Revised estimates of Australia’s population growth over the next 40 years have dire implications for the nation’s coastal communities, according to the National Sea Change Taskforce, which represents non-metropolitan coastal councils.
After analysing the estimates, which were prepared by Federal Treasury, the Taskforce believes the projected growth is likely to increase the population in Australia’s non-metro coastal areas by up to 90%.
The revised Treasury projections indicate the national population will increase to 35 million by 2049 – 7 million higher than previously thought and 13 million higher than the current population.
Taskforce Executive Director, Alan Stokes, said the analysis indicated that at least 4.8 million of the additional population would need to be accommodated in non-metro coastal areas because of limits to the capacity of the capital cities to absorb the expected growth.
“If you add in the million or more ‘baby boomers’ who plan to retire to the coast between 2010 and 2026, this will expand the current population in non-metro coastal areas from 6.4 million to 12.2 million by 2049,” Mr Stokes said.
11 New Gold Coasts
“That is the equivalent of adding more than 11 new Gold Coasts to the population of these communities which already have the highest growth rates in Australia.
“Planning to meet community needs associated with this growth is a matter of great urgency and will require an entirely new collaborative approach by the three spheres of government. And let’s not forget these are the communities that are most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.”
Mr Stokes said the analysis by the Taskforce indicated the capital cities are not likely to grow by more than 60% by 2049, from 13.7 million to 21.9 million, which represents an increase of 8.2 million people.
“The capital cities have doubled in size over the past 40 years but it is most unlikely they can double again in the next 40 years due to a range of factors including geographical constraints and limits to water supplies,” he said.
“It is also unlikely that there will be a large-scale movement of people to Australia’s inland areas. ABS population data indicates that over the last three years the population in inland areas has dropped from 1.9 million to 1.3 million, a decline of 30%. It is difficult to imagine this trend can be reversed in the foreseeable future.”