Future pressure for shire

By KEN SAPWELL

THE wave of baby boomers retiring to the Tweed will shrink rating income and lead to a reduction in the size of its potential labour force, according to a report on population projections.

Tweed Shire chief planner Noel Hodges says the projected change in demographics over the next 20 years will have major social and economic implications for the shire.

He says the shire receives less rate income from pensioners because of their rates discount, making it more difficult to provide infrastructure and services.

"The potential labour force is also likely to reduce over time which may make it more difficult to maintain support for a larger retired population," he said.

Mr Hodges said that to a large extent Tweed would be among the first in Australia to deal with the impact of an ageing population because of the high numbers moving into the shire. The report estimates that 40 to 50 per cent of the growth in Australia over the next 30 years will occur in NSW, with the Far North Coast growing at about 34 per cent from 216,000 to 290,000.

Based on this it could be expected that the Tweed's population growth is more likely to be 2000 a year, with a greater proportion of the population falling into the 65-plus category.

"While this change will be gradual, this movement towards a larger proportion of older people will have social and economic implications for the shire," Mr Hodges said.

In 2004, 25 per cent of the population was 65 years and over while just 10 per cent were in the 15 to 24 category and 21 per cent in the 25 to 44 category.

By 2024 the aged population was expected to increase to 27 per cent, the 15 to 24 group to remain at 10 per cent and the 25 to 44 category to fall to 19 per cent.

Mr Hodges said the growth could be absorbed in Tweed Heads and the proposed new land release areas at Cobaki, Bilambil Heights, Kings Forest, West Kingscliff and part of Terranora known as area E.

He reminded the council that the development of Cobaki and Bilambil Heights hinged on improvements to the road networks, while Kings Forest was undergoing a review.



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