Australia’s population is set to hit 25million this week, 33 years earlier than was predicted just two decades ago – and most of the growth is down to overseas migrants.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, mass migration and an unexpectedly high number of births have led to the surge, with net overseas migration accounting for 62 per cent of it alone.
While the ABS’ official population clock is yet to hit 25million, it was predicted to reach the record number on Tuesday night, with the population increasing by one person every 83 seconds.
One of the biggest migrant groups was found to be Chinese – as well as British, Kiwi and Indian – with eight per cent of the growth coming from migrants moving from China. In fact, in 2016, a huge 28 per cent of Aussies were born overseas.
Australia’s immigration policies have long been subject to widespread debate between politicians and the wider public. Just recently, entrepreneur Dick Smith called for a major cull in immigration.
Speaking on radio station 2GB at the time, the 74-year-old said the last thing the country needs is more people.
“At the present growth rate we are going to end up at 100 million at the end of the century when many of our grandkids will still be alive and most people agree that 100 million is a crazy number for Australia – it will probably mean a lot of poor people will never, ever have a job,” he said.
“There has been no discussion with the Australian public about this, there hasn’t been a proper plan, but I know why politicians do this – both parties are supporting this three times increase in migration because it looks as if the country is growing, they always talk about growth.”
Back in 1998 – when it was predicted Australia wouldn’t reach this level until 2051 – it was also believed net migration would sit at between 70 and 90 thousand per annum. However, in the last 12 months, 232,000 people were welcomed into the country – three times the predictions made two decades ago.
According to Smith the consequences will be devastating to Australia society.
“It’s got nothing to do with racism, it’s about thinking of our children and grandchildren and all Australians and the chance they have to a proper job,” he said.
“We are going to completely destroy the way of life as we know it today. I cannot believe that one of the major parties wouldn’t reflect what eight out of 10 people want.”
However, immigration minister Peter Dutton has defended the government’s immigration policies in the past, and despite claims he was considering a cull in April, he later confirmed the numbers were there to stay.
He tweeted at the time: “I have made it clear over recent weeks that I support the current level of migration. As the PM and I have said repeatedly; our migration program acts in the national interest by maintaining the same proportions of skilled and unskilled entrants as previous Coalition Governments.”
I have made it clear over recent weeks that I support the current level of migration. As the PM and I have said repeatedly; our migration program acts in the national interest by maintaining the same proportions of skilled and unskilled entrants as previous Coalition Governments.
— Peter Dutton (@PeterDutton_MP) April 9, 2018
Meanwhile, Australia now has an older population than it did in the past. In 1901, the median age (the age at which half the population is older and half is younger) was 22.5, rising to 27.5 years by 1970. Now, it has risen dramatically to 37.3 years in 2017.
Melbourne is almost at 5 million, while Victoria had 82,105 births last year — about 6,000 more than in 2012.
In fact, over the last three years, the overall population has grown by around 400,000 people per year. With that in mind, the ABS predicts we could hit 26,000 within two to four years.