At the end of the June 2017 quarter, Australia’s estimated resident population reached 24,598,933 persons; an increase of 1.6% over the year.  Looking at components of national population growth, natural increase was recorded at 142,716 persons and net overseas migration was recorded at 245,408 persons.  The 245,408 person increase due to net overseas migration was the highest rate since December 2009. 

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Looking at population change between the states and territories shows the rate of population growth remains strongest in Victoria with the population increasing 2.3% over the past year.  The next fastest growing region was the Australian Capital Territory (1.7%) followed by New South Wales and Queensland (1.6%), Western Australia (0.8%), South Australia and Tasmania (0.6%) and the Northern Territory (0.1%).  

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In terms of the raw number of population increase, Victoria and New South Wales remain well in front with increases over the past year of 144,357 persons and 121,794 persons respectively.  The population increase in Queensland (79,580) was also quite strong while it was more moderate in South Australia (10,494), Western Australia (21,403), Tasmania (3,289), Northern Territory (365) and Australian Capital Territory (6,833).  New South Wales and Victoria accounted for 68.6% of the total increase in national population over the past year.

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In terms of net overseas migration by state and territory, over the past year it has been at it’s highest ever level in New South Wales (98,570) and Victoria (86,901).  In fact those two states have accounted for 75.6% of national net overseas migration.  Elsewhere, the annual increase from net overseas migration was recorded at: 31,148 in Queensland, 10,497 in South Australia, 13,101 in Western Australia, 1,461 in Tasmania, 923 in Northern Territory and 2,801 in Australian Capital Territory.  Queensland’s annual rate of net overseas migration was the highest since March 2014, in South Australia it was the highest since December 2015.   Western Australia’s net overseas migration was the highest since September 2015, in Tasmania it was the highest since June 2010 and in Australian Capital Territory it was the highest since December 2012.

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Looking at net interstate migration, there seems to be a shift away from New South Wales and Victoria.  Over the past year, the population changes due to net interstate migration were: -14,859 in New South Wales, +17,182 in Victoria, +17,426 in Queensland, -5,941 in South Australia, -11,722 in Western Australia, +741 in Tasmania, -3,490 in Northern Territory and +663 in Australian Capital Territory.  The outflow of residents from New South Wales has accelerated and is at its highest annual rate since March 2013 while the annual inflow to Victoria is lower than over the previous two quarters. Queensland now has the greatest annual inflow of residents from interstate of all states and territories and is at its highest level since December 2008.  In South Australia and Western Australia the outflow of residents has slowed moderately while in the northern Territory the outflow is continuing to climb.  Tasmania’s rate of net interstate migration is the highest since September 2009 and Australian Capital Territory’s inflow remains positive but has eased a little.

With Sydney and Melbourne having seen strong economic conditions, there has been an increasing number of people migrating to these two cities over recent years, both from elsewhere in Australia and overseas.  With housing affordability now stretched and employment growth accelerating elsewhere in the country it is interesting to see how Queensland in particular, is now seeing an increase in its share of overseas and interstate migration.  Overall migration to Tasmania and Australian Capital Territory is also accelerating. It will be interesting to see over the coming quarters whether these trends continue especially as dwelling values have started to fall recently in Sydney and the pace of growth in dwelling values in Melbourne has also slowed.  Furthermore, the two most populous cities are now much larger than the other capital cities and infrastructure investment has failed to keep pace leading to poorer outcomes for residents.  This could be another factor driving increased interstate migration to other parts of the country.

Australia’s ongoing rate of high population growth, particularly within Sydney and Melbourne is helping to create demand for housing which is likely to help to support a controlled landing in the Sydney and Melbourne housing markets as dwelling value growth slows and/or falls.