Australia’s population has officially passed the 25 million mark, decades ahead of previous Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) predictions.
The historic milestone was recorded at 11.01pm (AEST) on Tuesday night by the ABS’ “population clock”, which tallies births and deaths in Australia, as well as those migrating to, or leaving, the country.
Australia’s population is thought to have been boosted by new Australians, with net migration continuing to outpace births.
The ABS population clock estimates Australia’s population increases by one person every 83 seconds.
It assumes a new Australian is born every one minute and 42 seconds, while one dies every 3 minutes and 16 seconds.
Overseas migration accounts for 62 per cent of Australia’s population growth, with one new resident arriving every 61 seconds.
Natural increase makes up 38 per cent as one resident leaves the country for good every one minute and 51 seconds.
Citizenship Minister Alan Tudge said he hoped that many of the new arrivals would opt to move to country towns rather than stay in Australia’s biggest cities, where he said infrastructure is under pressure.
“There are some areas feeling the population pressures, particularly Melbourne and Sydney, while there are other regions in Australia which are crying out for more people,” he told the ABC on Tuesday.
“So I think we’ve got a distribution problem as much as anything else. And of course, we have to make sure that the infrastructure is being built in front of the demand rather than behind it, as we’ve seen in recent years.”
Associate Professor Amanda Davies, a geographer at Curtin University’s School of Design and the Built Environment, urged governments to come up with a population strategy as Australia’s cities will hit a limit in terms of how many people they can accommodate.
“The long-term disinvestment in regional and rural communities by successive governments has made it all the more difficult for these places to diversify their economic activities, grow employment opportunities and attract new residents,” she said.
“Many individual towns and cities across the country are trying, best they can, to cope with population growth, stimulate population growth, or, for some, curb population loss.
“Without a national framework to bring this knowledge and effort together, opportunities are being missed. Now is the time to get serious about a national population strategy.”
Author and political commentator George Megalogenis told the ABC while it was impossible to know for certain who the 25 millionth person is, he said they were most likely a young, female Chinese student.
“The two biggest migrant groups in Australia are Chinese and Indians since the turn of the 21st century,” he told The World program.
“Since about 2005, we’re receiving more people from overseas than have been added to our population through natural increase, so more migrants than babies.”
If this pace continues, Australia’s population is expected to hit 26 million in another three years from now, and 40 million by mid-century.