Demography is destiny: Tassie plan to boost population

Tasmania has hatched a plan to stop young people moving to the mainland and recruit more migrants from interstate and abroad to combat its ageing population.

In his first State of the State address since the May election, Premier Jeremy Rockliff presented his government's latest population policy.

The premier ruminated on the phrase "demography is destiny", revealing the median age of Tasmania's population had shot up from 26 in 1971 to 42 - four years older than the national average.

"We have the oldest median age in the nation," Mr Rockliff told the Committee for Economic Development of Australia on Wednesday.

"This has a significant impact on demand for services, and a significant impact on our productivity.

"There is no doubt we must strengthen our focus on increasing the retention and attraction of younger residents."

Tasmanian Premier Jeremy Rockliff
Jeremy Rockliff is worried about Tasmania's ageing population. (Rob Blakers/AAP PHOTOS)

In 2015, the Tasmanian government set a target to grow its population to 650,000 by 2050 and reached a 2030 goal of 570,000 in 2022 - eight years ahead of schedule.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics estimated the state's population was 574,705 at the end of 2023, with about 21 per cent aged 65 and older.

Tasmania's population is forecast to hit 641,045 by June 2053 but could rise as high as 714,020 or drop to as low as 542,023, based on varying state treasury projections.

"Over time we will aim for an increased proportion of the population being in the 16-64 years age range and a stable or increasing proportion being in the 0-16 years age range," the document reads.

"We want to see more working-age members of the community on a consistent basis, especially over the period when demand for age-related services remains relatively high."

Under a range of population initiatives, the government plans to audit and release surplus public land for early-childhood and education care services, stimulate housing supply through a $35 million program and provide short-term interest-free loans up to $1 million for medium-density units and apartments.

It's also offering allowances for nurses and midwives to move to Tasmania, rural and regional incentive packages for GPs and a $1 million youth arts grant funding program.

"I know firsthand the pressure on young people to leave our state, even if they don't want to," Mr Rockliff said.

The premier concluded Tasmania needed to provide an environment in which young people knew they could change the state, if they finished school or gained a trade qualification and worked hard.

The Spirit of Tasmania
It's hoped financial incentives will attract young people from the mainland and overseas. (Julian Smith/AAP PHOTOS)

"We want young people to change this place with their passion, their ideas, and their energy," he said.

"We want young people from interstate and indeed from right across the world, who are Tasmanian even if they don't know it yet, to come here and help us change this place for the better, to make it even more Tasmanian."

Labor MP Shane Broad urged people to take the premier's speech with a grain of salt.

"We want Tasmania to be a place where young people want to stay, rather than leaving for the mainland," he said.

"For this to happen, we need a government and a premier that delivers on their promises."