Coast faces population explosion
NON-metropolitan coastal areas face huge increases in population in the next 40 years as population growth is constrained in our state capitals, the National Sea Change Taskforce says.
Taskforce executive director Alan Stokes said revised estimates of Australia's population growth will have dire implications for coastal areas, especially in south-eastern Queensland.
Treasury projections indicate Australia's population will rise to 35 million by 2049, 13 million higher than at present and seven million higher than previously projected.
“After analysing the estimates which were prepared by the Federal Treasury the taskforce believe the projected growth is likely to increase the population in Australia's non-metro coastal areas by up to 90 per cent,” Mr Stokes said.
While capital cities had doubled in the past 40 years, there were doubts about the prospect of this happening again in the next 40 years, Mr Stokes said.
Population growth in Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth was restricted by water availability and Sydney was held back by the Blue Mountains.
“We could be looking at best a 60 per cent increase in the capital cities over that time,” Mr Stokes said.
“If we are expecting the population to grow by another 13 million in that time, where are they going to go?”
The taskforce says the population will head for non-metropolitan coastal areas including the Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast in Queensland, the Surf Coast in Victoria and the south-western coast of Western Australia.
“Those are the areas where a lot of this growth will be located in future,” Mr Stokes said. “They are already the fastest growing parts of Australia.”
The combined increase for non-metropolitan areas was greater than population growth in capital cities.
There would be further pressure as at least a million baby-boomers planned their moves from next year through until 2016, Mr Stokes said.
The rate of migration and population growth to coastal areas would be the equivalent to adding 11 more Gold Coasts to the population of these communities, he said.
“These communities are struggling already to meet the demands and pace of demand that they are facing,” he said. “People have flowed into these areas for decades but the resources haven't flowed with them.
“Local councils and local communities don't have the resources to provide the same level of access to the citizens, like public transport, health and all the other things people take for granted in cities.”
Queensland had developed a regional plan to help government agencies and local authorities cope with the population influx, Mr Stokes said.
But a national approach was needed to tackle the issue and the best way for that to happen was to discuss the issue at the premiers' conference, he said.