Population growth fastest in three years

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By Leith van Onselen

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) this morning released the Australian Demographic Statistics for the December quarter of 2012.

According to the ABS, Australia’s population grew by 1.8% in the year to December 2012, which was the highest annual recorded rate of growth since December 2009, and above the 30-year average of 1.4%.

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The growth in the number of persons in the year to September 2012 was 394,300, which was 142,556 above the 30-year average:

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As shown above, Australia’s population growth continues to be driven by net overseas migration (NOM) – i.e. those residing in Australia for 12 months or more.

While NOM has declined from a peak of 315,700 in calendar year 2008 to 235,900 calendar year 2012 – it remains well above the average level of 124,770.

Moreover, the proportion of population growth derived from NOM – 60% in the year to December 2012 – remains well above the 30-year average of 48%:

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Separate data compiled by the ABS, which measures permanent arrivals/departures into Australia only, suggests that nearly two-thirds of NOM is temporary, although some proportion of these arrivals do become permanent residents at a later date.

As shown in the next chart, the number of net permanent arrivals into Australia was 61,130 in the 12 months to April 2013, which is tracking just below the 30-year average of 66,378:

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While natural increase – the difference between births and deaths – is not the key driver of Australia’s population growth, it too is running at levels well above the 30-year average (see below chart).

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More recently, Australia’s population growth rate has been driven by migration into Australia’s key resources state – Western Australia – where population grew at a rate (3.5%) that was nearly double the national average (1.8%) in the 12 months to December 2012:

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In number terms, however, population growth in the 12 months to December 2012 was highest in Victoria (99,548), followed by Queensland (92,453), New South Wales (90,441), and Western Australia (83,031):

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  1. Alex Heyworth

    No wonder governments are having trouble keeping up with our infrastructure needs. Might be better than a shrinking, aging population though.

  2. Yep, more international students as our numbers for PR visa’s did not really change.

    As I said in another thread, bring in 460,000 students (all of which must return home or apply for one of our capped Visa classes) and after the first year, BINGO! an offical 2% increase in our population.

    Mad as batpoo….

    The 12/16 rules is very clear on the chart on this page from the 2006 changes onwards…
    http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/[email protected]/Previousproducts/3101.0Feature%20Article2Jun%202010?opendocument&tabname=Summary&prodno=3101.0&issue=Jun%202010&num=&view=

    “NOM should not, however, be used as the sole measure of population growth. The proportion admitted for permanent residence, as distinct from those admitted on a temporary basis,
    provides a key indicator of medium and long-­‐term change.”


    • Disappointing journalism from MB when no distinction is made between Net Overseas Migration and Immigration where both definitions have been conflated, and give a headline more impact (spruiking for the RE sector who also suggest high immigration of prospective house buyers?).

      The clearest explanation of population and immigration by either media or a politician was not, surprise surprise, in Australia, but UK Business Secretary Vince cable describing population made up of NOM under the UN definition as a statistical anomaly (one his policy people probably found out in 10 minutes of research, something no one in Australia has managed to do over several years), and the conflation as misleading and confusing (though sustainable population types don’t complain).


      If students, backpackers etc. should be and are included in estimated resident population for reasons of environment, infrastructure, carbon footprint etc., then surely it makes sense to include few million medium term (3-12 months) tourists and students (as the former tear round the countryside and heritage nature areas?

      • Yes, MYST population unknown, traffic high.
        We just count natural growth 154k and net permanent. Mmmm… The net rate would be the 180k arrivals minus emigration of 90k I suppose.

        Ok, so 244k from 22 millions is……what %?

  3. I think most people would rather just whinge about things rather than do anything about it. We’ll see how the Stable Population Party goes in September.

    • A movements got to start somewhere I guess, but if it weren’t for you Bluebird, I’d hardly be aware of them.

      If they want to pull the votes they’d better start going for some exposure & put a well reasoned clear case of their whyfors loudly in the MSM.

