Australians urged to have more babies

Drawing inspiration from Costello's exhortation in the 2004 budget for Australians to "have one for mum, one for dad, and one for the country," Chalmers expressed support for boosting childbirth rates.

Treasurer Jim Chalmers, discussing cost of living relief, housing ambitions and the Future Made in Australia on the Inside Politics podcast, has urged Australians to have more babies.

Image: Treasurer Jim Chalmers (Source: Website)

Chalmers stated in an interview with The Morning Edition podcast:

“It would be better if birth rates were higher. I think people are leaving it later. And sometimes that means you get timed out. But there are a whole range of reasons people’s preferences are changing. It’s expensive to raise kids.”

In anticipation of the forthcoming federal budget unveiling new strategies to address housing needs for Australia’s burgeoning population and projecting a decline in immigration, Chalmers has advocated for increased childbirth rates.

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The federal government aims to offer support to individuals desiring to start families, although Chalmers has ruled out implementing a baby bonus akin to former Treasurer Peter Costello’s approach.

These remarks emerge as the government prepares to disclose budget projections indicating a significant decrease in net migration, heightening discussions about population growth strategies independent of migration reliance.

Drawing inspiration from Costello’s exhortation in the 2004 budget for Australians to “have one for mum, one for dad, and one for the country,” Chalmers expressed support for boosting childbirth rates.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese; Image Source: Twiter @ALBO
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese; Image Source: Twiter @ALBO

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has convened a national cabinet meeting scheduled for Friday, to delve into housing policy discussions via video conference ahead of the budget announcement, prompting speculation regarding potential new measures and funding agreements.

“I don’t want to pre-empt it, but I am prepared to say that we want to work with the states and territories to build more homes. You think about the pressures on rent, how hard it is for people to get into the housing market – we’ve got a responsibility here, and we will meet it.”

Australia’s population surged by 2.5% to 26.8 million over the past year, primarily fueled by increased immigration. However, natural population growth, calculated as births minus deaths, is declining. It presently stands 14% lower than in 2019, with the fertility rate plummeting nearly 20% since the 2008 global financial crisis.

A study published in The Lancet in March forecasts a further decline in Australia’s fertility rate—from approximately 1.63 to 1.45 by 2050 and to 1.32 by 2100—far below the replacement fertility rate of 2.1.

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While acknowledging the erstwhile baby bonus under the Howard-Costello government, Chalmers emphasized the government’s focus on implementing more effective policies that afford individuals greater flexibility in family planning.

“All of these things are about trying to make it easier for people to have more kids if they want to, and to work more if they want to after they’ve had their kids. People have got different preferences and we want to make it easier for them to make choices in their own interests.”

Initiatives such as expanded childcare services and superannuation benefits for paid parental leave are geared towards supporting parents.

Chalmers, who is on track to deliver a second successive surplus, has already signalled there will be deficits from 2024-25. It is understood that next week’s budget is set to improve the economic forecast, forecasting a one percent growth in business investment for the upcoming financial year, following a substantial 5.25 percent increase in 2023-24. Projections indicate that by 2025-26, business investment could soar to $305.7 billion, indicating a positive trajectory for economic development.

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