Australian population growth rate ‘alarmingly high’

29 June 2017

Media Releases 2017

Sustainable Population Australia Inc.

Patrons: Hon. Bob Carr, Dr Paul Collins, Prof Tim Flannery, Em Prof Ian Lowe, Dr Mary E White

Youth Ambassador: Ms Bindi Irwin

Australia’s annual population growth rate of 1.6 per cent was alarmingly high, according to Sustainable Population Australia (SPA).

Figures released on Tuesday by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) for the year ending December 2016 showed Australia’s population had increased by 372,800 to 24,385,600 people over the previous year. Net Overseas Migration (NOM) made up 209,000, or 56 per cent, of the total growth, and natural increase the rest.

SPA national president Dr James Ward says our population growth rate is more than twice the OECD average, and third only to Israel and Luxembourg.

“Australia simply cannot sustain this rate of growth,” says Dr Ward. “Much of the growth occurs in our major cities and infrastructure is not keeping pace with a consequent loss of living standards.

“Traffic congestion is lowering productivity and causing social harm through longer commuting times. Owning your own home is out of reach for average young Australians. Cramming more people into cities can’t possibly help; most young people today can only hope the housing bubble will eventually burst, which is a pretty bleak outlook.

“Environmentally, most indicators are in decline and iconic species like the koala are threatened as prime habitats are decimated by urban expansion,” says Dr Ward.

“While human populations grow, it gets harder and harder to meet our international obligations with respect to greenhouse emissions. Despite our relatively weak target of reducing emissions by 26-28 per cent by 2030 on 2005 levels, this translates to around 50 per cent reduction per capita because of population increase, and far more if we adopt a more meaningful target.

“In short, the rising tide of population growth means a greater sacrifice must be made by each person in reducing their own emissions,” Dr Ward says.

Recently, Victorian Liberals acknowledged that Melbourne would become unliveable as it grew to eight million and recommended decentralisation.

“But decentralisation is a Band-Aid fix to a systemic problem. With our healthy fertility rate of around 1.8 children per woman, we have an opportunity to join the ranks of countries like Japan, and show the world how a modern economy can thrive without a growing population. The only solution is to cut net migration at least by half – which we can do while increasing our refugee intake – and encourage people to have small families,” says Dr Ward.

Further information:

Dr James Ward, SPA National President
Email –
SPA website –



Federal Government , Migration , population
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