Australia’s population has doubled in the last 50 years and soared by 2 million since the last national survey, with Melbourne set to overtake Sydney as the nation’s most populous city.
The findings of the 2016 census, compiled by the Australian Bureau of Statistics and released on Tuesday, revealed Australia’s estimated population at December 31 was 24.4 million.
And while Sydney remained the country’s largest population centre with close to 5 million people, growing by an average of 1,656 per week, Melbourne could soon take the title with a growth of 1,859 people per week.
For the first time in our history, the majority of people born overseas are now from Asia, not Europe.
Over one million new migrants have come to Australia since 2011, hailing from some of the 180 countries of birth recorded in the Census, with China (191,000) and India (163,000) being the most common countries of birth of new arrivals.
Meanwhile, the Australian Capital Territory experienced the largest population growth of any state or territory over the past five years, adding more than 40,000 new residents – an increase of 11 per cent.
Of all Australians, just over a quarter of people said they were born overseas, with England remaining the most common country of birth other than Australia.
Australia remains predominantly an English speaking country, with 72.7 per cent of people reporting they speak only English at home.
Tasmania had the highest rate of people speaking only English at home with 88 per cent, while the Northern Territory had the lowest rate at 58 per cent.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics took the census online for the first time last August, to survey Australia’s 24 million population.
The exercise was marred by cyber attacks which prompted the bureau to shut it down for almost two days.
It also resulted in IT company IBM paying out millions of dollars in compensation for its role in the mess.
A Senate inquiry conducted last year concluded the main responsibility for this bungled event lay with the federal government, because of reduced funding for the bureau when demands put on it had increased.
The census questions each household on age, gender, incomes, occupations, dwellings, transportation, ancestry, languages spoken, and religion, to help with future planning for the nation.
Small Business Minister Michael McCormack insists Australians can trust the quality of the census data.
‘Thanks to the very high participation rate of Australians in last year’s census, and the (bureau’s) efforts to assure the data through its rigorous quality checks, the census will provide a comprehensive and accurate account of modern Australia,’ he said in a statement.
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