Who will win the race to be Australia’s number 1 capital city?

Matthew - Team Forecast

Matthew is at the forefront of land, housing and population forecasting in Australia. As the developer of .id’s forecasting models and an author of .id’s e-books, he is a sought-after and entertaining presenter, and an inspiring consultant. He provides comprehensive insights into the migration, housing and land use changes that drive population and age structure change at the neighbourhood level. Matthew has had a profound influence on .id’s thinking about how we understand cities and regions. Matthew is currently heading a team developing micro-geography forecasts for the whole of Australia.

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2 Responses

  1. Alex says:

    Thanks for the interesting blog post Matthew. I note that in the graph above that Greater Melbourne will match Greater Sydney in 2022 but I read in ABS forecasts that this will currently be around 2037. Are you able to check that? I was also wondering though why the ABS would include Central Coast as part of the Greater Sydney metro area, but not include Wollongong which is actually physically closer and with a similar percentage of workers commuting to Sydney as well? I asked this question in another post but that didn’t get a response so thought I would raise it here.

  2. Matthew Deacon says:

    Hi Alex, This ‘race’ is obviously a complicated one. Where you draw the boundary of the Metropolitan Areas is extremely problematic and for competitive and marketing reasons, quite important. When the ABS moved to the new geographic standard in 2011 (the ASGS), Greater Melbourne was extended to include parts of Moorabool, the Macedon Ranges and Mitchell Shires. Many of these areas have been economically dependant on Melbourne for growth for decades. Meanwhile, Greater Sydney remained the same (Central Coast included). For at least a couple of years now, Greater Melbourne would already be larger than Sydney without the Central Coast.

    The basis for inclusion into the Metropolitan area is usually based on its economic connectivity / dependence. I would say that Wollongong is functionally still a separate place to Sydney. The data from the Census shows that about two-thirds of Wollongong residents work in the City of Wollongong and about 75% somewhere in the Illawarra, although I know that places like Helensburgh and northern suburbs of Wollongong like Bulli are much more interconnected. In the Central Coast, the numbers are actually quite similar, with 68.4% of the population working in the area. This certainly lends weight to your argument that it should not be counted as part of Sydney. Only 42.7% of Blue Mountains residents work in the City, with just on half working somewhere in Metro Sydney. So perhaps we should suggest that the Central Coast should become part of ‘regional NSW’.

    If we assume the boundaries are set as they are, what are the current growth prospects of both cities. We are still waiting to update our NSW forecasts and most likely Sydney will increase in numbers as a result of the review. If you look at the last decade, Melbourne has cut the difference in population from just on half a million to only 281,000 in 2017. If the growth rates were similar for the next decade, Melbourne would exceed Sydney by around 2026. This would be about consistent with how I would expect our NSW /Sydney forecasts to change when reviewed.

    Cheers Matthew

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