Imagining Australia 2033

In the last event in our popular This Is Not a Drill series, we gazed into our crystal balls and puzzled through a hypothetical population explosion in Australia, 15 years in the future.

Australia's population hit 25 million this year and – if the forecasts are correct – it's heading to 38 million by 2050. Cities like Sydney and Melbourne are set to jump by up to 60% – from five to eight million. But what if that's a conservative estimate? Twenty years ago the experts said we wouldn’t get to 25 million until 2051. We’ve reached that target 33 years early!

With a sharp birth-rate rise and a continuation of Australia's now longstanding embrace of immigration, millions more will call Australia home. Our major cities will rival many Asian urban centres in size.

So – what will our hypothetical metropolis of 2033 look like? Will it be sustainable, and will it be truly global … with global problems? And who gets to decide?

This event was recorded at Melbourne's Wheeler Centre in November 2018, and also broadcast on ABC News and iView.

Ali Moore has more than 25 years experience as a journalist and broadcaster, working for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Australia's Nine Network, and for the BBC's global news network, based in Singapore. She has covered major news and current affairs events across the region, reporting from Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Indonesia, and China. She is now a freelance broadcaster and journalist and a Vice Chancellor's Fellow at the University of Melbourne, working with Asialink.

Professor Rob Adams is currently the Director City Design and Projects at the City of Melbourne and a member of the World Economic Forum Global Future Council on Cities and Urbanization. With over 46 years' experience as an Architect and Urban Designer and 35 years at the City of Melbourne, Rob has made a significant contribution to the rejuvenation of central Melbourne. His recent focus has been on how cities could be used to accommodate and mitigate rapid population growth and the onset of climate change.

Bernard Salt is one of Australia’s leading social commentators. He heads The Demographics Group which provides specialist advice on demographic, consumer and social trends for business. Prior to that Bernard founded KPMG Demographics. He is perhaps best known for identifying and tagging new tribes and social behaviours such as the ‘Seachange Shift’, the ‘Man Drought’, and the ‘Goats Cheese Curtain’.  He was also responsible for popularising smashed avocados globally. 

Lucinda Hartley is an urban designer, social entrepreneur and a leading voice on social sustainability. Lucinda is Co-Founder and Chief Innovation Officer of Neighbourlytics, which is pioneering the use of social data in cities to measure the social health of local places. Since 2017 it has collected data for over 200 neighbourhoods across Australia, Singapore and Europe. Lucinda was appointed as an advisor to the government for Fishermans Bend (Australia’s largest urban renewal precinct). 

The Hon John Brumby is former Premier of Victoria (2007–2010). He served for more than ten years as Treasurer and then Premier of Victoria, six years as leader of the Victorian Opposition, and seven years as the Federal Member for Bendigo during the Hawke Government. Since retiring from politics, he has accepted a number of roles in the business and not-for-profit sectors, including National President of the Australia China Business Council and Chairman of the Motor Trades Association of Australia (MTAA) Superannuation Fund. 

Shara Evans is a technology futurist, regarded as a leading expert on emerging technologies, artificial intelligence, robots, cyber security, digital privacy and the future of health, humanity and work. Shara focusses on the opportunities presented by emerging technologies, as well as their social and economic impact. She is a global keynote speaker, the founder and CEO of technology analyst firm Market Clarity and previously founded Telsyte, a strategic telecommunications and technology consulting group. 

Ishaan Nangia is a partner in the global management consulting firm McKinsey & Company. He specialises in infrastructure, transport, real estate, logistics and education, and has extensive experience in city and country competitiveness. Ishaan works with government, corporate and community sector clients across Australia and the Asia-Pacific region. He spent a decade based in London and has worked as a lawyer in Japan.

To learn more about community creation in cities, read Lucinda Hartley's Lovability vs. Liveability: What Big Data Tells us About Our Neighbourhoods, published in Pursuit.

View all four in the This is Not a Drill series on Youtube