Australia's Population Challenge: What Really Counts

Presented by the Whitlam Institute and the UWS Urban Research Centre.


Mere mention of the word 'population' evokes all sorts of passions and responses, fears and uncertainties. In a one-off forum, on March 29, 2012, the Whitlam Institute and the UWS Urban Research Centre brought together three leading thinkers to unpack the issues, present the data and offer the public an opportunity to ask questions of the experts.

Professor Glenn Withers AOProfessor Pauline McGuirkAssociate Professor Kevin McCracken









Glenn Whithers AO

Professor of Public Policy in the Crawford School at the Australian National University


Pauine McGuirk

Professor of Human Geography and Director of the Centre for Urban and Regional Studies at the University of Newcastle


Kevin McCracken

Asssociate Professor with the Department of Environment and Geography - Human Geography, Macquarie University 


Chair: Professor Phillip O'Neill

Director, UWS Urban Research Centre



Professor Glenn Withers AO

Glenn Withers AO is Professor of Public Policy in the Crawford School. He is a Monash and Harvard graduate and has held academic posts in Australia and overseas including at Harvard and Cambridge. He teaches policy economics subjects and has published a significant number of books and academic papers. He has worked in and for government, including as chair of various Australian government bodies such as the National Population Council and the Economic Planning Advisory Commission, and he has chaired public inquiries regarding population issues, immigration, and infrastructure financing and was a member of the Faulkner inquiry into child care. He has also been an adviser to private sector and community sector organisations in Australia and overseas, ranging from the North West Shelf Consortium and the Business Council of Australia to the OECD and UNDP. Professor Withers was awarded an Order of Australia for services to applied economics, including for design of the Australian immigration points system.



Professor Pauline McGuirk

Pauline McGuirk is Professor of Human Geography and Director of the Centre for Urban and Regional Studies at the University of Newcastle. Her research interests are in urban political geography, specialising in urban governance, its geographies and its changing forms. Her recent work has involved critical investigations of transformations in Sydneyfs governance as it has emerged as a global cityregion, and on new forms of governance associated with the emergence of residential masterplanned estates. In new research, she is investigating the importance of urban actorsand urban-based initiatives in the governance of carbon. With Neil Argent (UNE) she has also published workrecently on the implications of Australian projected population growth for Australia's urban and regional settlements. Pauline had made significant national and regional policy contributions, both through collaborative work with state government agencies, and through participation in the Urban 45 initiative. She has been a visiting fellow at the University of Dublin (Trinity College), University of Glasgow, Durham University, Bristol University and University of British Columbia. She is a fellow of the Institute of Australian Geographers and the Geographical Society of New South Wales.


Associate Professor Kevin McCracken

Kevin McCracken is a human geographer and population specialist. He was most recently Dean of Environmental and Life Sciences at Macquarie University and is now an Honorary Research Fellow at Macquarie and Honorary Professor at Lingnan University, Hong Kong. Professor McCrackenfs research interests in recent years have centered on community needs assessment, relationships between the social environment and health, spatio]temporal changes in disease patterns, population ageing and the health of the elderly. His other main area of writing has been on various aspects of teaching population studies/human geography at secondary and tertiary levels. Over the past decade he has undertaken consultancy work for local and state government and private enterprise. He has also been a regular contributor to Australian and New Zealand newspapers on population and health issues.