Source: The Ausralian, 15 July, 1998, p.1


Year 2051: Top End booms, deep south sinks

 
 
MICHELLE GUNN 
Social affairs writer 
 
THE year is 2051 and Australia 
has a population of 24.9 million. 
Sydney remains our biggest 
city, with more than 5.2 million 
people, but other parts of the 
nation have seen dramatic 
change. 
 
The Northern Territory has 
more than doubled its popu- 
lation in the past 50 years and 
now has more residents than 
Tasmania or the Australian 
Capital Territory. 
 
Queensland overtook Vic- 
toria in 2030 as the country's 
second-most populous State 
but Melbourne still retains its 
position as the second-largest 
capital, with 4 million people to 
Brisbane's 2.9 million. 
 
Tasmania, meanwhile, has 
lost 35 per cent of its popu- 
lation since 1997 and now has 
just 309,700 people, almost a 
third of whom are aged 65 
years or older. 
 
This futuristic snapshot of 
the nation is one of three likely 
scenarios presented in a new 
 
Australian Bureau of Stat- 
istics publication, Population 
Projections 1997 to 2051. 
 
The publication uses a series 
of assumptions about 
migration, fertility and mor- 
tality rates to project the 
nature of Australia's popu- 
lation into next century. 
 
Using mid-range projec- 
tions, the Northern Territory, 
Western Austraba and 
Queensland are predicted to 
grow strongly, at the expense 
of Victoria, NSW, Tasmania 
and South Australia. 
 
Tasmania and South Aust 
ralia can expect to lose popu- 
lation over the 50-year period. 
 
The age structure of the 
population will also change 
profoundly, with a quarter of 
Australians aged 65 and over 
by 2051, compared with just 12 
per cent today. 
 
At the other end of the 
spectrum, there will be 2.6 
million 5- to 14-year-olds in 
2050-the same number as in 
1997. 
 
School-age children will thus 
make up a much smaller pro- 
portion of the population than 
they do now. 
 
All this assumes a fall in the 
fertility rate to 1.75 births per 
woman by 2005-6, after which it 
remains constant; annual net 
overseas migration of 70,000 
from 1998-99; and medium 
internal migration. 
 
Under a 1.75 fertility rate 
and high overseas migration 
(90,000 a year), Australia in 2051 
could have 26.4 million people 
and Sydney could boast a 
population of more than 6 
million.


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