3218.0 - Regional Population Growth, Australia, 2012-13 Quality Declaration 
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 03/04/2014   
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3 April 2014
Embargoed: 11.30 am Canberra Time

Capital cities: past, present and future

Capital cities packed in more than three times as many new residents as the rest of Australia in the year to June 2013, according to population estimates released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

Today's release also explores how capital cities have grown over the past 40 years, and are projected to grow over the next 40.

"In 2013, two in three (66 per cent) Australians lived in a capital city, a slight increase since 1973 when 65 per cent lived in a capital. By 2053, this share is projected to increase to 72 per cent" said ABS Director of Demography, Denise Carlton. "That equates to 28 million people living in the capitals in 2053."

In the last 40 years, 89 per cent of the growth in capitals occurred in the four largest cities (Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth), with Perth and Brisbane more than doubling in population. Darwin had the highest growth rate (191 per cent) of all capital cities. In contrast, Hobart grew by 36 per cent.

Sydney and Melbourne each grew by almost 1.7 million people between 1973 and 2013, although the overall growth rate for Melbourne was higher (62 per cent increase compared with 54 per cent). This reflects Melbourne's comparatively higher growth rates in recent years. If current trends prevail, Melbourne is projected to overtake Sydney to become Australia's largest capital city by 2053.

Of the four largest capitals, Perth has seen the fastest growth over the past 40 years. Perth has grown by around 1.2 million people since 1973, exceeding Adelaide's population in 1984. While Brisbane has grown by a similar number of people, Perth is growing at a faster rate and is projected to overtake Brisbane in 2028.

"Currently, Perth and Darwin are the fastest-growing capital cities. Between 2012 and 2013, Perth grew fastest (3.5 per cent), followed by Darwin (3 per cent), Melbourne (2.2 per cent) and Brisbane (2.1 per cent)," said Ms Carlton.

To find out more about how the capital cities have grown, and for further information on regional population change, see Regional Population Growth, Australia (cat. no. 3218.0).

Video: A short video about how regional populations have changed between 2012 and 2013 will be available from 12:30pm - Click to watch.

Media notes:
  • When reporting ABS data you must attribute the Australian Bureau of Statistics (or the ABS) as the source.
  • Capital cities mentioned in this release are Greater Capital City Statistical Areas, as defined in the Australian Statistical Geography Standard.
  • Population projections are not predictions or forecasts, but are illustrations of the change in population which would occur if certain assumptions about future levels of fertility, mortality, internal migration and overseas migration were to prevail over the projection period. Projections mentioned in this release are based on assumptions under the medium growth scenario. For more information, see Population Projections, Australia (cat. no. 3222.0).
  • Media request and interviews - contact the ABS Communications Section on 1300 175 070.