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No crisis despite fundamental change in Australian population

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M e d i a R e l e a s e

Under embargo until 10.30am on Thursday, 18 March 1999

A L p r o d u c t i v i t y C O M M I S S I O N

No Crisis Despite Fundamental Change in Australian Population

Crisis! What crisis? Australia is well positioned to handle the pressures of an ageing population

despite commonly held perceptions that ageing will result in a crisis according to Professor Paul

Johnson of the London School of Economics.

Professor Johnson is in Melbourne to deliver a keynote speech to a Melbourne conference

organised by the Productivity Commission and Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and

Social Research tomorrow (18 March 1999).

Professor Johnson says that public policy responses - such as the combination of a means tested

safety net and its compulsory superannuation arrangements - mean that it is better positioned to

cope with this significant change in demography than most European countries. But its policies

are not perfect. Professor Johnson describes the tax structure within the Superannuation

Guarantee as ‘bizarrely complex’. This complexity also creates a significant hurdle for consumers

when choosing between different types of superannuation arrangements

Professor Johnson will also present data which shows that while relative income of pensioner

households in Australia is low by international standards, these households appear to be asset rich

when compared with households in other countries.

Professor Peter McDonald and Rebecca Kippen both of the Australian National University

support Professor Johnson’s view that Australia faces a fundamental change in its demography.

Their paper, which examines the so'cial and demograpluc dimensions of ageing, concludes that

older people will claim a greater part in the nation’s affairs and will reject the premature

application to them of the ‘dependent’ label.


Professor McDonald and Ms Kippen argue that society’s concept of ageing will change and that

active ageing and ‘aged liberation’ movements will be part of the demographic transition.

Professor Steve Dowrick of the Australian National University will also be delivering a keynote

paper entitled Demographic change and Australian economic growth to 2020.

The conference will look in some detail at the possible public policy responses to the changes in

Australia’s demography, including the balancing of public revenue and expenditure in the long-

run, superannuation, provision of long term care and housing arrangements and other key factors.


Members of the media are invited to attend the first session of the conference (9am to 12 noon, 18 March 1999) which includes papers from keynote speakers.

Keynote speakers will be available for interview between 10am and 10.30 am or at other times by arrangement.

The conference is taking place at: Carlton Rydges Hotel Carlton Room 4th Floor 701 Swanston Street

Carlton Melbourne

Background Information: Will Hetherton 03 9289 9555

Bev Knowles 0407 335 278

Proceedings o f the conference will be published in due course.

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