ABS releases 2023 population, migration figures

According to the latest ABS data, the boom in migration numbers accounted for 84% of Australia’s population growth in 2023, pushing the total population to almost 27 million.

Net immigration from abroad was 547,300 in 2023, with 751,000 arrivals and 204,200 departures.

The figure of 27 million marks a population increase of 2.5% compared to the previous year.

The natural increase – or the difference between births and deaths – was 103,900 people, made up of 287,100 births and 183,100 deaths.

Western Australia had the fastest growing population, rising 3.3% from 2022 to 2,927,900.

This was followed by Victoria, which grew by 2.8%, then Queensland, which grew by 2.6%.

There are currently 6,906,000 people living in Victoria, an increase of 186,500, and 5,528,300 people living in Queensland, an increase of 141,400.

NSW remains the largest state in the country, with 8,434,800 people, up 2.2%, or 185,500.

South Australia grew by 1.6% to 1,866,300 inhabitants.

Tasmania recorded the lowest growth, just 0.4% with 575,700 people.

The growth matches population forecasts released by the ABS last year, which outlined potential growth rates for the country into the 2070s.

According to the highest predictions, 46 million people could call Australia home by 2071.

The stark figure represents a 77% increase in population over 48 years and represents the upper limit of ABS forecasts.

The “medium” forecast shows the population will reach nearly 40 million by 2071, while the low-end forecast shows a 30% population increase, from about 26 million in 2023 to 34.3 million in the early 2070s .

The increase in numbers is mainly driven by an expected never-ending migration boom.

In a high-end estimate, the ABS projects that immigrants will add 14.3 million to the population, with an annual intake of around 275,000 people.

The average forecast puts the migration contribution at 11.8 million, an annual increase of 225,000 people, while the low-end estimate is 175,000 new arrivals each year adding 9.4 million to the population.

The ABS suggests that without immigration Australia’s population would shrink due to low birth rates, with all scenarios predicting a birth rate below the replacement rate of 2.1%.

The country’s population growth rate has soared since the Covid years, rising from 0.1% in March 2021 to 2.5% in December 2023.

The growth in numbers has become a hot political issue, as house prices continue to rise and infrastructure buckles under the growing weight of residents.

Queensland Premier Steven Miles has called on the federal government to reduce migration to allow states to catch up on house building.

“While our Homes for Queenslanders plan will deliver more homes, if migration continues at current levels we will need tens of thousands more homes each year than the industry can build,” he said on 14 May.

“The federal government needs to help us ensure that infrastructure keeps pace with population growth.”

Opposition Immigration Minister Dan Tehan said the 2023 migration pace “will not be sustainable”.

“Labor must take responsibility for its Greater Australia policy,” he said on Thursday.

“Australia saw record immigration in 2023 because this Labor Government issued record numbers of visas.

“The Coalition will rebalance Australia’s migration program to maximize the economic benefits of immigration while managing impacts on housing, congestion, the environment and government services.”

In addition to migration, Queensland also recorded the largest net interstate migration in the country, with 31,595 people.

NSW, by contrast, lost 31,678 people to interstate migration.

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