SYDNEY (BLOOMBERG) - Australia's population growth will likely halve next year as the coronavirus spurs a collapse in migration, the government said on Monday (May 4).
Population Minister Alan Tudge told ABC radio that would have an economic impact and made lifting productivity even more important.
Treasury estimates that net overseas migration will drop by 85 per cent in the 2020-2021 financial year. The population has been growing about 1.6 per cent a year for the past decade, about 60 per cent due to migration, Tudge said.
While high levels of migration have been an essential component of the country's record-breaking run of economic growth, recent years have seen a growing popular backlash.
The majority of newcomers head for big cities like Sydney and Melbourne, and there have been increasing complaints that population growth is reducing the quality of everyday life, straining infrastructure and pushing up house prices.
Kristina Keneally, the home affairs spokeswoman for the main opposition Labor party, at the weekend called for a reduction in migrant numbers after the pandemic, saying the country's historic reliance on immigration to boost growth has hurt workers.
Tudge said it was too early to say when Australia would reopen its borders.