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'We've done an abysmal job': Australia is struggling to handle its swelling population

Posted 272 days ago | 12.03.18

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'We've done an abysmal job': Australia is struggling to handle its swelling population

Australia is growing fast. In one year we added nearly 400,000 people to our population. That is like adding a city the size of Canberra.

But, of course, we are not building new cities. Most of those new residents are swelling the populations of our four major cities: Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Perth.

Between 2006 and 2016 Melbourne has added close to 1 million people. Sydney was not far behind adding 800,000.

In the same period, Brisbane and Perth grew by almost half a million.

The pressure points are plain to see — from congestion on the roads and rail networks to the struggle to keep up with demand for schools and hospitals.

Back in 1997, it was estimated we would take until the middle of this century to reach a population of 25 million.

Australia's population is there already.

Four Corners has investigated how this population growth has occurred and why it is taking government by surprise.

Australia has a steady birth rate and we're also living longer.

But the main driver of our population growth is immigration.

On our current rate of growth, Melbourne and Sydney will nudge 8 million in the middle of this century. But they are already groaning under the strain.

It is going to mean big changes. We will all need to make choices, trade-offs, and compromises.

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