Housing critical as our population doubles

Housing critical as our population doubles

Posted on Wednesday, November 27 2013 at 3:40 PM

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has released projections indicating strong demand for housing will continue to be a feature of the economy, according to the Housing Industry Association (HIA).

The latest figures from the ABS indicate Australia’s population is set
to double to 46 million by 2075.

Bjorn Jarvis, the director of demography at the ABS, says the numbers indicate
a ‘likely’ scenario for the populace doubling, “but under our high and low
scenarios it could be as early as 2058, or after 2101.”

According to the projections, Perth’s resident numbers could overtake
Brisbane’s in 2028, at three million people, and then 10 years later, the
Australian Capital Territory could pass Tasmania.

“Melbourne and Sydney should be neck and neck by 2053, with 7.9
million people each.”

Jarvis says by 2040, Western Australia’s population is projected to
almost double in size, while Queensland will have gone from 4.6 million people
to 7.3 million, and the Australian Capital Territory will have grown from
375,000 people to 586,000.

Jarvis also predicts the ageing population will continue to impact the
demography as a result of sustained low fertility and increasing life

“In 2012 Australia’s median age was 37 years old; by 2040 it could be
40.5 years,” he says.

The numbers prove we need more emphasis on housing supply from
policymakers, according to the HIA.

Geordan Murray, an economist at the HIA, says housing policy over the
past decade hasn’t been given the priority it deserves.

“Even the lowest projections show Australia’s population nearing 26
million by 2020 and 29 million by 2030.

“Housing these people will require a considerably higher average build
rate than what has occurred over the last 20 years and that won’t happen
without a concerted and cooperative focus on policy reform.”

Cameron Shepard, the national president of the Urban Development
Institute of Australia, says the quality of life in our cities will be
threatened if infrastructure and housing provision don’t keep up with
population growth.

“Our population is going to grow enormously over the coming decades,
which will bring fantastic economic benefits for Australia and provide new
opportunities for our society.

“It is essential, however, that we manage that growth sustainably, by
ensuring we are well prepared to provide the new homes, roads, schools, public
transport and other community infrastructure that those additional people will

Shepard says failure to ensure supply will result in problems with affordability,
quality of life and productivity.

“The ABS figures clearly show that as a nation we need to be putting
more resources into planning and managing the growth of our cities, not less.

“Australia already suffers from a chronic housing shortage of several
hundred thousand dwellings.”

Bernard Salt, a demographer and partner at KPMG, says dealing with the ageing population will be
most important.

“As with most countries,
Australia will need to find ways of delivering services to an older population.

“This will include housing,
health services as well as pensions.

“The emphasis over the coming decade or two will be on
lifestyle for the 60s and early 70s segments.”

Salt believes the population is unlikely to decentralise en masse.

“The inner and middle distance suburbs with access to
large job markets will come under scrutiny as desirable places in which to

Salt says the issue of efficiency will come into play
when services are required for a larger population.

“We need to find a way of delivering infrastructure
that is affordable but that does the job. 

“Do we really need railway lines with all the bells
and whistles?”

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