Australia's population has grown to 21 million in 2007, helped in part by record immigration levels. The country is experiencing the largest immigration influx in decades.
Alongside immigration, increased birth rates have been helping to bolster the population. Previous population booms in Australia were experienced after World War II and during the 1980s.
July 2007 estimates for Australia, according to the CIA World Factbook:
|Population growth rate:||0.824%|
|Birth rate:||12.02 births/1,000|
|Fertility rate:||1.76 children born/woman|
|Death rate:||7.56 deaths/1,000|
|Net migration rate:||3.78 migrants/1,000|
Andrew Metcalfe, secretary of the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, has hailed the current immigration figures and expressed interest in keeping the numbers high. The government is projecting the acceptance of 152,800 new migrants in 2007-08.
Skills shortages are driving the government's migration program as employers are being forced to look abroad to fill gaps in the labor market.
In contrast, Australian neighbor New Zealand has lowered its projected immigration targets in response to inflation worries, causing talk that the country might see a population drop in the future. Currently, New Zealand has a population of just over 4.1 million..
At a recent National Party meeting, National MP Pansy Wong said that Auckland alone needed 40,000 migrants a year and that Immigration Minister David Cunliffe's reduced target of 47,000 migrants -- down from 52,000 the previous year -- would only leave 7,000 for the rest of the country.
She stated that New Zealand was experiencing an exodus of sorts as people left Kiwi for better job opportunities in Australia.
"It is too easy for our young people to get on a plane and live in Australia because it's a bigger country and it's easy to get a job," she said.
July 2007 estimates for New Zealand, according to the CIA World Factbook:
|Population growth rate:||0.95%|
|Birth rate:||13.61 births/1,000|
|Fertility rate:||1.79 children born/woman|
|Death rate:||7.54 deaths/1,000|
|Net migration rate:||3.43 migrant(s)/1,000|
Although New Zealand has cut projected immigration figures, it has also made Skilled Migration Category requirements easier recently by awarding more points for various applicant criteria and decreasing the amount of capital needed to come under the Business Investor Scheme.