'Sea Change' Trend Continues UnabatedPort Douglas 4 April 2006:
Newly released population figures show the 'sea change' phenomenon is continuing unabated and is placing severe pressure on coastal communities around Australia, according to the National Sea Change Taskforce.
The Chair of the Taskforce, Maroochy Mayor Cr Joe Natoli, said the ABS figures released for the year ended June 2005 show that growth rates in coastal Australia remain nearly 60% higher than the national growth rate of 1.2%.
Cr Natoli was speaking at the first national conference of coastal councils, called SEA CHANGE 2006, which is being held at Port Douglas in north Queensland.
“We had expected some slackening of growth in the latest figures, but our analysis shows that coastal growth rates have remained at consistently high levels over the past three years,” Cr Natoli said.
“There seems to be no end in sight to this shift to the coast. In fact the demographers are warning there is going to be a massive new surge of ‘sea changers’ as the baby boomers reach retirement at the end of this decade.”
Cr Natoli said research conducted for the Taskforce by the Planning Research Centre at The University of Sydney identified that rapid growth in Australia’s coastal areas is being driven by a phenomenon known as amenity migration.
He said factors contributing to population growth in coastal Australia include:
• A growing number of people seeking to improve their quality of life, away from the capital cities;
• The high cost of housing in the capital cities;
• The imminent retirement of the ‘baby boomers’, which is predicted to create another big surge in population movement to the coast;
• The global shift from manufacturing based economies to information, service and consumption based industries which do not depend on a metropolitan location; and
• New technology, including broadband, which enables people to telecommute from small coastal centres or the rural hinterland.
Cr Natoli said the ABS figures show that coastal Australia has experienced the strongest growth outside the capital cities and is particularly strong in Queensland and Western Australia.
Queensland coastal councils recorded an average growth rate of 2.4%, which is double the national average, while West Australian coastal councils recorded average growth of 3.7%, which is more than three times the national average.
“Our research has pinpointed the main drivers of growth in coastal Australia. It has also identified planning strategies that each sphere of government can use to better plan and manage coastal growth,” Cr Natoli said.
“Now it is a matter of finding the political will to address this issue before the coastal environment that Australians love so much is overwhelmed by the scale of growth and development that is occurring there.”
In Queensland, the Gold Coast recorded one of the largest population increases of all Local Government Areas (LGAs) in Australia, reporting a gain of 12,600 people.
In Western Australia, the Wanneroo LGA continued its strong growth trend, with a gain of more than 7,000 over the course of the year and the Mandurah LGA maintained its growth momentum with an annual growth rate of 5.9%.
In NSW, increases in population were recorded in most coastal LGAs outside the Sydney metropolitan area, with the largest occurring in Shoalhaven, Newcastle and Lake Macquarie.
The Victorian LGAs of Bass Coast, Greater Geelong and Surf Coast continued to experience strong growth, while in South Australia the coastal LGAs of Alexandrina, Yankalilla, Victor Harbor and the Copper Coast were among the fastest growing in the state.
A number of coastal LGAs in Tasmania also continued to experience growth, including Break O’Day, Flinders, Glamorgan/Spring Bay and Kingborough.About the Taskforce
The National Sea Change Taskforce was established in 2004 as a national body to represent the interests of coastal councils and communities experiencing the effects of rapid population and tourism growth. It now represents 68 coastal councils in all Australian states.http://www.seachangetaskforce.org.au/