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1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2005  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 21/01/2005   
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Contents >> Population >> Geographic distribution of the population

Most of Australia’s population is concentrated in two widely separated coastal regions. By far the larger of these, in terms of area and population, lies in the south-east and east. The smaller of the two regions is in the south-west of the continent. In both coastal regions the population is concentrated in urban centres, particularly the state and territory capital cities.

Australia's population density at 30 June 2003 was 2.6 people per square kilometre, compared with 2.4 people per square kilometre in 1998. The Australian Capital Territory had the highest population density of the states and territories at June 2003 with 137 people per square kilometre (reflecting the fact that the city of Canberra constitutes a large proportion of the Australian Capital Territory's area), followed by Victoria with 22 people per square kilometre. The Northern Territory had a population density of only 0.1 people per square kilometre, the lowest of all the states and territories (reflecting more recent settlement, distance from areas settled earlier, large arid areas and, perhaps, climate).

Population density at June 2003 was highest in the city centres, particularly in the Sydney Statistical Division, where the three most densely populated Statistical Local Areas (SLAs) in Australia were located. These were Sydney (C) - Remainder (8,100 people per square kilometre), Waverley (A) (6,700 people per square kilometre) and North Sydney (5,700 people per square kilometre). Fourth on the list, and the most densely populated SLA in Victoria, was Port Phillip (C) - St. Kilda, with 5,500 people per square kilometre. The distribution of Australia's population at 30 June 2003 is shown in map 5.15.

5.15 POPULATION(a) DISTRIBUTION - 30 June 2003
Map 5.15: POPULATION(a) DISTRIBUTION - 30 June 2003

(a) Estimated resident population.

Source: Regional Population Growth, Australia and New Zealand (3218.0).


Regional population change

The fastest population growth of all states and territories in 2002-03 was recorded in Queensland, which increased by 2.3%. Queensland's increase in population of 85,800 people was also the largest population increase of all the states and territories in 2002-03. Population growth in Victoria has accelerated in recent years, reaching 1.2% in 2002-03; Victoria experienced the second largest increase of the states and territories, increasing by 60,200 people. New South Wales remained the most populous state, with 6.7 million people, and experienced the third largest increase in population in 2002-03, of 52,500 people. The Northern Territory's annual growth rate of -0.2% in 2002-03 was the lowest growth rate of all the states and territories, and was the first annual decrease recorded in the Northern Territory since 1974-75 when the population decreased by over 10,000 people due to large net interstate migration losses as a result of Cyclone Tracy in December 1974.

Table 5.16 sets out the estimated resident population in major population regions at 30 June 1998 and 30 June 2003. At June 2003, capital city statistical divisions (SDs) were home to 12.7 million people, or around two-thirds (64%) of Australia's population. The largest growth among the capital city SDs between 1998 and 2003 occurred in Sydney SD, followed by Melbourne and Brisbane SDs. Of the capital city SDs, Brisbane was the fastest growing capital city in Australia between 1998 and 2003, increasing by an average 2% per year, followed by Perth (1.4%) and Darwin and Melbourne (each 1.3%).


5.16 ESTIMATED RESIDENT POPULATION IN MAJOR REGIONS(a)

Change(b)

