Strong population growth in NSW and WA

Strong population growth in NSW and WA

In early April the ABS released their annual population data for small geographic areas. The Estimated Resident Population (ERP) is the official measure of population and the intercensal updates give us an indication of how areas are growing and changing in the intercensal period. We already know that Australia has continued to record strong growth in the years since 2011 – and Glenn’s recent blog shows the more recent national and State data, so what are the highlights of this current release of population data?

Key facts

At .id we know you all love lists and rankings of population data, and we’re happy to oblige. The table below shows the LGAs with the highest volume and fastest growth rates in the year 2012-13 (note – LGAs with more than 5,000 people in 2013).  Due to its size, Brisbane retains the number one rank in terms of volume of growth (20,859), but Melbourne (11,029) just pipped the Gold Coast for the silver medal position (11,028). However, Melbourne recorded by far the highest growth rate (10.5%) for the year.

Rank LGA Name State Growth (%) LGA Name State Growth (no.)
1. Melbourne VIC 10.5 Brisbane QLD 20,859
2. Derby-West Kimberley WA 6.9 Melbourne VIC 11,029
3. Serpentine-Jarrahdale WA 6.1 Gold Coast QLD 11,028
4. Wyndham VIC 6.0 Wyndham VIC 10,759
5. Armadale WA 6.0 Whittlesea VIC 9,306
6. Kwinana WA 5.8 Wanneroo WA 8,685
7. Whittlesea VIC 5.5 Moreton Bay QLD 8,625
8. Gin Gin WA 5.3 Casey VIC 7,476
9. Broome WA 5.2 Blacktown NSW 7,147
10. Northam WA 5.1 Stirling WA 6,585
11. Wanneroo WA 5.1 Logan QLD 6,561
12. Murray WA 5.0 Sunshine Coast QLD 6,104
13. Rockingham WA 5.0 Rockingham WA 5,791
14. Palmerston NT 4.9 Parramatta NSW 5,748
15. Cardinia VIC 4.8 Ipswich QLD 5,334
16. Mandurah WA 4.7 Hume VIC 5,229
17. Perth WA 4.7 Swan WA 5,116
18. Roebourne WA 4.7 Melton VIC 5,028
19. Capel WA 4.5 Townsville QLD 4,692
20. Melton VIC 4.3 Gosnells WA 4,313
  Camden NSW 4.3      
  Swan WA 4.3      

Source:  ABS, Regional Population Growth (ABS 3218.0)

One of the more notable aspects of this list is the predominance of WA LGAs…..

All guns blazing in Western Australia

In the year ended June 2013, Western Australia grew by a massive 3.3% and the volume of growth (81,300) almost eclipsed that of Queensland (88,600). At the local level this growth played out in an interesting way spatially. Except for the small council of Peppermint Grove, all other councils in metropolitan Perth grew by at least 2.0%. The fastest growing LGAs in Perth weren’t necessarily the usual suspects either – Serpentine-Jarrahdale and Armadale, both on the south east fringe, grew by 6.0% or more. Wanneroo, on the outer north, continues to record the highest volume of growth in Perth (8,625) but Stirling (6,585) and Rockingham (5,791) weren’t too far behind. House prices in Perth have increased rapidly in line with demand and growing affluence so it’s interesting to see that this rapid population growth is occurring despite the high cost of housing. While some people may be pushed out to the urban fringe in the search for affordable housing, that dynamic doesn’t explain the rapid growth occurring across the metropolitan area.

Another way of looking at how strong the growth is in WA is to consider how many LGAs are growing above the national rate of 1.8% – around half are growing at or above this amount. OK some of them are small (growth in Murchison amounted to just 4 persons or 3.3%), but anyone who has visited the west in recent years will tell you about all the construction – at .id we are well familiar with the growth dynamics of Perth’s outer suburbs due to our forecasting work.  I have a photo of a paddock in the suburb of Baldivis from late 2012 that has now been cleared, serviced, and is now home to several families.

Sydney rediscovered?

