Our Closed International Border Continued To Spark an Exodus of People From Australia, New Data Shows
By Cameron Kusher
The latest population data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows more people were heading overseas than people arriving – and droves of current residents were flocking to Queensland.
Australia’s population increased by 0.3% over the 12 months to September 2021 and although it was a slightly higher rate of growth than recent quarters, the pandemic has greatly reduced the rate of population growth.
Over the September quarter, 19,942 more residents moved overseas than people from overseas migrated to Australia, while over the past 12 months, 67,268 more residents moved overseas than migrated here from abroad.
Overseas migration isn’t the only source of population growth. Natural increase (births minus deaths) also contributes, and there was a lift of 31,998 persons over the September quarter and 136,185 persons over the year.
At a state level, population growth is also driven by net interstate migration – the number of people that move from another state or territory minus the number of people that move to another state or territory.
Over the September 2021 quarter, New South Wales (-13,640), Victoria (-2,148), South Australia (-191), Tasmania (-513 persons), Northern Territory (-50) and Australian Capital Territory (-1,036) all had a net loss of residents while Queensland (16,612) and Western Australia (1,553) were the only states or territories to record a net gain in population.
In fact, the 16,612 person quarterly gain in population from net interstate migration in Queensland was the largest on record, while over the 12 months, net interstate migration was 40,619 persons, which was the largest annual increase since December 1994.
By September 2021, the rate of outflow of residents from Victoria had slowed a little on both a quarterly and annual basis, however the state continues to record net losses from interstate migration at the fastest pace since the mid-1990s.
We should also recall that many residents of Sydney and Melbourne have shifted from those cities to regional parts of the state, so while the data shows strong migration into other states and territories, there’s also been a stronger loss of population from these cities into regional parts of those states.
Population growth is a key driver of housing demand, both to rent and purchase. Given this, it is no surprise that demand for housing in Queensland has been so strong.
Over the coming quarter we will see how the end of lockdowns effect population growth. Thereafter we will also witness the return of international migration to Australia, which is likely to add more demand for housing.
Monthly overseas arrivals and departures data indicates it has started to return slowly, but the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook from the Federal Government is forecasting that net overseas migration won’t return to pre-pandemic levels until 2024-25.
I would expect little change in the trends in net overseas migration that were seen pre-pandemic.
Back then, most overseas migrants choose to settle in New South Wales, and specifically Sydney, or Victoria, and predominantly Melbourne.
Their eventual return should create more demand for housing in those areas, mostly for rental accommodation in the first instance.