30 June 1998
30 June 2003
1998-2003
1998-2003
no.
no.
no.
%

Capital city statistical division
Sydney
3,969,649
4,201,493
46,369
1.14
Melbourne
3,342,230
3,559,654
43,485
1.27
Brisbane
1,567,996
1,733,227
33,046
2.02
Adelaide
1,090,526
1,119,920
5,879
0.53
Perth
1,334,992
1,433,217
19,645
1.43
Greater Hobart
195,913
199,886
795
0.40
Darwin
101,165
107,922
1,351
1.30
Canberra
309,539
322,492
2,591
0.82
Statistical District
Newcastle (NSW)
474,512
501,687
5,435
1.12
Gold Coast-Tweed (Qld/NSW)
381,178
456,485
15,061
3.67
Canberra-Queanbeyan (ACT/NSW)
348,215
367,656
3,888
1.09
Wollongong (NSW)
260,538
273,427
2,578
0.97
Sunshine Coast (Qld)
168,305
200,139
6,367
3.53
Geelong (Vic.)
153,571
162,835
1,853
1.18
Townsville (Qld)
125,203
140,600
3,079
2.35
Cairns (Qld)
110,077
117,400
1,465
1.30
Toowoomba (Qld)
104,324
113,687
1,873
1.73
Launceston (Tas.)
98,279
100,590
462
0.47
Albury-Wodonga (NSW/Vic.)
94,327
100,277
1,190
1.23
Ballarat (Vic.)
80,444
85,956
1,102
1.33
Bendigo (Vic.)
76,133
82,006
1,175
1.50
Burnie-Devonport (Tas.)
78,356
78,175
-36
-0.05
Bathurst-Orange (NSW)
73,182
77,094
782
1.05
La Trobe Valley (Vic.)
75,734
74,551
-237
-0.31
Rockhampton (Qld)
67,642
67,838
39
0.06
Mackay (Qld)
62,212
66,804
918
1.43
Mandurah (WA)
54,124
65,913
2,358
4.02
Bundaberg (Qld)
55,098
58,495
679
1.20
Wagga Wagga (NSW)
52,074
52,688
123
0.23
Bunbury (WA)
44,808
51,519
1,342
2.83
Coffs Harbour (NSW)
43,891
48,047
831
1.83
Mildura (Vic.)
42,721
46,444
745
1.69
Shepparton (Vic.
42,165
46,298
827
1.89
Hervey Bay (Qld)
37,590
42,922
1,066
2.69
Tamworth (NSW)
41,115
42,921
361
0.86
Gladstone (Qld)
38,082
40,737
531
1.36
Port Macquarie (NSW)
34,864
39,966
1,020
2.77
Dubbo (NSW)
33,621
35,388
353
1.03
Nowra-Bomaderry (NSW)
29,350
31,448
420
1.39
Geraldton (WA)
30,701
31,088
77
0.25
Lismore (NSW)
31,010
30,760
-50
-0.16
Warrnambool (Vic.)
28,107
30,354
449
1.55
Kalgoorlie/Boulder (WA)
30,028
29,425
-121
-0.40

(a) Data are based on the 2001 Census and 2003 Australian Standard Geographical Classification boundaries.
(b) Average annual growth rate in the period 1998 to 2003.

Source: Australian Demographic Statistics (3101.0).


Generally, the largest growth outside capital city SDs occurred in coastal Australia. Table 5.16 shows the largest growth recorded between 1998 and 2003 was in the Gold Coast-Tweed Statistical District. This region also experienced the second fastest growth, increasing by 3.7% on average per year between 1998 and 2003. Western Australia had the Statistical District with the fastest growing population - Mandurah (4%) - and the Statistical District with fastest population decrease - Kalgoorlie/Boulder (-0.4%). In New South Wales there were increases in population for many coastal Local Government Areas (LGAs) outside the Sydney SD, with the largest occurring in Tweed (A), Hastings (A) and Port Stephens (A). The Victorian LGAs of Bass Coast (S) and Surf Coast (S) continued to experience strong growth in 2002-03.

Many of Australia's inner city areas experienced high levels of growth during 2002-03. The LGA of Melbourne (C) recorded an annual growth rate of 7.9%, while the LGAs of Perth (C) and Sydney (C) also experienced rapid growth, increasing by 7.2% and 5.9% respectively in 2002-03. Elsewhere, other inner city areas to experience high levels of growth were the Brisbane statistical local areas (SLAs) of City - Inner, City - Remainder and Newstead, the Darwin SLA of City - Inner and the Canberra SLAs of City, Turner and Braddon.

Much of Australia's growth occurred in the outer LGAs of capital city SDs. In Sydney SD, the LGAs of Baulkham Hills (A), Blacktown (C) and Liverpool (C) experienced large growth (up 4,100, 3,400 and 2,300 people respectively), while the largest growth within Melbourne SD occurred in the fringe LGAs of Casey (C), Wyndham (C) and Melton (S) (up 10,900, 7,300 and 6,900 people respectively). Melton also recorded Australia's fastest annual growth rate during 2002-03, of 11.8%.

