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1387.3 - Queensland in Review, 2003  
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Contents >> Population Characteristics >> Population size and distribution, 1859 to 2001

QUEENSLAND POPULATION

The preliminary estimated resident population of Queensland at 30 June 2001 was 3,635,121 persons, 19% of the total Australian population. Queensland's population grew by 296,400 persons in the five years from 1996 to 2001. This represented an average annual growth of 1.7%, the second fastest growth rate of all states and territories. Queensland's population is among the least centralised of the Australian states and territories, with 45% of the population living in Brisbane Statistical Division at 30 June 2001. For the latest official population figures see ABS publication Australian Demographic Statistics (cat. no. 3101.0).


ESTIMATED RESIDENT POPULATION - 30 JUNE 2001, PRELIMINARY
State
Capital city (a)
Average annual
growth rate,
1996-2001p
Proportion of
the Australian population
Average annual
growth rate,
1996-2001p
Proportion of
the state
population
no.
%
%
no.
%
%

NSW
6,609,304
1.3
33.9
4,154,722
1.4
62.9
VIC
4,822,663
1.1
24.8
3,488,750
1.2
72.3
QLD
3,635,121
1.7
18.7
1,653,365
1.7
45.5
SA
1,514,854
0.5
7.8
1,110,547
0.6
73.4
WA
1,906,114
1.5
9.8
1,397,048
1.5
73.3
TAS
472,931
-0.1
2.4
197,816
0.2
41.8
NT
200,019
1.9
1.0
108,191
2.5
54.1
ACT
321,680
.9
1.7
321,307
0.9
99.9
Australia(b)
19,485,278
1.3
100.0
(c)12,431,746
1.3
63.8

(a) Statistical division containing the capital city.
(b) Includes Jervis Bay Territory, Christmas Island and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands.
(c) Total of all capital city statistical divisions.
Source: Regional Population Growth, Australia and New Zealand, 1991 to 2001 (cat. no. 3218.0)


HISTORICAL POPULATION GROWTH

On separation from the Colony of New South Wales in 1859, Queensland's population was 23,520. Among the Australian colonies, only Western Australia had a smaller population at the time. Queensland's population has increased each year since, with the exception of 1916 and 1946, which were affected by World Wars I and II respectively.

The first census of Queensland was conducted on 7 April 1861 when the population was 30,059 comprising 18,121 males and 11,938 females.

Queensland's population exceeded a quarter of a million in 1883, reached half a million in 1901, 1 million in 1938 and 2 million in 1974. It took only another 18 years for the Queensland population to exceed 3 million, which occurred in March 1992.

ESTIMATED RESIDENT POPULATION, QUEENSLAND, AT 30 JUNE
GRAPH SHOWING ESTIMATED RESIDENT POPULATION, QUEENSLAND AT 30 JUNE, FROM 1901 TO 2001
Source: Australian Historical Population Statistics (cat. no. 3105.0.65.001) data cube.


ESTIMATED RESIDENT POPULATION, QUEENSLAND
At 30 June
Population
no.
Increase (over 20 years)
%

1901
502,279
1921
766,426
52.6
1941
1,038,256
35.5
1961
1,527,514
47.1
1981
2,345,208
53.5
2001
3,635,121
55.0

Source: Australian Historical Population Statistics (cat. no. 3105.0.65.001) data cube.

The early years after separation from New South Wales saw a large influx of migrants attracted by free passage or gifts of land orders. Discoveries of gold in the 1870s and 1880s led to another wave of immigrants, followed by a decline in the 1890s. Depressed economic conditions in the early 1900s were accompanied by a steadying in the number of births as well as in net migration.

The economic collapse in 1929 and the depression during the 1930s brought a decline in the number of births and in net migration. During World War II, net migration fell further, while births rose to 26,713 in 1945.

