AUSTRALIA is adding a new Darwin every 20 weeks in a population surge that is set to impact household wealth, lifestyles and home prices.Projections by the Australian Bureau of Statistics put the nation’s population at 40 million within the next 40 years, more than double what it was just a decade ago.
And the strongest growth won’t be in the big states of New South Wales and Victoria despite both their capital cities bulging with eight million people by 2057.
Social researcher Mark McCrindle said Australia’s population was being driven higher by a combination of new migrants, a birth boom and a longevity boom.
“It’s big numbers. The 1.4 per cent per annum current increase sounds modest in percentage terms, but is one new Darwin every 20 weeks and a new Tasmania every 18 months,” he said. Darwin’s current population is about 145,000.
Mr McCrindle said the population growth would improve household wealth as demand for housing increased property prices, but this would vary between cities.
Australia’s strong population growth will be good for the economy and house price increases.
“People with property will gain from that. Those without property are not really sharing in the wealth that the growth brings,” he said.
However, everyone in large cities would feel the strain of traffic bottlenecks, increasing travel times, longer waiting lists and infrastructure issues he said.
“Some of our cities are starting to feel the pain of that. Australia has been pushing the red line in the past decade or so.”
The ABS projects WA’s population to more than double in the next 40 years from 2.6 million to 6.1 million, and Queensland to grow 85 per cent to 8.9 million.
NSW is projected to grow 45 per cent to 11.2 million, Victoria 64 per cent to 10 million, South Australia 35 per cent to 2.3 million, Tasmania 9 per cent to 567,000, the ACT 80 per cent to 711,000 and the Northern Territory 77 per cent to 434,000.
Mr McCrindle said Queensland was Australia’s most decentralised state, with more than half its population living outside the capital city, giving it greater capacity to grow.
KPMG demographer Bernard Salt said Sydney and Melbourne were on track to add another three million people each within 40 years, while the end of the mining boom might moderate growth in WA and Queensland.
He said the projected growth would mean “greater competition for housing in the future than ever before”. This would require increased housing density and more employment closer to where people lived, he said.
“As the world grows from seven billion to 11 billion people, Australia one way or another will attract more people through immigration,” Mr Salt said.
“We might lament the fact that Melbourne and Sydney are not what they once were, but they are better places than equivalent cities in the northern hemisphere.”
Unemployment was unlikely to get worse with a bigger population because more people created more opportunities, Mr Salt said.
“Twenty-five years ago unemployment was closer to 12 per cent.” Despite high migration levels in the past decade, Australia’s unemployment rate had stayed below 6 per cent, he said.
“Some people say they want Australia to be better, not bigger. I want Australia to be bigger and better, because it is bigger and better today than it was 10, 20 and 40 years ago.”