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64 pct Australian population rise expected by 2050

64 pct Australian population rise expected by 2050

Australia's population is projected to grow by more than half to 36 million by mid-century _ mainly through immigration, a government report said Monday.
The additional 14 million people that Australia anticipates adding to its current population of 22 million by 2050 is cited in a report aiming to help lawmakers plan for the future challenges of an aging population, escalating health costs and urban overcrowding.
In releasing the report, Treasurer Wayne Swan said that while a population of 36 million was not a target, such population growth could help pay for upcoming generations of retirees. The number of Australians over the retirement age of 65 is expected to double by 2050, while its GDP is expected to slow to an annual average of 2.7 percent by then. GDP has averaged 3.3 percent over the last 40 years.
"To some extent, the higher population growth would help us manage the challenges of an aging population," Swan told the National Press Club.
"But there's no doubt rising population will place pressures on us as well," he added, citing greater demands on infrastructure and the environment that more people would impose.
Australia has traditionally welcomed immigrants since British colonists arrived in 1788. The number of settlers coming from Asia has more than doubled in the past decade and accounted for half of Australia's new arrivals last year.
While Australia remains relatively sparsely populated, many question how many people can sustainably inhabit the world's driest continent after Antarctica.
Government lawmaker Kelvin Thomson was applauded by environmentalists when he called for immigration levels to be slashed in an effort to cap Australia's population at 26 million.
"Until we address the issue of population, we are fighting global warming with at least one arm tied behind our back," he told Parliament in November.