Mar 06, 2018
Michael Matusik

Much has been written of late about Australia’s rate of population growth.

Some say high migration is needed, others it is a Ponzi scheme.

I have said my piece and to revisit click on these topics:

Big Australia – Ponzi or not?
House of cards
Are we full?

This week we will look at past population growth and the current projections.  Today I will cover the capital cities.  I will look at the Queensland regional markets later in the week*.

If I was to have a stab at it I would say that, unless we substantially change things; these four key urban trends are very likely to happen in coming decades:

1. The world’s population will continue to grow – mostly in the developing world – but also in places like Australia and in many other parts of the Pacific too.

2. Technology’s impact will continue to grow (note I didn’t say advance) and the things that are needed in this new tech (minerals etc.) will be in increasing demand, this works well for Australia.

3. China’s middle class will increase, growing the demand for services, places to visit and live.  Australia is in a box position here but we have to get our heads out of our backsides.  Too many seem to think that China’s 1.4 billion are here to serve us 25 million Australians.

4. Urbanisation will continue to accelerate, not only in developing nations but western countries as well, including Australia.

I could argue, with substantial evidence, that piling more people into Sydney, Melbourne, south east Queensland and Perth, is causing more harm than good, but the trends and forecast suggest that this will continue, and in fact, is likely to hasten in the future.

It is projected that Australia’s population will increase by between 350,000 and 400,000 per annum over the next 25 years.

And much of this growth, close to 80%, will take place in just four urban areas being:

  • Sydney: 82,000 per annum
  • Melbourne: 92,500 per annum
  • South east Queensland: 72,000 (being Brisbane increasing by 53,000 pa, Gold Coast by 12,000 pa and the Sunshine Coast by 7,000 pa)
  • Perth: 70,000 per annum

For more detail see our table below:

Capitals    2016 actual population   2026 forecast population   2006 to 2016 past growth pa   2016 to 2026 projected growth pa   Change last ten years versus projected growth  
Sydney 5,029,768 5,848,668 77,364 81,890 4,526 6%
Melbourne 4,725,316 5,650,216 96,456 92,490 -3,966 -4%
Brisbane 2,360,241 2,888,041 45,198 52,780 7,582 17%
Adelaide 1,324,279 1,479,079 13,504 15,480 1,976 15%
Perth 2,022,044 2,729,444 44,513 70,740 26,227 59%
Hobart 224,462 242,062 1,971 1,760 -211 -11%
Darwin 145,916 165,816 3,246 1,990 -1,256 -39%
Canberra 403,468 480,668 6,830 7,720 890 13%
Capitals 16,235,494 19,483,994 289,080 324,850 35,770 12%

For mine Sydney and Melbourne’s projections are light – they will most likely be closer to 100,000 per annum over the next decade – and whilst the Western Australian’s economy appears to be on the mend, Perth isn’t likely to see a 70,000 annum increase in population in coming years.  I think something like 40,000 per annum is more likely.

South east Queensland’s projection, whilst higher than the past ten years, feels right.  It could be higher if more subdividable land was available in the Brisbane City Council area; west of the M1 on the Gold Coast and along the railway towns on the Sunshine Coast.

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Until next time,



Michael Matusik

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