In my first post examining the new projections, New NSW Population Projections 2006-2036 - what do they mean?, I looked at the overall break-up of the numbers between the Sydney region and the rest of the state, then focused on the Sydney numbers because they are so important to the overall projections.
This post looks at the projections from a New England perspective. As with the analysis in the first post, a number of qualifications apply:
- Sydney is the Sydney statistical division, a much larger area including the Blue Mountains and Central Coast than the traditional definition of Greater Sydney.
- There are some uncertainties in the historical figures because of continuing changes to boundary definitions.
- So far as New England is concerned, there will be some slight understatement in the figures because some of New England is included in the vast by area North West regional division used for planning purposes.
- The figures are projections, not predictions, although some of the media reporting has in fact tended to treat them as though they are predictions.
- Rounding means that some of the cross-totals do not exactly match.
The Overall Position
The following table summarises the New England position within the projections. Again, all figures are in '000.
|- Rest of Hunter||60||77||91||100||110||120||128||28|
|- Mid-North Coast||144||207||262||297||331||362||387||90|
|Total New England||869||1,035||1,196||1,325||1,453||1,573||1,675||350|
|New England % NSW||17.5||18.7||19.3||19.4||19.2||19.1||18.5||15.7|
To set these figures in perspective, at the turn of the twentieth century, around one person in four in NSW lived in New England. Within New England, while Newcastle was by far the largest centre, there was a rough balance between the inland and coastal populations outside Newcastle.
The twentieth century saw a long term decline in New England's demographic position. This was most marked on the Tablelands. Then over the last quarter of the century, the seachange phenomenon saw rapid growth along the coastal strip that partially redressed the aggregate demographic decline. Within this, the inland areas as a whole continued their relative decline at an accelerating rate.
The projections suggest that these trends will continue. The large inland Northern region is projected to slip from the second largest population to the second smallest, the smallest if the Hunter Valley is taken as a whole. In 1976, New England's strip including Newcastle already held 72.3 per cent of New England's population. This is projected to reach 82.3 per cent in 2036.
Within these broad patterns, each New England region has its own special demographic features. I will look at these in my next post.