Source: The Mercury, Tuesday, February 3, 1998, p.1


Shock population figures

Falls in migration and fertility create growth decline: report

By KATE HANNON
Social Issues Writer

LIKE post-war Australia,
the cry of "populate or
perish could once again
be heard around the
nation, new population
projections show.

   Australia's expected
population growth until the
middle of next century has
been drastically revised
following falls in
immigration and fertility.

   Australia's annual migrant
intake dropped by almost 20%
in 1996-97 and the nation's
fertility rate has been in
steady decline for 34 years.

   A new Federal Government
report released yesterday has
even predicted, Australia's
population growth rate could
be falling by the middle of
next century.

   With a population of more
than 18 million now,
Australia faces slow growth as
it enters the new millenium.

   Immigration Minister
Philip Ruddock said the report
and the latest settler arrival
figures, would form the basis
of community consultation on
the size of the coming year's
immigration intake.

   In Population Flows:
Immigration Aspects the
Department of Immigration
and Multicultural Affairs has
revised figures prepared three
years ago by the Australian
Bureau of Statistics.

   Then, the ABS predicted
Australia's population would
grow to between 22.5 and
23.9 million in 2021 and
between 24.9 and 28.3
million in 2051.

   This was based on the
fertility rate remaining at 1.85
and the net overseas
immigration intake remaining
at 100,000 from 1997-98.

   But the migrant intake
dropped to 94,400 in 1996-97
from 114,170 the previous
year, a decline of 17.3%.

   And since 1972, Australia's
fertility rate has followed a
worldwide trend falling to well
below about 2.7 children per
woman to 1.80 in the past
year.

   Both changes were beyond
the expectations of the ABS
back in 1995 which banked on
the fertility rate not dipping
below 1.82.

   The department says that if
the death rate rises then
combined with lower
immigration and fertility,
Australia could experience a
reversal in its population
growth.

   "A declining fertility rate,
lower net overseas migration
and a rising number of deaths
would mean that, by the
middle of next century, the
population will be growing
only very slowly and could
start to decline," the report
said.

   There was no reason
Australian women should not
follow the trend set by many
European countries where
fertility rates have now fallen
below 1.5.

   Figures released by the ABS
last year showed that the
number of deaths was
increasing in keeping the
ageing of Australia's
population.

   Meanwhile, the bulk of
Australia's settler migrants
during 1996-97 were from New
Zealand (15.2%), the United
Kingdom (11.3%), China
(9.1%), Hong Kong (4.5%)
and South Africa (3.7%).

   The department's Settler
Arrivals figures for 1996-97,
also released yesterday, show
43.4% of arrivals settled in
NSW followed by 21.3% in
Victoria, 17.1% in
Queensland, 12.3% in Western
Australia, 3.9% in South
Australia, 1.0% in the ACT,
0.6% in the Northern Territory
and 0.5% in Tasmania.


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