Low growth for NSW

5 October 2011

NSWs modest rate of population growth has been outstripped by the other key states and projections suggest the trend will continue, according to new figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) today. The Urban Taskforces chief executive, Aaron Gadiel, said that NSWs annual rate of population growth is half that of Western Australia and trails Victoria and Queensland.

In the 12 months to March this year the population of Western Australia grew by 2.2 per cent, the ACT by 1.8 per cent, Queensland by 1.6 per cent, Victoria by 1.5 per cent, NSW by 1.1 per cent, South Australia by 0.8 per cent, Tasmania by 0.6 per cent and the Northern Territory grew by 0.4 per cent.

Its clear that Victoria and Queenslands ready supply of housing have drawn people away from NSW, Mr Gadiel said. Western Australia is clearly winning more people because of its strong employment opportunities.

NSW is losing out on both counts, so it comes as no surprise that the states growth figures continue to be lacklustre.

Mr Gadiel said that the ABS also released state-by-state population projections today.

Sydney is projected to grow at between 1.1 and 1.3 per cent a year, on average, up to 2021, he said.

This compares with Melbourne, which is projected to grow at between 1.3 per cent and 1.8 per cent.

Brisbanes growth is projected to range from 1.8 per cent a year, to 2.5 per cent, while Perths projections are between 2 per cent and 2.5 per cent a year.

These figures tell us that Sydney is expected to grow at very modest levels, compared to the nations other key cities.

Nonetheless, these modest growth rates will still mean that Sydney will need housing for another 600,000 people, with the current 4.5 million population likely to increase to 5.1 million by 2021.

Sydney is simply not producing enough new homes to accommodate even this low level of population growth. In fact, no capital city produces less new homes per capita than Sydney.

The NSW government and local councils need to tackle the systematic problems in our planning system which is preventing our housing supply from meeting the communitys clear need.

Mr Gadiel said that the ABS was projecting average annual population growth in regional NSW ranging from 0.5 to 1.2 per cent.

Regional NSWs population – currently 2.6 million – is projected to grow by between 120,000 and 340,000 people by 2021.

That may seem a lot, but in truth very little, compared to projected growth rates for regional communities elsewhere in Australia.

Regional Victoria projected to grow at 0.8 per cent a year, while regional Queensland is projected to grow between 1.6 and 2.4 per cent a year.

The low-growth NSW disease is infecting both Sydney and regional NSW alike.

If regional areas want stronger population growth, the focus shouldnt be on trying to win a greater share of Sydneys population.

Instead, government and local councils must focus on the factors that are driving people away from NSW generally. Regional NSW will grow strong when Sydney is growing strongly.

The Urban Taskforce is a property development industry group, representing Australias most prominent property developers and equity financiers.

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