3218.0 - Regional Population Growth, Australia and New Zealand, 2003-04  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 23/03/2005   
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For Australia, this publication contains estimates of the resident population of Statistical Local Areas (SLAs), Local Government Areas (LGAs), Statistical Subdivisions (SSDs), Statistical Divisions (SDs), Statistical Districts and states and territories at June 1999, 2003 and 2004, according to the 2004 edition of the Australian Standard Geographical Classification (ASGC). Growth rates for these areas are also provided. Estimates for 1999 are final estimates, based on results of the 2001 Census of Population and Housing, while estimates for 2003 are revised and estimates for 2004 are preliminary.

For New Zealand, this publication contains final estimates of the resident population of Regional Councils and Territorial Authorities at June 1999 and preliminary estimates for 2003 and 2004, based on results of the New Zealand 2001 Census of Population and Dwellings. Growth rates for these areas are also provided.


In previous issues analysis of small area population change (in percentage terms) and rankings of growth in Tables 1 to 7 have excluded SLAs and LGAs with populations smaller than 1,000 people. Due to the inherent imprecision of small area population estimates, in this issue areas with populations of less than 2,000 people have been excluded from analysis and rankings according to percentage growth/decrease.


In commentary based on statistics in this publication, it is recommended that the relevant statistics be rounded. Small area population estimates are the result of mathematical modelling and are subject to error. While unrounded figures are provided in tables, accuracy to the last digit is not claimed and should not be assumed. No reliance should be placed on statistics with small values.


For further information about these and related statistics, contact the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070 or Matthew Montgomery on Canberra (02) 6252 6487.



  • Australia's estimated resident population (ERP) at June 2004 was 20.1 million, an increase of 238,700 people compared with June 2003. This represents an annual growth rate of 1.2%, the same as the average annual growth rate for the five years to June 2004.
  • All states and territories experienced population growth in 2003-04, with the largest increases occurring in Queensland (up 81,000 people), Victoria (up 61,400 people) and New South Wales (up 49,200 people).
  • Queensland and Western Australia were the only two states to record annual growth rates greater than Australia overall in 2003-04. Queensland's population increased by 2.1% while Western Australia's increased by 1.7%.
  • Victoria's growth rate for 2003-04 of 1.2% was the same as Australia overall. The remaining states and territories recorded lower annual growth rates than Australia, with the population of Tasmania increasing by 1.0%, New South Wales and the Northern Territory each increasing by 0.7%, South Australia by 0.5%, and the Australian Capital Territory by 0.2%.
SLA POPULATION CHANGE, Australia - 2003-04
Map: SLA POPULATION CHANGE, Australia - 2003-04

  • It is important to recognise that sub-state/territory population estimates in this publication are produced using mathematical models and are subject to error. Caution should be exercised when using the estimates, especially for areas with very small populations. For more information see paragraphs 7 to 12 of the Explanatory Notes.

  • At June 2004 capital city Statistical Divisions (SDs) were home to 12.8 million people, around two-thirds (64%) of Australia's population. The combined population of capital city SDs increased by 153,700 people in 2003-04, accounting for 64% of Australia's growth for the year.
  • Melbourne SD recorded the largest growth of capital cities in 2003-04, increasing 44,800 people, followed by Brisbane SD (up 39,700 people) and Sydney SD (up 33,500 people).
  • Brisbane SD was the fastest growing capital city in Australia in 2003-04, increasing by 2.3%, followed by Perth SD (up 1.8%) and the Melbourne and Darwin SDs (each up 1.3%).
  • Population growth in the Sydney SD in 2003-04 equated to an average increase of 640 people per week. Other large capital cities such as Melbourne increased at an average of 860 people per week, Brisbane 760 per week and Perth 500 per week.

