Australia’s population explosion

The two weeks leading up to Easter were filled with the news of the health debate between the PM and the Opposition Leader, the Federal Opposition reshuffle, soaring house prices, high auction clearance rates as well as predictions of hefty mortgage rate hikes ahead.  


If that wasn’t enough to distract you, then the start of the footy season and the Australian F1 Grand Prix probably would have done it.


In amongst all those headline fillers there was something far more significant and genuinely newsworthy, if you had been looking closely enough.


On Thursday 25 March the Australian Bureau of Statistics released some startling data about our population. Between 1 October 2008 and 30 September 2009 Australia’s population soared by 451,900 people to stand at 22.06 million people.   Of that increase, 297,400 (66%) came from net migration and the remaining 154,500 (34%) was due to natural increase (the net of births minus deaths).


State by State population growth rates:  


increase 12 mths to 30/09/09
Total population growth (000’s)
Total population (millions)

Net Overseas Migration by State

Although NSW attracted the highest number of migrants (89,100) just ahead of Victoria (82,100), the revealing statistic was that SA had the highest reliance (75%) on net overseas migration for their population increase.


Net interstate Migration

Queensland continued to be a lure for Australians moving around the country with a net increase of 16,000 people. Well-documented infrastructure problems and political instability (ineptness?) would appear to be an obvious reason for a net loss of 16,700 people from NSW to other states.


Capital City Growth

The growth rate for capital cities was 2.3%, outstripping the rest of Australia’s growth rate of 1.9%. This difference in growth rates, although not seeming to be much at 0.4%, is at a ten year high. Perth recorded the highest growth rate of 3.2%, just ahead of Darwin at 3.1%. The 93,500 people added to Melbourne’s population was the largest raw number increase of all Australian cities.   

Non-capital City Growth

In terms of raw numbers, Queensland provided the top three regional growth Local Government Areas (LGA’s) for the whole country (as usual) with perennial #1, Gold Coast (+15,643) closely followed by Moreton Bay (+13,260) and then Sunshine Coast (+9,572).


In percentage terms, WA was clearly the growth leader with Capel (+6.0%) and Mandurah (+5.1%), both in south-west WA and Port Hedland in northern WA (+4.9%) showing the way for the rest of the country, followed by Victoria’s Surf Coast (+3.9%), Townsville (+3.2%), Northern Yorke Peninsula LGA of Copper Coast (+3.2%) and WA’s Pilbara Region (+3.1%).


Global Comparisons

At 2.1%, Australia’s population growth rate ranks as third globally and almost double the world’s annual rate of population increase (1.0%). Australia’s growth rate blitzed the population growth rate of countries with which we have close ethnic, cultural or trade ties eg USA (1.0%), NZ (0.9%), China (0.5%), UK (0.3%), Greece (0.1%), Italy (0.0%) and Japan (-0.02%).


To put it another way – our national population jumps by 1,238 people per day or 8,667 per week. That’s a lot of extra people to feed, house, school or employ. 


Clearly this demand for services has been a huge factor in Australia avoiding the economic challenges besetting our friends in Europe and America. By contrast Japan’s population shrinks by an average of 70 people per day every day of the year.


Australia: The lucky country? You bet.

1 Comment

  1. Peter Williams on 08/04/2010 at 5:48 am

    How does that growth affect the lifestyles of individual Australians today and in the future?

    My children are unlikely to be able to afford any of the comfortable but modest houses I have owned in Melbourne. However they may be able to afford the house with creek frontage on a 1/4 acre block that I owned in Silicon Valley.

    That seems a large price for them to pay in return for for some extra cash for you and me today.

    To quote from

    What kind of Australia do you want for the future? One that can pay its bills without selling its backyard. One that invests in education and innovation leading to export industries to return the balance of trade to zero.

    Population growth drives the demand for infrastructure. Get over the myth that this is in any way productive unless it represents a per capita increase in common wealth.

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