Sabra Lane: Australia's population will reach 25 million tonight. Is it time the government came up with a formal population policy?
Michael McCormack: Well those discussions have taken place too, and I'm just pleased that in the infrastructure space we've got a ten year tax plan as far as rolling out the right taxation ends we have. As I said as infrastructure and transport minister an investment pipeline there for a decade long to help ease the congestion to make sure we build the infrastructure our nation needs both through tax and infrastructure we're making sure that we've got that long term vision over the next decade to make sure that we're well placed to cope with 25 million tonight and who knows how many it will be in ten years time.
Sabra Lane: What number would you be comfortable with.
Michael McCormack: Well that's a difficult question. Australia needs more population. Many of our regions are crying out for more people to fill the jobs to make sure we take advantage of those trade opportunities that the Liberals and Nationals have created.
Apart from the mangled first answer where clearly the DPM got confused once he started talking about ten year plans between tax (irrelevant to the question) and infrastructure.
But here's the real question - how can he be confidant he's got a good ten year infrastructure plan if he thinks that the population number is a matter of "who knows how many." Of course, Peter Costello figured out that we better care about demographics and instituted the Intergenerational Reports.
The first of those reports (2002) forecast total population by 2022 of only 23.2 million, the second (2007) forecast a faster growth rate but still only 23.2 by 2017. Total population is actually 6% higher than forecast though the share of working age people is as forecast at 66% (actually a tiny bit higher than forecast. Without doing a lot of analysis the biggest source of that difference is temporary migration visas.
And just in case the DPM and Infrastructure Minister is wondering the 2015 IGR forecasts population for 2025 of 28 million and 2035 of 32 million - that growth of 0.4 million a year would make the 2028 forecast 29.2 million. We just don't know if he is 'comfortable' with the number since he doesn't seem to know it.
Who in goodness name briefed this man before he went on radio?
Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans JWL