Australia’s population eyes 50 million by 2066 – The Australian Financial Review

Brisbane’s population has increased by 1 million since its sewage treatment plans were upgraded.

Australia’s population could virtually double to nearly 50 million people within the next 50 years, according to new projections published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The current 25 million population is projected to rise to 30 million between 2029 and 2033, based on economic assumptions of future levels of fertility, life expectancy and migration.

By 2066, the ABS says the population will be between 37 million and 49 million.

The base case scenario, based on current trends in fertility, life expectancy at birth and migration, would see Australia have 42 million people in 48 years.

But the ultimate result will depend on rates of births, living ages and the politically-hot button issue of immigration.


Anthony Grubb, ABS director of demography, said the projected time for the nation to grow by 5 million people on current indications will be similar, if not a little shorter, than the 14 years it took to grow from 20 million to 25 million.

“Looking further ahead, based on the medium of our three main projection assumption series, Australia could add a further 10 million to our current 25 million by the year 2043,” he said.

‘Enough, enough, enough’

But if fertility and migration ends up higher than the base estimate, the country’s population would reach 35 million five years earlier in 2038.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has signalled the government is preparing to trim the permanent migrant cap and redirecting immigrants to outside of Sydney and Melbourne to ease over-crowding in the country’s most populated areas. 

“They are saying: enough, enough, enough,” Mr Morrison said on Monday.

Mr Morrison has asked state premiers and chief ministers to produce their population strategies at the next Council of Australian Governments meeting on December 12.

“The roads are clogged, the buses and trains are full. The schools are taking no more enrolments. I hear what you are saying. I hear you loud and clear,” Mr Morrison said at a public event in Sydney on Monday night.

“We need a more targeted and tailored approach to conversations about population.

He said population growth had played a key role in Australia’s economic success. 

Skilled migration applications

The International Monetary Fund said this week that immigration was an important ingredient for economic growth and to import skilled labour.

The IMF’s review of Australia’s economy said building and pricing infrastructure appropriately should be considered, code for road congestion charges.

“Relative high rates of immigration and labour force growth are an important economic growth fundamental,”  IMF mission chief to Australia Thomas Helbling said in an interview.

Victorian state Coalition leader Matthew Guy has made population central to his campaign ahead of the November 24 state election.

Mr Guy is pushing to have a 50-50 weighting between federal and state governments over skilled migration applications, claiming Victoria only has a say on five out of 65 points needed for migrants to be eligible.

Back in 2002 then-treasurer Peter Costello’s inaugural intergenerational report projected Australia’s population to rise 30 per cent to more than 25 million people by 2042.

Australia’s population surpassed that projection in August, a whopping 24 years early.

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