More people are moving to live and work in Australia with the country seeing its fastest growth in net overseas migration (NOM) in four years, according to the latest official figures.
The data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) shows that in the 12 months to the end of September 2016 the numbers increased by almost 9% year on year, adding 193,200 to the population
ABS demography director Beidar Cho pointed out that this is in contrast to the declines of NOM of over 10% recorded during 2014 and early 2015. But the current growth of NOM is well short of the record during 2009 when over 300,000 people were added to the population.
Compared with last year, Queensland had the fastest growing NOM, up 19%. New South Wales and Victoria are also popular destinations for newcomers up 11% and 13% respectively, while in Tasmania the numbers were up by 9%.
Overall, Australia’s population grew by 348,700 people to reach 24.2 million by the end of September 2016 and net overseas migration accounted for 55% of this while natural increase contributed 155,500 additional people.
Over the year, net overseas migration was the major contributor to population change in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia, whilst natural increase was the major contributor in all other states and territories.
The data also shows that more people left than arrived in New South Wales, South Australia, Western Australia, Tasmania, and the Northern Territory, while the opposite occurred in Victoria, Queensland and the ACT.
Recent figures from United Nations put Australian cities at the top in terms of population growth with the projections indicating a 127% rise in population in Perth, 81% rise in Brisbane, 69% growth in Melbourne and 56% in Sydney by the middle of the 2050s.
This would mean another three million residents in both Sydney and Melbourne and two million in Brisbane and Perth.
According to adjunct professor Brian Salt of Curtin Business School at some point in the 21st century Sydney is likely to see its population surpass eight million. He pointed out that cities need to plan for this kind of growth.
‘Australia is a young and vital nation with cities and regions still underdeveloped in comparison other nations. We will proudly remain an inclusive and generous immigrant nation for generations to come,’ he said.
‘This growth will be a source of prosperity and diversity in the future as it has been in the past. There may be times when we need to moderate flows or to direct immigration into those parts of the nation where skills and labour are most needed,’ he added.
Geordan Murray, an economist with the Housing Industry Association, explained that housing needs should be addressed at a time when house prices are rising strongly in Sydney and Melbourne. ‘As the age profile of Australia’s population becomes increasingly skewed towards older age groups, population growth and migration will become ever more important in ensuring Australia has a workforce capable of maintaining the nation’s ongoing economic prosperity. It is important that policy makers today are planning for this future,’ he added.