Population could double by 2056
INTERNATIONAL migration of more than 22% pushed Australia's population up 1.6% in the year to June, a rate which if continued could see the nation's population double by 2056.
Figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics in December showed the nation's population reached 22,683,600 people in June last year.
That included a rise of more than 359,000 people between June 2011 and June 2012, chiefly a result of the 22.3% rise in overseas migration, or 208,300 extra immigrants.
If population growth continued at a rate of 1.6% into the future, Australia's population could reach about 45 million by 2056 - more than 10 million more than current ABS predictions out to 2050.
Sustainable Population Australia member Jenny Goldie, in an article for Online Opinion, argues that such a rise needs to be prevented, in part by halving immigration and an end to the baby bonus for couples to have more than two children.
She wrote that even if the nation's population did not grow at 1.6% for the whole period, the average of ABS growth projections still put the population at around 39 million by 2050 and up to 54 million in 2101.
"The next 20 years will be different from the last 20 (years)," the article reads.
"A smaller population will find it easier to adapt to the coming crises of climate change and higher oil prices."
Ms Goldie wrote that the combined effects of climate change, oil prices, global food demand and the comparative lack of arable farm land in Australia meant the continent had limits on how many people it could support.
"As a first step, we have to get our growth rate under 1% as soon as we can," she wrote.
"That means no more than 230,000 extra people annually, not the 360,000 we have now.
"That means 130,000 fewer people each year - and we have to do it now."
While Prime Minister Julia Gillard has voiced her support for sustainable population policies, the migration rate has continued to rise as a share of growth, to 58% of growth, compared with 53% the previous year.
Domestically, more people were moving to Queensland than any other state in the year to June 2012, with 11,800 people looking for sunshine, closely followed by Western Australia where 11,100 people arrived.
Other states and territories which were popular for an interstate move were Victoria, which had 1200 extra people, and the Australian Capital Territory, with 700 people moving there.
Australians were also moving out of New South Wales, to the tune of 18,400 people, Tasmania at 2600, South Australia at 2400 and the Northern Territory at 1500 people.
State and territory populations at June 30, 2012:
- New South Wales 7,290,300
- Victoria 5,623,500
- Queensland 4,560,100
- Western Australia 2,430,300
- South Australia 1,654,800
- Tasmania 512,000
- Northern Territory 234,800
- Australian Capital Territory 374,700
SOURCE Australian Bureau of Statistics.