November 3, 2017
Source: Daily Telegraph
Author: Daryl Passmore, Annabel Hennessy
3 November, 2017
AUSTRALIA’S population is booming and expected to hit almost 25 million next year, more than 30 years ahead of official forecasts.
The incredible growth is the result of a “triple whammy’’ — rising fertility rates, increasing longevity and immigration.
A 1998 Australian Bureau of Statistics forecast had the country on track for a population of 24.9 million by 2051 but it will hit that level by the middle of next year.
Growth is more than 2½ times that anticipated and, at current rates, there will be 38 million Aussies by the middle of this century.
Sydney is on track to reach nine million people by 2051, nearly three million more than predicted in 1998.
“If we’re wondering why our cities are groaning with insufficient infrastructure, it’s because the planners have been going off the wrong numbers,” social researcher Mark McCrindle said
“Australia’s population growth is now one of the highest in the developed world. We have added 390,000 people in the past 12 months.”
In 1998, the ABS believed the net arrivals from other countries would be between 70,000 and 90,000 per year. But 231,900 migrants came in the past 12 months.
Fertility rates rose in response to the 2001 introduction of the baby bonus payment — and later then-treasurer Peter Costello’s call for parents to “have one for mum, one for dad and one for the country’’.
It produced a surge in the number of births greater than the post-war baby boom.
“But the major factor that has blown out previous population modelling has been the rise and rise of Australia’s net overseas migration,” Mr McCrindle said.
Modelling suggested there would be 29,000 people added to the NSW population each year, but last year there were 116,000.
Committee for Sydney director of advocacy James Hulme said the city’s booming population was a positive.
“We should be seeing it as a positive that so many people want to live and work here,” he said.
NSW Property Council executive director Jane Fitzgerald said Sydney needed to maximise the the benefits of population growth.
“Population increases are a key consideration when planning our cities. It’s best to plan for the higher end of population predications because growth is often greater than initially predicted. Sydney is already building new transport options, great new places for growing communities and has a plan for the next 20 years – but we need to make sure we are not complacent and we are always revising and reassessing,” she said.
“Especially in new growth areas in our west and south west, in addition to new homes we must also be ensuring that communities are being built – that means new schools, universities, hospitals and jobs. With the increase in population in these areas, encouraging new industries that can produce jobs is critical – with the growth in logistics and interest from new companies like Amazon; it’s important we provide land in growth areas for new investment.
University of Sydney Professor of Planning Glen Searle, however, said the country needed to have an “honest debate” on whether the growth is sustainable.
He said with majority of Sydney’s taxes going to the Commonwealth, there was a problem where the state government was not being given the money it needed to build infrastructure.
“Government and business alike promote the positives of population growth and downplay the negatives,” he said.
Hayley Markham is chief operating officer at Code Camp, which runs school holiday camps teaching kids how to code.
The mother of three said education was her biggest concern in relation to population growth.
“I hope that new education infrastructure such as new schools, internet infrastructure and technology can support children far into the future,” Ms Markham said.