We’ve blogged previously that there are distinct spatial and numerical differences between growth in Sydney and Melbourne, but the 2013 population data shows some interesting changes in Sydney, most notably an increase in growth.  The volume of growth in the metropolitan area is at a five year high and all LGAs recorded some growth.  The fastest growing LGA in Sydney is Camden, on the south western fringe. The rate recorded in 2013 was 4.3%, a large increase on the previous year (3.8%), and well above the average over the last ten years (2.7%).  Camden has a number of new estates, such as Oran Park and Gregory Hills, which are in demand from first home buyers seeking relatively affordable housing.  The opening of the South West rail link in 2015 will continue to have an impact on outer south western Sydney due to increased accessibility, but of even greater importance will be decisions made by the State and Commonwealth Governments on the location of the second airport, and other new greenfield land release areas.

But Melbourne wins in the growth stakes

Once again Melbourne recorded the highest volume of growth in any state capital city in 2013 (95,500). The general pattern has been for strong growth on the fringe, and the inner core. This pattern is unchanged, but the order is different. The City of Melbourne recorded the highest growth rate of any LGA in Australia – 10.3% in 2013 – knocking Wyndham off its perch. This is quite phenomenal growth and is almost twice the ten year average of 5.9%. We’ve blogged previously about the large number of apartment blocks in the pipeline and as they’ve been completed, they are quickly filled with households. And the pipeline is still quite full – there are several more apartments nearing completion and this will continue to influence the growth rate of the City in the next few years. Have a look at .id’s forecast for the City of Melbourne, completed in 2012, for our view of future development.

Other interesting stuff

Some other key trends we’ve noticed are as follows –

  • mining communities in northern WA continue to show strong growth. This suggests that there is a growth in the permanent population if the ERP has increased. Derby-West Kimberley may only be small but it’s population reached 10,000 in 2013 on a the back of a growth rate of 6.9%, the second highest in the country.
  • but it’s not just mining driving growth outside of Perth – Gin Gin and Northam grew strongly, but are also located within commuting distance of Perth, and are regions with high amenity and tourism that may be influencing growth. Capel, situated just outside the regional centre of Bunbury, grew by 4.5% during 2013. This LGA has long recorded strong growth due to demand and lifestyle factors.  These communities may be small in size but this rapid growth creates challenges for urban planning and service provision.
  • coastal growth continues to be patchy across the country. While some LGAs continue to record strong growth, it would be incorrect to assume that all coastal LGAs are growing strongly. The lower south coast (Eurobodalla and Bega Valley) has recorded a slow down in growth over the last five years. Our population forecasting work in NSW suggests that the strong growth rates of the 1980s and 1990s may not be replicated in the future.
  • peri-urban areas around Melbourne and Geelong are growing strongly – Golden Plains (3.5%), Mitchell (3.4%) and Moorabool (3.3%) all recording growth rates well above their ten year average.
  • most inland agricultural regions continue to record population decline, maintaining the long term trend. Most of western Victoria continues to lose population, and generally only those LGAs with larger towns grew, albeit modestly eg Horsham, Mildura and Warrnambool. While popular perception appears to centre around debates around servicing population growth, population decline arguably presents greater challenges, for example, servicing a sparsely settled, but small population base.

The annual release of population data at the LGA level provides a great deal of information about urban and regional change at the local level. For more information, please refer to the data release page on the ABS website for more insights into Australia’s growing and changing population.

Visit our online demographic resource centre to understand the changing population of your city. If you enjoyed this article, you may wish to subscribe to our blog or newsletter and keep up-to-date with the latest demographic and population trends.


Simone - Myth Buster

Simone has a rich background in human geography, demography and urban planning – a background that was useful in her previous roles in the Commonwealth and State Governments, and now as part of the forecast team at .id. From the Queensland coast to the southern suburbs of Perth, Simone produces population and dwelling forecasts that help local governments make informed decisions about future service and planning needs. She is a regular contributor to .id’s blog and has spoken at several conferences on how our cities and regions are changing. She is a big advocate of evidence-based planning and how Census and other data can inform this. Outside of work Simone is a keen traveller and photographer – interests that tie in well with her professional life and help her to understand “place”.

Leave a Reply