At the end of World War II, the Commonwealth Government launched a program to increase Australia's population by 1% annually through immigration. Queensland, although not proportionally receiving as many migrants as the major southern States, still showed considerable gains, with the population increasing to 1,106,415 in 1947. The post World War II period up to the 1960s also exhibited high fertility and was known as the 'baby boom' era.

A general lowering of the crude birth rate (births per 1,000 mean estimated resident population), to a level below that of the depression years, occurred during the 1960s and 1970s. The minor reduction in the level of natural increase during these decades was more than offset by considerable increases in net migration to Queensland, from 2,282 persons in 1960 to 23,858 persons in 1979.

COMPONENTS OF POPULATION CHANGE, QUEENSLAND - YEAR ENDED 30 JUNE

Graph showing components of population change queensland year ending 30 June from 1971 to 2001.
Source: Australian Historical Population Statistics, Data Cube (cat.no. 3105.0.65.001).


In the last 20 years, Queensland has experienced slightly higher rates of natural increase than the national average, but lower rates of overseas migration gain. Overseas migration peaked in 1980-81 and in 1988-89, followed by troughs, and recently has trended upwards from 3,700 people in 1992-93, to an estimated 16,400 people during 2000-01.

However, much of Queensland's population growth has come from interstate migration, which peaked during the years 1981-82, 1988-89 and 1992-93 (a gain of 49,200 people). During recent years, Queensland has gained more population from the movement of people within Australia than has any other state or territory - a preliminary estimate of 19,700 people in 2000-01, representing 30% of its total population growth. The largest movement of people occurred between New South Wales and Queensland - 53,400 people moved north from New South Wales into Queensland and 39,300 people moved south from Queensland.

POPULATION DISTRIBUTION 1

Since World War II, Queensland's urban population has grown strongly. At the 2001 Census of Population and Housing, 83.5% of people counted were in urban areas compared with 59.8% of people counted in the 1947 census.

The rural population, having dropped to 373,392 in 1971, increased to 602,697 by 2001. There were 110,068 persons (3% of Queenslanders) counted in small rural localities of between 200 and 999 people on Census night 2001.

Based on Estimated Resident Population figures, at 30 June 2001, the average population density for Queensland was 2.1 persons per square kilometre. Population density varied from less than two people for every ten square kilometres in the Central West, South West and North West Statistical Divisions, while there were 354 people per square kilometre in the Brisbane Statistical Division.

The two most populous local government areas in Queensland experienced the largest increases in population in Queensland and in Australia as a whole between 1996 and 2001. Brisbane increased by 74,000 people (at an average rate of 1.7% per year) while the Gold Coast increased by 69,000 people (or 3.6% per year). Coastal areas remain popular with the cities of Thuringowa and Townsville in the Northern Statistical Division increasing by 7,600 and 5,700 people respectively (representing average annual growth rates of 3.1% and 1.3%). Cairns (City) in the Far North Statistical Division increased by 7,000 people at an average rate of 1.2% per year.

POPULATION AND GROWTH IN STATISTICAL DIVISIONS, QUEENSLAND - 30 JUNE 2001
Estimated
resident
population
Proportion of
Queensland
population
Average annual
growth rate,
1996-2001
Population
density
no.
%
%
persons/sq km

Brisbane
1,653,365
45.5
1.7
353.8
Moreton
726,382
20.0
3.3
41.2
Wide Bay - Burnett
236,864
6.5
1.1
4.5
Darling Downs
210,349
5.8
1.0
2.3
South West
26,927
0.7
0.4
0.1
Fitzroy
181,582
5.0
0.4
1.5
Central West
12,489
0.3
-0.1
0.0
Mackay
137,561
3.8
0.6
1.5
Northern
190,784
5.2
1.3
2.4
Far North
222,868
6.1
1.1
0.8
North West
35,950
1.0
0.0
0.1
Queensland
3,635,121
100.0
1.7
2.1

Source: Regional Population Growth, 1991 to 2001 (cat. no. 3218.0)

South-East Queensland

Recent population growth in Queensland has been concentrated in the more densely populated south-east corner of the state. The Moreton and Brisbane Statistical Divisions accounted for four-fifths (81.5%) of the total population growth of Queensland between 1996 and 2001. This growth increased the proportion of the total Queensland population living in this region to 65.5% at June 2001.