Outer suburban growth
  • Large increases in population continue to occur in many outer Local Government Areas (LGAs) of capital city SDs. In Sydney SD, the LGAs of Blacktown (C), Baulkham Hills (A), and Liverpool (C) experienced large growth (up 5,500, 3,500 and 2,300 people respectively), while in Melbourne SD the fringe LGAs of Casey (C), Wyndham (C) and Melton (S) increased by 8,700, 8,400 and 5,900 people respectively.
  • Outer suburban areas in the smaller capital cities also experienced significant growth, such as occurred in the Brisbane Statistical Local Areas (SLAs) of Parkinson-Drewvale and Doolandella-Forest Lake. In South Australia the outer suburban LGA of Salisbury (C) recorded the largest population increase in the state, while in Perth the LGAs of Wanneroo (C), Rockingham (C), Gosnells (C) and Cockburn (C) experienced large growth. Kingborough (M), to the south of Hobart, recorded the second largest increase in population of Tasmanian LGAs, while Palmerston (C), on the outskirts of Darwin, recorded the second largest growth of any Northern Territory LGA. Of SLAs in the Australian Capital Territory, Gungahlin-Hall - SSD Bal and Amaroo, on the northern fringe of Canberra, and Dunlop, to the north-west, experienced the largest growth.

Inner city growth
  • Many of Australia's inner city areas experienced high levels of growth during 2003-04. Perth (C) recorded the fastest growth rate of all LGAs in Australia, with a 12.1% increase, while the population of the adjacent LGA of Subiaco (C) increased by 3.6%. Melbourne (C) recorded an annual growth rate of 6.4%, the population of Adelaide (C) increased by 4.6%, and Sydney (C) increased by 3.6%. Elsewhere in Australia, other inner city areas to experience high levels of growth were the Brisbane SLAs of City - Remainder, City - Inner, South Brisbane and Newstead, the Darwin SLA of Stuart Park, and the Canberra SLAs of Turner and Braddon.

  • Generally, the largest growth outside capital city SDs occurred in coastal Australia. Gold Coast (C) in Queensland recorded the second largest increase in population of all LGAs in Australia during 2003-04 (up 13,200 people), behind Brisbane which increased by 17,600 people, while strong growth continued in many other Queensland coastal areas such as Pine Rivers (S), Maroochy (S) and Caloundra (C).
  • In New South Wales, increases in population were recorded in most coastal LGAs outside the Sydney SD, with the largest occurring in Tweed (A), Newcastle (C) and Hastings (A), while the Victorian LGA of Bass Coast (S) continued to experience strong growth in 2003-04. In South Australia, the populations of Alexandrina (DC) and Victor Harbor (C) continued to grow, and in Western Australia the coastal LGAs of Mandurah (C), Busselton (S), Capel (S) and Augusta-Margaret River (S) experienced continuing strong growth.

  • Various regional centres throughout Australia continued to gain population during 2003-04, such as the New South Wales LGAs of Maitland (C) and Greater Queanbeyan (C), the statistical district of Albury-Wodonga on the New South Wales/Victorian border, the Victorian LGAs of Greater Geelong (C), Greater Bendigo (C) and Ballarat (C), and the Queensland LGA of Toowoomba (C). A number of coastal regional centres, such as Cairns (C) and Townsville (C) in Queensland and Port Lincoln (C) in South Australia, also experienced growth in 2003-04.

  • The largest decline in population in 2003-04 occurred in the Melbourne LGA of Banyule (C), which decreased by 680 people, followed by the Sydney LGA of Fairfield (C) which decreased by 650 people. Hobsons Bay (C) in Melbourne and Penrith (C) in Sydney recorded the third and fourth largest decreases in population, down 560 and 550 people respectively.
  • Of LGAs with populations greater than 2,000 people at June 2003, all of the twenty fastest decreasing LGAs in Australia in 2003-04 were located in state and territory balances (that is, those areas outside the capital city SDs), and all of the seven fastest decreasing LGAs were located in the balance of Western Australia. The population of Coolgardie (S) recorded the highest rate of population decline in 2003-04, decreasing by 6.8%, followed by Merredin (S) (down 4.7%) and Carnarvon (S) and Katanning (S) (each down 4.1%).