Australia’s population is predicted to tick over 25 million in early August.
The country is adding a new person every 83 seconds, taking into account births, deaths, and net migration.
Demographer Mark McCrindle estimates the milestone will be reached at about 4 a.m. on Aug. 8, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.
The 25th million resident is likely to be a female aged 26 from China who moves to western Sydney on a higher education visa, he predicted.
Earlier this year, it was revealed that Australia’s population is estimated to grow to 36 million by 2046.
Sydney and Melbourne are projected to have their populations increase to 7.4 million and 7.3 million respectively by mid-century, while the populations of Brisbane and Perth will double to around 4 million.
“We are growing, not only faster than a lot of the developing countries that normally have a faster growth rate—our growth rate is way above China and other countries in Asia. We’re also growing faster than most OECD nations,” McCrindle told Fairfax.
Net overseas migration (NOM) continues to be the main driver of population growth. Last year, net migration was 240,400, accounting for 62 percent of new residents, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. NOM has been steadily increasing in recent years and much of it has been driven by a sharp rise in student visa applications, Business Insider reported.
According to Fairfax, about eight of 10 new migrants last year settled in Sydney or Melbourne.
Between 2016 and 2017, Sydney grew by a record 100,000 people and Melbourne added an unprecedented 125,000 people. Meanwhile, many regional cities saw declines in population.
“We need to rebalance the population,” McCrindle told Fairfax.
“We’ve got red-hot growth in some cities, population decline in other very established cities, and we’ve got a city like Darwin that goes up and down with the economy.
“We need to modulate our population growth so it’s sustainable, so it’s planable, so that it’s decentralised and not all about just the east coast capitals … to grow our regional economies.”
Research Fellow at UTS City Futures Research Centre Dr Laurence Troy told Fairfax that Australia needs a population growth policy due to impact of increased density and development on big cities.
“The current approach is just to let it [population growth] happen and that generally means it happens in Sydney and Melbourne,” Dr Troy said. “It creates a lot of pressures and a lot of that is borne out via the urban development process because we need to find new houses.
“Congested cities are more polluted cities and at the same time if you keep pushing outwards it creates other environmental issues, like how we live [and move] in the city.”
In February, former Prime Minister Tony Abbott called for the permanent migration intake to be cut from 190,000 to 110,000 a year to alleviate pressure on wages, house prices, and infrastructure.
“At least until infrastructure, housing stock, and integration has better caught up, we simply have to move the overall numbers substantially down,” Abbott said in a speech to the Sydney Institute.
“A strong migration program in the long term doesn’t preclude a smaller one in the short term, especially when there’s acute pressure on living standards and quality of life.”
In a report by Infrastructure Australia in February, the federal body warned that unless all levels of government responded to population growth, then cities will likely see a fall in living standards, with higher congestion and poorer access to jobs, health services, schools, and green spaces.
Entrepreneur Dick Smith, a longtime proponent of population control, said the issue has been ignored by the major political parties.
Smith told News Corp last year that eight out of 10 Australians supported a population plan.
“What I’m amazed at is there’s no discussion,” he said.
“I get stopped in the street all the time, people say, ‘Dick, it’s terrible, 14 per cent youth unemployment, my grandkid can’t get a job.'”
On July 13, Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton confirmed the annual permanent migration intake fell to 164,000, marking the lowest level since 2007.