Australia’s population today reached the 24 million mark for the first time in its history, according to the Bureau of Statistics Population Clock.
Although it has not yet been revealed as to whether the 24th million Australian was a new-born or migrant, there is little doubt that an increase in net-migration over the past decade has helped the country’s population grow at record rates.
The country had only surpassed the 23 million population mark in March 2013, yet it is projected to reach the next million even faster, with demographers predicting the population to top 25 million by early 2018. The population is expected to reach 30 million by 2030.
While demographer Andrew Howe says that births have traditionally been the biggest driver of population growth, he said that in the past 10 years it is migration that has led the nation’s population growth.
“The past seven, eight, nine years we’ve had record numbers of overseas migrants entering the country,” Howe said. “And that’s reflected in our higher than expected population growth rates in recent years.”
The population figures do show that most migrants – and indeed Australians in general – tend to favour settling in a state capital. At the time of Australian Federation in 1901, the majority of Australians lived outside of their capital city in their state. Today, most choose to live in it with Sydney (64 per cent of NSW) and Melbourne (76 per cent of Victoria) leading the pack.
Tasmania and Queensland are the only exceptions, with more of the population choosing to live outside Hobart (43 per cent of Tasmania) and Brisbane (48 per cent of Queensland).
The figures also show that more than 1.2 million people who were born in the UK are now classed as permanent residents in Australia – this accounts for 5.4 per cent of the total population.
However, according to Howe, while the UK has traditionally been Australia’s largest source of immigrants, this trend is now being challenged by those from New Zealand, India and China.