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ACT Chamber of Commerce - at it again..

The ABC reported last week that the irrepressible Chris Peters of the ACT Chamber of Commerce and Industry had rejected calls for a cap on Canberra's population.

Mr Peters is reported to have said:
"We have the fastest ageing population in Australia and unless we grow our population with younger people ... unless we have an increase in population, there'll be no people left to provide medical, health or any services we need,"

According to Mr Peters, Canberrans age faster than other Australians - apparently in contravention of the accepted laws of human biology and space/time. But I think I get what he's trying to say.

His message is that we have a significant number of people approaching retirement age; and that we should all be fearful about who'll care for us in our old age. Is he right, though?

My own impression of Canberra is that a lot of public servants come here at a later stage of their careers. Having served in regional areas with Centrelink, Defence, border security agencies and the like at the start of their careers, many accept more senior administrative positions based in Canberra when they're into their 40's. This would tend to skew the age distribution of Canberrans upwards.

But the other thing I've noticed is how a lot of retirees can't stand the cold. Many retire away from Canberra, either to the NSW South Coast or further north. So perhaps the flow out of Canberra at retirement goes some way to balancing the flow in when middle management public servants get transferred here?

Well anyway.. Mr Peters prediction of Canberra filling up with doddering OAP's incapable of fending for themselves looks vulnerable to begin with. But what of his proposed solution?

Grow the population. With young people only, presumably. After all - there's no point just bringing in a cartload of oldies. They'd just add to the problem, wouldn't they? Even people in their middle age are of limited value since they'll age too and soon become part of the problem. In fact, the only way to keep ahead of the problem in the longer term is to progressively grow the population - with young people - at an ever increasing rate to service the growing numbers of older residents encouraged to come here in previous years! Sound sustainable? Who cares?!? Think of the economic growth in the short term.

No. What we really need in Canberra is exactly the type of migrant that succesive Federal Governments pine for - the sort that never ages. Peter Pan and Wendy.

Stand by for Chris Peters next media release where he calls on the Rudd government to target skilled migrants from Neverland, with special categories of 457 visas for the Lost Boys.

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Comments

Chris Peters might be happier himself, relocating to a third world country with a very high ratio of young to old. Perhaps the ACT Branch of Sustainable Population Australia could start a fund to pay for his passage to Africa or the Middle East or South America. Chris Peters is no spring chicken himself and his departure would therefore decrease the risk of the scenario he fears will befall Canberra.

Sheila Newman, population sociologist
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