Australia

Australia's population growth rate falls to 1.4 per cent

AUSTRALIA'S annual population growth rate has fallen to its lowest level in six years, with the nation growing by 320,800 people or 1.4 per cent, in the year to 30 June 2011, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

According to the data released last week, Western Australia continues to have the fastest growing population in the country, increasing by 2.4 per cent (or 55,800 people) in the year to 30 June 2011.

This was followed by the Australian Capital Territory (1.9 per cent or 6,800 people), Queensland (1.6 per cent or 74,800), Victoria (1.5 per cent or 84,200), New South Wales (1.1 per cent or 82,200), South Australia (0.8 per cent or 12,800), Tasmania (0.6 per cent or 3,200) and the Northern Territory (0.4 per cent or 900).

At the end of June, the population of Australia was just over 22.6 million. Net overseas migration accounted for 53 per cent of the growth for the year ending June 2011, with the remaining 47 per cent due to natural increase (births minus deaths).

Net overseas migration continued to decline to the end of June 2011. The preliminary net overseas migration estimate for the year ending June 2011 (170,300 people) was 14 per cent lower than that for June 2010 (198,300 people).

Based on preliminary figures, there were 296,800 births registered in the year ending June 2011, 1.9 per cent more than the previous year (291,200). The number of deaths registered over the same period was 146,300, 3.4 per cent more than the previous year (141,500).

Australia's median age has increased by 4.7 years over the past 20 years, from 32.4 years at 30 June 1991 to 37.1 years in 2011. All states and territories recorded an increase in median age, with Tasmania recording the highest median age (40.2 years) and Northern Territory the lowest (31.5 years) as of 30 June 2011.

During the same period, the proportion of children aged 0-14 years decreased by 3.1 percentage points. The proportion of people aged 15-64 years increased by 0.6 percentage points and the proportion of people aged 65 years and over increased by 2.4 percentage points.

On ABC Radio's AM program, demographer Graeme Hugo from The University of Adelaide said Australia's growth rate is still historically high and higher than any of the other OECD countries.

Mr Hugo said the slowing growth rate was due to a number of factors, including changes to student migration policy and the impact of the global financial crisis on the 457 temporary skilled worker migration program.

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