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Population Growth in Australia: Views and Policy Talk for Possible Futures

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Abstract

Debates about population growth and the policies that might direct it have occurred from time to time in Australia and have always received publicity. This paper explores two facets of Australia's recent discourse about population growth. First, it identifies the major scholarly work of the last two decades that analyses the significance of population growth in Australia, this work seeking to provide an alternative to diverse popular and populist claims made in the 1990s. Second, the paper raises the particular areas of policy thinking on which this debate has drawn when seeking to support the need for population to grow more or grow less (population ageing, the need for urban [social and physical] infrastructure, and the recent discussion of the export industry of education). The paper concludes by asking why certain powerful public discourses constitute population growth as something to be feared.

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