Some areas of Australia have experienced significant population decline in recent years. While some of the population declines have occurred in established areas within capital cities and major urban centres, the fastest population declines have occurred in rural areas. Most of this decline has been caused by net migration loss. Such population loss is associated with technological, social and economic changes and industry restructuring in local economies. The five fastest declining LGAs were Dundas (S), in South Eastern SD in Western Australia, and Dalwallinu (S), in Midlands SD, Western Australia (down 7.2% and 6.2% respectively), Blackall (S), in Central West SD in Queensland and Millmerran (S), in Darling Downs SD, Queensland (down 4.3% and 3.6% respectively), and Karoonda East Murray (DC) in Murray Lands SD in South Australia (down 3.8%).

In 1901, 64% of Australians lived outside capital cities. This proportion fell steadily and by 1962 only 40% lived outside capital cities. Between 1976 and 2003 the decline appeared to have halted, with a slight increase in the proportion of people living in the balance of states and territories (graph 5.17), which may have been due to people moving to coastal regions and other urban centres.

Graph 5.17: POPULATION IN BALANCES OF STATES AND TERRITORIES



Interstate migration

The main factor changing the distribution of Australia's population has been internal migration. During 2002-03, 398,500 people moved from one state or territory to another, 14,400 more than in the previous year.


5.18 POPULATION GROWTH RATES

NSW
Vic.
Qld
SA
WA
Tas.
NT
ACT
Aust.
Year ended 30 June
%
%
%
%
%
%
%
%
%

NATURAL INCREASE RATE

1998
0.63
0.60
0.73
0.45
0.76
0.44
1.51
0.92
0.65
1999
0.64
0.58
0.71
0.45
0.80
0.56
1.45
0.95
0.65
2000
0.64
0.59
0.70
0.42
0.75
0.44
1.41
0.89
0.64
2001
0.61
0.56
0.71
0.37
0.75
0.43
1.46
0.85
0.62
2002
0.59
0.58
0.67
0.38
0.67
0.43
1.44
0.80
0.60
2003
0.60
0.54
0.63
0.35
0.65
0.41
1.42
0.83
0.58

NET OVERSEAS MIGRATION RATE

1998
0.51
0.42
0.37
0.21
0.67
0.01
0.30
-0.08
0.43
1999
0.65
0.53
0.40
0.18
0.73
0.04
0.53
-0.07
0.52
2000
0.68
0.58
0.50
0.26
0.76
0.09
0.49
-0.03
0.57
2001
0.90
0.75
0.59
0.18
0.87
0.02
0.45
0.23
0.71
2002
0.68
0.42
0.73
0.19
0.79
0.07
0.33
0.22
0.57
2003
0.68
0.70
0.61
0.31
0.93
0.14
0.12
0.09
0.64

NET INTERSTATE MIGRATION RATE

1998
-0.20
-0.01
0.51
-0.13
0.18
-0.77
-0.25
-0.64
. .
1999
-0.21
0.05
0.48
-0.11
0.02
-0.70
-0.50
-0.16
. .
2000
-0.22
0.11
0.53
-0.24
-0.12
-0.56
-0.47
-0.03
. .
2001
-0.25
0.11
0.56
-0.16
-0.17
-0.45
-0.81
0.13
. .
2002
-0.37
0.09
0.86
-0.11
-0.23
-0.32
-1.31
-0.33
. .
2003
-0.48
0.00
1.06
-0.10
-0.15
0.40
-1.71
-0.51
. .

TOTAL POPULATION GROWTH

1998
0.99
0.88
1.56
0.55
1.54
-0.35
1.59
0.27
1.05
1999
1.14
1.05
1.56
0.55
1.48
-0.11
1.50
0.79
1.15
2000
1.17
1.17
1.72
0.48
1.34
0.00
1.47
0.92
1.20
2001
1.37
1.34
1.89
0.44
1.42
0.08
1.13
1.30
1.36
2002
0.90
1.09
2.26
0.46
1.23
0.17
0.45
0.69
1.17
2003
0.79
1.24
2.30
0.56
1.44
0.94
-0.16
0.41
1.22

Source: Australian Demographic Statistics (3101.0).


In 2002-03 Queensland and Tasmania recorded net interstate migration gains. Queensland continued a 20-year trend of positive net interstate migration, whereas 2002-03 was the first year since 1991 that Tasmania's net interstate migration was positive. Victoria had little net interstate migration in 2002-03, and all other states and territories experienced net losses due to interstate migration, although this was offset in most cases by growth due to natural increase and net overseas migration (table 5.18).

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