Immigration to jolt population to 22m
BY BROOKE WYLIE
The Canberra Times
23/07/2009 12:00:00 AM
Record immigration levels in recent years have driven a population explosion which is likely to see Australia hit the 22million mark by Christmas.
A report by McCrindle Research, issued yesterday, identifies a record population increase, 406,083, in the year to December 31, 2008.
If population growth continues at this rate, 44million people will live permanently in Australia, including 500,000 in the ACT, by 2050.
Although Australians also had the highest number of births on record, 62.4per cent, or nearly two-thirds, of the growth was due to permanent migration arrivals.
The economic climate doesn't appear to have slowed down migration between states but social demographer Mark McCrindle identified reasons for the fall in permanent departures.
''There has been a slowdown in permanent departures because typically permanent departures are for employment reasons,'' he said.
''There is speculation that migration may have increased due to expats returning home since the financial crisis,'' he said.
Mr McCrindle also identified strong growth in the ACT although projections in the ACT Population Report from the Chief Minister's Office indicate a peak this financial year of 1.2per cent, before seeing a decline each year after that.
The projected population growth could have serious consequences for the economy, environment and put added pressure on already struggling urban infrastructure.
The Australian Conservation Foundation's Monica Richter said a change in attitude was needed.
''We can expect increased pressure on housing, transport, water, and jobs, there are substantial implications on a whole range of areas,'' she said.
''[Stemming population growth] is really the elephant in the room, the Government needs to look at population limits.''
Sustainable Population Australia president Sandra Kanck said the projections were very concerning and outlined some consequences for the Australian economy.
''Continued growth at that rate will mean a population of 44million by 2050, which is a figure that doesn't take into account environmental refugees due to climate change,'' she said.
''There is significant cost involved in producing infrastructure to meet demand such as the creation of new power stations, extra greenhouse gas emissions and housing.''
Ms Kanck also criticised the skilled migrant program.