Population Soaring Across Country

Population Soaring Across Country

Andrew Fraser
The Australian
April 1, 2008

AUSTRALIA'S population is racing ahead at rates not consistently seen since the migrant boom years of the 1950s and 60s, with growth of 1.5 per cent, or a record 315,700 extra people, during 2006-07.

Figures released yesterday by the Australian Bureau of Statistics show the growth is not being driven in any one particular geographic or demographic area, but is across all Australia except for parts of western NSW and western Queensland.

Growth is slightly stronger on the edges of capital cities, in the inner cities, and in seachange areas, particularly along the east coast.

The overall growth rate of 1.53per cent was up from 1.48per cent the previous year.

While there were two years of high migration in the 80s in which higher growth rates were recorded, it was back in the period 1947-72 that Australia consistently recorded more than 1.5per cent.

However, in terms of raw numbers, the extra 316,000 people who called Australia home in 2006-07 represents the biggest increase ever.

A breakdown of the growth compared with the previous year shows there were 10,000 extra births (273,000, up from 263,000) and 31,000 extra people gained through migration (178,000, up from 147,000), although there were also 1000 more deaths (135,000, up from 134,000).

“It's everything coming together at the same time,” said demographer Bernard Salt.

“Generation X has finally realised they can have babies; migration is very high, mainly because of the skills shortage and the need to fill jobs to keep the mining boom going; and the baby boomers aren't dying yet.”

The Gold Coast and Brisbane remained the fastest-growing areas, with an extra 17,000 and an extra 16,000 people respectively, meaning the City of Brisbane local government area's population has now exceeded a million.

After these, the big growth areas were on the edge of major cities, with Wanneroo, on the northern outskirts of Perth, and then Wyndham and Casey, on the outskirts of Melbourne, being next on the list of fastest-growing.

Another high-growth group were the seachange coasts, with the Tweed-Byron area of northern NSW and the “surf coast” area of Victoria around Torquay among the boom areas.

The competition between Sydney and Melbourne also intensified, with the population of the Melbourne statistical district growing by an extra 62,000 people, while that of the Sydney statistical district grew by only 51,000.

But while the growth in Melbourne was the same as the previous year, the growth in Sydney was well up on the 36,000 recorded previously.

“They love their rivalry, Sydney and Melbourne, and it'll be interesting to see next year if Sydney keeps growing and can get back in front,” Mr Salt said.

Moree and Narrabri in NSW and Banana and Duaringa in Queensland had the biggest losses, but together they amounted to just a few hundred people.

In Tasmania, population growth of 0.7 per cent was concentrated around Hobart, with Brighton, Sorrell and Latrobe being the fastest-growing municipalities.

South Australia's total growth of 16,000 was the highest recorded in that state since 1974-75, with the inner city of Adelaide recording the fastest population growth in the state.