Cairns 'thumping' Townsville in rate of population growth

Trinity Beach and Smithfield are welcoming more new residents than any other town in North Queensland, fuelling a strong rate of broader population growth across the Cairns region. 

According to analysis by Conus economist Pete Faulkner, the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics population data showed Cairns attracted 3061 new residents between 2016 and 2017, a growth rate of 1.2%.

That figure was higher than the 1.1% growth rate during the 12 months to June 2016. 

The updated ABS figures will have consequences for policy-makers as they consider infrastructure spending to cater for the growth.

The latest figures show Cairns far outpaced the modest increase in Townsville's population, which welcomed just 966 people in the same period, resulting in a weak 0.6% growth rate.

Growth rates on a local government level across the region included: 

  • Yarrabah Aboriginal Council +3.6%
  • Douglas Shire Council +1.6%
  • Cairns Regional Council +1.4%
  • Cassowary Coast Regional Council +1.0%
  • Mareeba Shire Council +0.8%
  • Tablelands Regional Council +0.5%

Mr Faulkner said the Trinity Beach and Smithfield led the way in Cairns with 4.2% growth, while in the Cassowary Coast it was Tully (which includes Tully, Cardwell and Mission Beach) at 1.5%.

The 1.2% growth rate for Cairns is expected to climb higher, according to forecasts published last year by Rick Carr from Herron Todd White. Mr Carr predicted the Cairns region - defined as the urban area from the Goldsborough Valley through to Ellis Beach - will grow by 1.4% in the year to 30 June 2018.

Local economist Bill Cummings has previously predicted the Tropical North's population would grow to 550,000 people by 2050, larger than the current population of Tasmania.