Canberra, Aug 7 (IANS) Australia’s population is set to hit the 25 million mark, according to official estimates by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), a milestone reached in record time as net migration continues to outpace births.
According to ABS, Australia’s population was increasing by one person every 83 seconds and the new population record was likely to be set late on Tuesday night, ABC News reported.
The 25th million resident could be a new migrant to the country, a newborn baby or an Australian returning home after living abroad.
“We won’t know for sure who the 25 millionth Aussie will be. But it is more likely to be an overseas migrant than a newborn,” author and political commentator George Megalogenis was quoted as saying by the Sydney Morning Herald.
“The two biggest migrant groups in Australia are Chinese and Indians since the turn of the 21st century,” he told The World programme.
“So we’re getting an extraordinary number of Chinese and Indians from two countries that are actually rising. 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,” he said.
Net overseas migration — the number of arrivals minus departures — currently accounts for 62 per cent of Australia’s growth. Natural increase makes up 38 per cent.
“Last time that happened was in the gold rushes of the 1850s,” Megalogenis said.
The milestone, driven significantly by migration, has magnified debate about the merits of a “big or little” Australia and congestion in cities, according to the BBC.
As urban sprawl worsens in Sydney and Melbourne, the government wants people to look at alternative places to live.
Australia’s population is concentrated around its coast — Sydney and Melbourne alone account for about two-fifths of people. The Oceanian country has grown by six times since 1901 when its population was 3.8 million.
Australia is one of the world’s largest countries by land area, ranked seventh out of 257 nations, according to the 2017 CIA World Factbook.
However, its population density is among the world’s lowest, at 3.1 people per square kilometre, with most Australians living in the country’s southeast, and vast regions of the interior being sparsely populated, the ABS said in 2016.