Source: The Australian, 15 July, 1998, p.4
MICHELLE GUNN Social affairs writer A POLICY of zero net migration, promoted by Pau- line Hanson's One Nation party, would see Australia's population begin to decline from the late 2020s, according to figures released yesterday by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Under One Nation's sug- gested reforms, the population would grow to about 20 million over the next 25 years, before falling to between 18.3 million and 19.5 million in 2051. But even if current immi- gration levels are maintained, there will be no population explosion. Instead, the population will grow to between 23.5 million and 26.4 million by 2051, from 18.5 million in 1997, before stagnating or starting to decline. Under this scenario, Aust- ralia's growth rate by the mid- dle of next century will be between 0 and 0.3 per cent- rates not seen since European settlement. Population Projections 1997 to 2051 uses a series of assump- tions about births, deaths and migration to project the size, structure and distribution of the population well into the next century. It comes at a time when population growth and immi- gration policy are being fiercely debated around the country. Yesterday, the West Aust- ralian Department of Environmental Protection entered the fray, calling for State population controls to curb environmental damage. The ABS publication shows every 1000 net overseas migrants a year adds about 77,000 to the total Australian population by 2051, although the level varies according to the fertility and mortality of these migrants. Fertility levels are import ant, with each shift in the total fertility rate of 0.1 births per woman changing the pro- jected population for 2050 by about a million people. Aust ralia's total fertility rate dropped below 1.8 births per woman in 1996 and the ABS has assumed that it will con- tinue to fall to between 1.6 and 1.75 births per woman, before levelling out. Some countries already have far lower birth rates, with Greece, Hong Kong and Italy all recording 1.3 births per woman or lower. International comparisons also reveal that Australia's projected growth rate (of up to 42 per cent) up to 2051 is far lower than the world average (72 per cent). There is a widening gap between Australia and South East Asian neighbours such as Indonesia and Malaysia. Mid- range projections from the UN show Indonesia's population, already 10 times that of Aust- ralia, could increase to almost 319 million, or 12 times our projected population, by 2050. Malaysia, currently about the same size as Australia, could almost double the num- ber of its citizens to 38 million in the same time frame. On the other side of the equation, New Zealand is expected to grow by just 31 per cent to 4.7 million, and coun tries such as Japan and Ger- many are expected to decline below 1995 levels of 125.1 and 81.6 million, respectively. Indigenous population rate races FIONA CARRUTHERS THE indigenous population is younger and growing faster than the rest of the nation- and could, reach 650,000 by 2006, compared with 386,000 at the 1996 Census. Australian Bureau of Stat- istics population projection fig- ures show the indigenous popu- lation's present median age of 20 is also substantially younger than the median age of 34 for the total Australian population. By 2006, people under 15 are expected to comprise 37 per- cent of the indigenous popu- lation and the median age is expected to increase only slightly, to 21 years. However, the indigenous population continues to suffer low life expectancy rates, with males expected to live until 57 and women until 62- thus, dying almost 20 years younger than the rest of the population. The ABS population projec- tions find the indigenous popu- lation is increasing on average by 2 per cent each year based on natural "fertility and mortality" trends. This compares with the growth rate for the total popu- lation of 1.2 per cent. However, if an increase in indigenous identification-on the rise since 1991-is factored in, the average annual growth rate for the indigenous popu lation jumps to 5.3 per cent. On this rate, ABS predicts the population could reach just under 650,000 by 2006. On the 2 per cent growth projection, it would reach 469,000 by 2006. It is estimated Queensland and NSW will have the largest indigenous populations by 2006 (133,000 each), followed by Western Australia (67,000), the Northern Territory (61,000), South Australia and Victoria (27,000 each), Tasmania (18,000) and the ACT (4000).
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