3222.7 - Population Projections, Northern Territory, 1999 to 2021  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 25/07/2001   
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This publication contains population projections for the Northern Territory by Statistical Division (SD) and major urban areas for the period 1999 to 2021 and by Statistical Subdivision (SSD) and Statistical Local Area (SLA) for the period 1999 to 2011, 2016 and 2021.

A combination of assumptions of future levels of births, deaths and migration is used to illustrate the possible size, structure and distribution of the Northern Territory's population over the next 20 years. Three series are produced. In summary, Series A (high) assumes high fertility, high net overseas migration and high net internal migration, Series B (medium) assumes low fertility, medium net overseas migration and medium net internal migration and Series C (low) assumes low fertility, low net overseas migration and low net internal migration.


The Northern Territory's population is projected to grow in all three series, from 192,700 in 1999 to between 227,700 and 308,700 in 2021.



Capital city/balance

The populations of both the Darwin SD and Northern Territory - Bal SD are projected to increase over the next 20 years. The population of Darwin SD could grow from 103,500 in 1999 to between 126,500 and 184,500 in 2021, while the population of Northern Territory - Balance SD is projected to increase from 89,300 to between 101,200 and 124,100 over the same period. By 2021 it is projected that between 56% and 60% of the Northern Territory's population will be living in Darwin SD, compared to 54% in 1999.

New township of Weddell

A new township called Weddell is expected to be formed as Darwin and Palmerston near capacity. Population growth in Weddell is projected to begin as early as 2009 or as late as 2019, depending on the series used, and Weddell could reach a population of between 2,900 and 27,700 by 2021.

Major urban areas

Most of the major urban areas within the Northern Territory are projected to grow, although some areas are projected to experience relatively static population or a slight decline under one or more series.

The population of Darwin City SSD is projected to experience some growth in Series A, increasing from 68,400 in 1999 to 83,000 in 2021; however, in Series B population growth is almost static, reaching 72,300 by 2021, while in Series C the population declines to 60,500. The current trend of population decline in the northern suburbs accompanied by renewal in the inner city suburbs is projected to continue to a varying degree, depending on the series used. In contrast, the population of Palmerston-East Arm SSD is expected to double from 19,600 in 1999 to between 36,600 and 42,000 in 2021. This rapid growth is due to Palmerston LGA in particular absorbing much of the population increase in the Darwin SD.

Litchfield Shire SSD is also projected to experience strong growth during the projection period, increasing from 15,400 in 1999 to between 29,400 and 59,500 in 2021. Growth in the later years of the projection period reflects the emergence of the new township of Weddell.

Katherine LGA and Tennant Creek LGA are both projected to experience slow growth. Katherine LGA could grow from 9,900 in 1999 to between 11,400 and 13,800 in 2021, while Tennant Creek LGA could increase from 3,900 to between 4,100 and 5,200 over the same period.

The population of Nhulunbuy SLA is projected to decline slowly from 3,600 in 1999 to between 2,900 and 3,500 in 2021.

The population of Alice Springs LGA is projected to grow steadily in Series A and B, increasing from 25,500 in 1999 to between 27,600 and 30,900 in 2021. In Series C, the population is almost static, declining slowly to 25,200 by 2021.


Throughout the 1990s, the Northern Territory experienced a high population growth with an average annual growth rate of 1.8%, compared to the national average of 1.2%. Growth rates of this magnitude are projected to continue only in Series A where population growth ranges between 2.0% and 2.5% during the projection period. This growth is sustained by a relatively high level of fertility combined with high net overseas and interstate migration. In Series B, the Northern Territory's average annual growth rate declines slowly and varies between 1.3% and 1.7% during the projection period, while in Series C it declines more sharply and varies between 0.6% and 1.7%.

Capital city/balance

In Series A, Darwin SD experiences an average annual growth rate which peaks at 3.1% in 2004 then declines to 2.4% by 2021. In Series B and C, Darwin SD experiences a more rapid decline in growth rate, declining from 2.3% in 1999 to 1.6% and 0.7% respectively in 2021. In contrast, Northern Territory - Bal SD experiences slower rates of growth than Darwin SD. In Series A and Series B the annual growth rate for Northern Territory - Bal SD peaks at 1.7% and 1.2% respectively in 2004, then gradually declines to 1.5% and 0.9% respectively by 2021. In Series C, the growth rate declines from 0.9% to 0.5% during the projection period.


The Northern Territory's population will continue to age but at a slower rate than Australia's population as a whole. The median age of the Northern Territory's population is projected to increase from 28.6 years in 1999 to between 31.9 and 32.7 years in 2021. In contrast, the median age of Australians is projected to increase more rapidly, rising from 34.9 years in 1999 to between 40.3 and 41.5 years in 2021.

The proportion of the population aged 14 years and under is projected to decline from 26% in 1999 to 22-23% by 2021, while the proportion of the population aged 15-64 years is expected to increase from 70% in 1999 to 70-72% over the same period. In contrast, the proportion of the population aged 65 years and over is projected to double from 3% in 1999 to 6-7% by 2021.