Australian population growth is slowing as fewer people arrive and a record number head abroad

TenplayThe Tribe has spoken.
  • Australia’s population grew by 388,000, or 1.6%, in 2017, according to data released by the ABS today.
  • Net overseas migration accounted for 62% of the increase with the remaining coming from natural increase.
  • Australia’s population is expected to hit 25 million in August this year.

Australia’s population grew by 388,000, or 1.6%, last year, according to data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) today.

At the end of the year, the estimated resident population stood at 24.77 million, putting it on track to reach 25 million by August should current growth rates be sustained.

As has been the case for quite some time, the increase was driven by net overseas migration (NOM) which rose by an estimated 240,040, accounting for 62% of total population increase over the year.

That was down from an increase of 243,800 recorded in 2016.


Total arrivals rose to 529,400 over the year, up 9,700 on 2016. Departures totalled 288,900, up from 275,800 one year earlier. The latter was the highest level on record.

All states and territories recorded a net increase in NOM last year, and accounted for the largest share of population increase in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory.

Compared to a year earlier, NOM rates increased in Western Australia, the Australian Capital Territory and Victoria, but slowed in the Northern Territory, Queensland, Tasmania, New South Wales and South Australia.

NOM not only includes permanent visa holders, capped at 190,000 per annum, but also those holding temporary visas such as workers, students and tourists who have been in Australia in at least 12 out of the past 16 months.

Natural Increase — simply measuring births less deaths — rose by a smaller 147,500 over the year, accounting for the remaining 38% of Australia’s total population increase.

That was slightly above the 146,300 level seen in the prior year.

Natural increase was the major contributor to population growth in Queensland and Western Australia.

Net interstate migration also added to population increase in Victoria, Queensland, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory, but detracted from growth in all other states and territories.

Queensland had the highest net gain at 22,500, followed by Victoria at 16,400. Net losses of 19,300 and 12,800 respectively were recorded in New South Wales and Western Australia over the year.


In both number and percentage terms, Victoria recorded the largest increase in population over the year, lifting by 2.3%, or 143,400, to 6.3858 million.

The Australian Capital Territory’s population also grew sharply, increasing by 2.2% over the year, or 8,800, to 415,900.

They were followed in third and fourth spot respectively by Queensland and New South Wales whose population increased by 1.7% and 1.5% respectively over the year.

In contrast, growth rates of less than 1% were seen in all other states and territories.


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