework, which would seek greater sharing of information to inform annual migration programs, infrastructure programs, investment in services, in hospitals and schools, greater data sharing, better identification of skills needs and across the country,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said after the talks.

“And all of that is designed to protect the quality of life that Australians have, to grow our economy and ensure we get the growth where we need to have that growth.

“In some states that is an absolute priority, but in our larger cities we are able to better manage that growth, deal with congestion issues, and to protect the quality of life of residents who live in those cities as well.”

That agreement led to the creation of the Treasurer’s Forum on Population – whose participants included ALGA’s President – which met in February 2019 to consider different jurisdictions’ views on migration and ways to collaborate on population planning and data sharing.

“As a first step, the forum agreed to immediately establish two working groups on Regional Analysis, and Data and Forecasting,” Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said after the meeting.

“These working groups will consider issues including greater data sharing, 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.”