While both sides presented convincing arguments, the majority of them were focussed on broad sweeping motherhood statements and provided little substantive flesh on the bones. The team in the affirmative made calls for "making Tasmania amazing", encouraging "engagement", "critical thinking" "cultural diversity" and "community inter-connectivity". On the other side, rebuttals came in the form of growing "niche markets", "ending our growth fetish" and creating "small innovative enterprises". Surprisingly, no one addressed how these goals could be or would be achieved.
I do not adopt a value position on whether Tasmania's population should be bigger, or should be smaller. We are what we are and we need to work within those parameters to be the best we can be (talk about motherhood statements!). What struck me most during this debate was the audience polling.
Overwhelmingly, both before the debate began, and at its end, the audience was strongly opposed to the idea that bigger is better for Tasmania. There was very little desire for the state's population to grow.
Now, I am not suggesting that on the basis of a informal opinion poll of roughly 200 Tasmanians that this attitude is reflective of a broader community desire to keep our population numbers down. But, it did get me thinking, particularly in the context of recent Tasmanian population projections, and the Liberal's plan for a "BIG Tasmania". The first projects our population increase (at its medium target) by almost 59,000 people by 2062, while the latter aims for a population of 650,000 by 2050 (a whopping increase of 138,000 people over the next 37 years).