Peter Costello

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Australia's Demographic Challenges



The Treasurer released today a discussion paper – Australia’s Demographic Challenges – to encourage community debate about our future and the need to prepare for the impact of Australia’s ageing population.

The paper identifies faster economic growth as a key priority in addressing ageing as it will provide Australia with higher incomes and better enable us to meet the costs associated with an ageing population.

Increases in labour force participation and productivity can generate faster economic growth. The discussion paper sets out three complementary policy areas in which there is potential to lift labour force participation and productivity:

  • improvements in the capacity for work, through better education and health;
  • better incentives for work; and
  • improved flexibility in the workplace.

The paper draws attention to some major issues on which community feedback is being sought. For example, is it right that very few working age people on income support are required to look for work? Is it fair to allow those with superannuation assets to retire early, run down their assets, and then rely on taxpayers to fund the major part of their retirement?

Just as many of the benefits enjoyed by Australians today are the outcomes of the sacrifices and investments of earlier generations, the prosperity of future generations depends upon the decisions we make today. Community views are an essential ingredient in the Government’s consideration of these decisions.

Australia’s Demographic Challenges provides a readable and accessible introduction to the major issues associated with an ageing population. Copies of the paper are available for download from:

Meetings will be held in each State to seek feedback from the community. Submissions are being sought by 14 May 2004.

25 February 2004

Contact: David Alexander
Treasurer’s Office
(02) 6277 7340


25 Feb 2004

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