The author has been described by News Ltd as an "iconoclast", "Svengali", a pollie's "economist muse", and "pungently accurate". Fairfax says he is a "Renaissance man" and "one of Australia’s most respected analysts." Stephen Koukoulas concludes that he is "85% right", and "would make a great Opposition leader." Terry McCrann claims the author thinks "‘nuance’ is a trendy village in the south of France", but can be "scintillating" when he thinks "clearly". The ACTU reckons he’s "an enigma wrapped in a Bloomberg terminal, wrapped in some apparently well-honed abs."

Monday, April 5, 2010

53 million by 2048??

Well, I have not actually heard anyone claim that just yet...But all credit to Bernard Keane and Sophie Black at Crikey for driving the population agenda well ahead of the broadsheets (read Bernard's latest thoughts on the subject at The Stump). It is becoming increasingly obvious that online content, such as blogs like this and Core Economics, and content providers like Business Spectator and Crikey, are well ahead of newspapers in print or electronic iteration in setting the ideas agenda. There are, of course, frequent exceptions to this, but next generation media are much, much more influential than the print editors would have you believe (note to Chris Mitchell)...

So here is Bob Carr in Crikey last week putting my arguments of the day prior to the sword. And then we have Glen Milne in The Oz offering some run-of-the-mill political analysis. I am not sure I agree with Milno on this. More impressive is the Oz's Editorial, which argues my lines. And the nation's new Population Minister looks to be doing an reasonable job pushing the big country vision. It is not, therefore, clear that the PM has done a 180 degree turn on this matter, as some have suggested.

Notwithstanding the boat people rhetoric, I strongly suspect that the smart guys in the Opposition like Scott Morrison are as open-minded as the other side about sitting down and working our what our real population levels should be.

So here's one quick idea for Tony Burke. First, I think we need a new set of projections. Second, rather than hitching yourself to much higher numbers (eg, 40 million) and suffering the political flow-back risk, I would recommend that Burke release a "distribution" of possible outcomes that we need to plan ahead for. Make the upper bound where you privately want to land. But insure away the risk associated with this level by supplying a range of lower estimates such that you can just as easily point to them for political protection.