23 April 2013

Australian immigration pushes population growth past milestone

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Current rates of Australian immigration will see the country's population surpass 23 million people later today.

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The population of Australia is expected to pass 23 million today.

Government estimates have predicted that the country's population will reach 23 million people at some point today. While the rise has been attributed in some part due to an increase in the average family size, Australian immigration has been cited as the main reason.

Demographer Mark McCrindle, speaking to ABC news today, said Australia's birth rate is due to exceed 300,000 births for the first time this year. However, this is not due to an increase in more women having children, but individual women having more children.

The 23rd million Australian is predicted to be born slightly before 10pm today; statistians claim the odds predict he will be a boy named Jack, born in Western Sydney to a 31-year-old mother and a 33-year-old father.

Yet despite the increase in births setting its own milestone, Mr McCrindle says it is immigration which has played the biggest single part in the country reaching the 23 million mark.

"Despite the strength in birds, that's taken a little bit of a back seat, and the increase at the moment is all about net migration," Mr McCrindle said.

"The proportion of net migration to our population growth has increased from 54% a year ago to now 60% of our growth - just 40% through the natural increase."

The demographer said that Australia, despite traditionally always having a net inflow of migrants, now has the fastest growing population in the developed world.

"We can say that Australia has world-beating population growth right now. The world is growing 1.1% per annum and Australia, at 1.7%, is really out in front.

"And when you compare us to comparable developed nations, we really are ahead of the comparison."

Australia's population growth translates to 1048 people per day; in comparison, the US is growing at 0.9% per year and the UK just 0.6%. Even India's population growth of just 1.4% is surpassed by Australia's rapid growth.

Bob Birrell, from Monash University's Centre for Population and Urban Research, said favourable economic conditions in Australia combined with welcoming immigration policies made Australia an attractive prospect for people from all over the world.

"Working holiday makers, visitors, 457 visa holders, New Zealanders - they have all been going up sharply," said Dr Birrell.

"There is no cap on working holiday makers and we are a very attractive destination now for people from Ireland, Taiwan, England, where the labour markets are dead."

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