Shire population increase
The Berrigan Shire and Murrumbidgee Council both experienced population increases last year, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).
The Berrigan Shire’s population increased by 40 people from 8667 in 2017 to 8707 including a net increase of 36 coming from overseas migration.
Natural increase (birth and death rate) saw a net increase of five, while internal migration (emigrate to different LGA in Australia) had a net decline of one.
It’s the 16th consecutive year the Berrigan Shire has seen an increased population.
The Berrigan Shire Council has previously claimed the population has decreased since the implementation of the Murray Darling Basin Plan.
General manager Rowan Perkins said this is still the case in Finley, however decreases have not occurred in Tocumwal and Barooga due to people moving to be close to the Murray River.
He said the numbers provided by the ABS are only raw numbers and don’t provide exact town numbers.
‘‘It’s still an overall figure so it doesn’t tell us a lot, but the increase is positive.
‘‘We can’t be absolutely certain that one factor is people retiring to Barooga or Tocumwal, but history tells us that is what’s happening.
‘‘Surprisingly there has been an expansion in the younger population in Tocumwal, which we don’t quite understand yet.
‘‘Although we don’t have all information, if we base it off school and pre-school enrolments we believe that’s the case.
‘‘I suspect the numbers from overseas migration are essentially backpackers, rather than people moving here as permanent residents, but it’s still fantastic for the area.’’
Mr Perkins said the population increase would serve an important planning mechanism in the future when applying for government money.
‘‘It should send a clear message to the NSW Department of Planning about their own figures; they’ve been projecting a state of decline for 25 years.
‘‘What is important about growth is it can show to government agencies when you’re seeking grants or infrastructure funding that money does need to be distributed into this area. It’s very hard to get government agencies to invest in an area in need of money where they see there’s a decline.’’
Murrumbidgee Council population saw a smaller growth of six people. Natural increase was a net gain of 10 people, overseas migration grew by 17 and internal migration decreased by a net of 21.
General manager John Scarce said the Murrumbidgee Council is always pleased with any increased population, regardless of how small.
‘‘While you would like the growth to be bigger, given the climatic conditions and other areas going into a decline, to remain stagnant or increase is a win in NSW at this time.
‘‘Any type of migration is good, whether it’s domestic or international to fill jobs. There are many factors we need to maintain those numbers, such as good services including health and local government, access to goods, equipment and trade.
‘‘Murrumbidgee Council hasn’t set any population targets. Something might come out in our economic strategy policy in the future,’’ Mr Scarce said.