The Brisbane Statistical Division is designed to contain the metropolitan area of Brisbane. It extends beyond the local government boundaries of Brisbane City and incorporates neighbouring local government areas. At June 2001, the Brisbane Statistical Division contained an estimated 1.7 million people, an increase of 133,374 people since June 1996. Within the Brisbane Statistical Division, the peripheral local government areas of Beaudesert Shire (Part A), Pine Rivers and Redland Shire showed the highest growth rates.

Surrounding the Brisbane Statistical Division is the Moreton Statistical Division, which extends north along the Sunshine Coast to Noosa, west to Esk and Gatton, and south along the Gold Coast to the NSW border. The Moreton Statistical Division has been the fastest growing Statistical Division in Queensland recently, averaging an annual growth rate of 3.3% between 1996 and 2001. The major growth areas within this region were the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast Statistical Districts.

Regional Queensland

Low to moderate growth was recorded in most statistical divisions of Queensland outside the south-east corner, in the period 1996 to 2001. The Northern Statistical Division recorded the highest growth rate of 1.3% per year (11,700 people). The Wide Bay - Burnett and Far North Statistical Divisions both increased by 1.1% per year, or 12,600 and 12,100 people respectively during the five year period.

While growth was recorded in most coastal centres, many other rural areas had population declines. The population of the Central West Statistical Division declined during the five years 1996 to 2001, and the population of the North West Statistical Division remained steady. The largest decreases in population in Queensland were recorded in the mining areas of Duaringa (Shire) and Mount Isa (City), down 1,600 and 1,200 people respectively between 1996 and 2001. The City of Rockhampton recorded a decrease of 1,100 people, largely associated with an emerging trend for people to reside in the adjoining shire of Livingstone Shire.


POPULATION MOBILITY

During October 2000, the ABS conducted a survey throughout Queensland on the mobility of the population, as a supplement to the Monthly Population Survey.

The survey found that in October 2000 there were 1,078,500 persons in Queensland aged 18 years and over who had moved in the previous three years (41.4%) compared with 1,525,600 persons who had not moved (58.6%). The most mobile age group was between 25 and 34 years, with 67.5% (358,400) having moved in the last three years. The percentage decreases steadily as age increases, with only 13.7% (51,200) of the 65 years and over age group having moved.

The most likely movers were persons living in a semidetached, row or terrace house, a town house etc. with 79.7% (143,500) having moved. Of those who lived in a flat/unit/apartment, 68.6% (133,800) moved in the last 3 years. Persons who lived in separate houses 35.9% (790,000) were the least likely to have moved. Of all movers 35.7% (385,300) considered the size of the yard when moving.

Further summary results can be found in the Main Features of Population Mobility, Queensland (cat. no. 3237.3).

The 2001 Census of Population and Housing is another source of data on population mobility. Based on persons usually resident in Queensland, 45% of the population (1,593,134 people) had changed address in the five years since 1996. Three quarters of these moves occurred within Queensland. Readers interested in the characteristics of movers can obtain detailed cross-classified tables tailored to their needs from the ABS Consultancy Service - Customised Tables Service. For further information, contact the ABS National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070 or email census2001@abs.gov.au.

Footnotes

1 The regional population estimates are preliminary for 2001, based on results of the 2001 Census of Population and Housing. Final estimates for 2001 will be published in the 2001-02 edition of Regional Population Growth, Australia and New Zealand (cat. no. 3218.0), due for release in May 2003.


FURTHER INFORMATION

Queensland Year Book (cat. no. 1301.3), Population.


Other sources of information:


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