Stephen Lunn and Annabel Hepworth From: The Australian July 22, 2010 12:00AM
TWO key government advisers and the nation’s leading demographer have warned that the nation’s “big Australia” debate has now entered dangerous territory and pressed the case for higher immigration to keep the economy strong.
Peter McDonald, head of the Australian Demographic and Social Research Institute, said yesterday the current political discourse linking high immigration rates to inflated house prices and congestion in the big cities risked a damaging reversion to Hansonism.
Professor McDonald was backed by former key government adviser and population economist Glenn Withers, who said the tone of the debate had “the potential for becoming dangerous”, while Infrastructure Australia head Rod Eddington said he was in favour of a “robust immigration program”.
Professor McDonald said that, “as we saw in the Hanson era, you don’t want to go down the track of bringing out the worst in Australians”.
Professor McDonald was a keynote speaker at the 2010 International Urban Design Conference in Canberra.