      I can see the ‘preferred’ two parties invoking hysterics & pulling a ‘racist’ number on them, expecting them to cringe & scurry away.

    • I suspect this is why we’ve seen such a growth in minor parties. Like Katter and Clive. In order to dissipate the minor party votes.

      The SPP have already copped their share of hysterics I suppose. But from my experience, most people just don’t care. Even though it’s right in their face. For instance I was talking to a young woman who works as a school teacher in a low socio economic area, so she even forks out her own money for her classes, and she was whinging about housing affordability, so I propose the SPP, nothing. Just a negative automatic knee jerk rejection.

      The propaganda is so lavish and relentless by the vested interests. It’s near impossible to get through.

      Yes, well, I’m not sure how well the “racist” card works. It’s been a complete failure for Gillard, thank god. Although rather that has been “misogyny”, it’s close friend, apparently every white man in Australia utterly despises women if you were to believe the chattering classes.

  4. Oh ffs. What is with these political parties – growth at any cost. Don’t worry about infrastructure, don’t worry about the cost of housing, schools, hospitals, roads. Don’t worry about the people that live here.

    The parties are owned boots and teeth by the corporates.

    • It’s true and I’m sure the people they are screwing over will continue to vote for these parties. So why should they change? It’s a win win for them, and maybe even a S&M type win for the dumb voters.

    • Too depressingly true aj.

      What ownership doesn’t reside in teh corporates the rest residies in lawyer types and local real estate agents.

  5. Mr SquiggleMEMBER

    This is very disappointing news.

    Its hard to know which is worse, hearing this or James Gandolfini passing.

  6. The Patrician

    1.8%… Lazy, last-century, business-lobby-driven, dumb Growthonomics.
    Double that of Canada, the US and New Zealand.

    Triple that of Thailand, Norway and South Africa

    Nearly 4 times that of Sweden, France, the UK and China.

    That 40 million just got a couple of years closer.

  7. this and low rates is why i am in the market for a house. I’m certainly not writing off a large crash, but continued govt support means a crash is not guaranteed. Beware median prices as well – with the ridiculous rate of pop growth in Melbourne, the median priced house moves further and further out each year. Which means if you buy a median priced house, even if the median does not move much in 10 years, chances are your house will no longer be mid range but somewhere close to the upper quartile.

    … yes i know prices are crazy, but so is govt policy, and most importantly so is my wife who wont get off my back. At least I will have sulking rights for the next 30 years if things go pear shaped – and my wife has accepted this as her fate should sanity return to the Aus market.

    • Hypothetically, if I was thinking of buying a house and I thought interest rates were headed lower and staying lower for a long time, then I would think about borrowing more, i.e a mortgage with a higher LVR – which means a smaller deposit – and then I could use the excess funds to buy USD (i.e ipso facto short AUD), thus possibly protecting nominal falls in future house prices.

      • yes – not a bad idea. It implies I can afford the interest charges on teh aditional borrowing, which i guess i could if rates were lower. If i wasnt buying i think i would look to put more money in offshore index funds

  8. This urgent rush to bring in as many people as possible in the shortest space of time is beyond crazy, but it’s obvious why the government is so intent on this relentless quest for population growth.

    I can’t help remembering that we had severe water shortages only a few years ago, but now that problem seems to be behind us forever, and there is plenty of water for millions more people.

    My question is this: given that the government(whatever persuasion) will stop at nothing to prop up house prices, and given that even though private debt is huge, the amount of government debt is considered low compared to other nations, how much will the government borrow to keep fuelling the bubble? Will they ever say enough is enough?

  9. Stable Population

    We should balance permanent immigration with permanent emigration. In doing this, we should conduct a comprehensive review of all permanent and temporary immigration programs. If we were serious about stabilising population and preserving quality of life, this would likely result in significant reductions in a range of low priority and/or counter-productive visa programs, such as the 457 visa and the granting of automatic post-study work visas to economic migrants posing as international students.