Burke announces population panels

The Minister for Sustainable Population Tony Burke has announced the membership of the three panels to advise him on sustainable population issues.

The panels are the first step in establishing a national dialogue on the Federal Government's Sustainable Population Strategy.

They will be: a Demographic change and Liveability Panel, a Productivity and Prosperity Panel and a Sustainable Development Panel.

"This is the nation's first ever population strategy and we need to get the balance right," Mr Burke said.

"The Gillard Government is committed to a sustainable population for Australia where hard working families can enjoy a good life, business can find the workers they need, and our natural environment is preserved.

"The strategy will deal with a number of concerns that have been raised with me over the past few months including transport congestion, infrastructure, employment and the environment.

"We need to get beyond just seeing this as debate on immigration." Mr Burke said.

Professor Graeme Hugo will chair the Demographic change and Liveability Panel. Members will include Jane-Frances Kelly, Professor Daniela Stehlik, Councillor Pam Parker, Ruth Spielman, Marion Thompson, Waleed Aly, John Taylor, Everald Compton, and Councillor Graeme Sawyer.

Professor Hugo said: "Australia stands at a turning point in its demographic development and it is crucial that a vision of our future population is developed which takes full account of the best scientific and policy thinking and knowledge but which is also inclusive of the wishes and opinions of all Australians."

Heather Ridout will chair the Productivity and Prosperity Panel, its members will include David Crombie, Dr. Barry Hughes, Paul Low, Mark Hunter, Alison Watt, Paul Howes, and Nicole Lockwood.

Ms Ridout said: "I am very much looking forward to chairing the Productivity and Prosperity group and being part of the broader discussion about our population outlook and all that entails. We will be looking closely at how to best manage our continuing population growth and how we can build confidence about the considerable social and economic benefits that can stem from that growth."

The Hon Bob Carr will chair the Sustainable Development Panel, its members will include Susan Close, John Sutton, Bill Forrest, Sam Mostyn, Associate Professor Katharine Betts, Councillor Bob Abbot, and Don Henry.

"Australians are able to have a mature debate about population, they know this continent of ours has suffered from poor approaches to development and understand issues of land degradation and water security, " Mr Carr said. "For the first time an Australian Government is prepared to feed issues of sustainability into a discussion about population.

The advice received from the three panels will form the basis of a public issues paper to be released later this year.

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