Populations only change because of three drivers of change: births, deaths and migration.
This focus on overseas migration, particularly how bad it is for Sydney and Melbourne,
The December communiqué from COAG that called for the Treasurers’ population meeting
For small populations, this is not just about skills, it’s about population survival. In Sydney and Melbourne, we see a different situation. Even if NOM was lower, the cities would continue to grow.
When we talk about migration, we often assume it is people coming from overseas. But internal migration also drives growth in some areas. In Sydney, Baulkham Hills and Hawkesbury (the SA4 asdefined by the ABS) had 1,900 more people move to the area during 2016-17 from elsewhere in Australia than left.
Even in areas where there is overall net internal migration loss, like Sydney’s City and Inner South, there are significant internal migration gains in the 15-24 year age group. This movement of people coming to Sydney for university and early job opportunities creates a particular type of population growth, and demand on housing and infrastructure. These internal migration movements are an important part of the national population debate.
Overseas migration interacts with internal migration. In the Hunter region for example, the 2016 Census showed a net gain of almost 17,000 people moving to the Hunter region from elsewhere in Australia. Of this group, 15% were born overseas. And of the overseas born, over half arrived in Australia before 1995. In contrast, Liverpool had internal migration gains of almost 31,000 people between 2011 and 2016. Just over a third were born overseas, with about 70% moving to Australia before 2006.
Overseas migration then has long-term implications, both at the time people arrive and also as they move throughout the country.
The COAG call for creation of a population framework recognised that it needs to recognise the needs of local communities. But these needs vary and there is no one response to population planning. Understanding the complexity of population dynamics and the long-term impacts of changes from one generation to the next, can inform a debate based on evidence.
If you want to be part of an informed debate, join the Astrolabe Masterclass, “Making People Count” on 20 February 2019.