Mayor Peter Maguire.
Mayor Peter Maguire.

Population boom predicted

RIDING on the back of the resource boom, the Isaac Regional Council’s population will reach more than 31,000 by 2021.

By 2031, more than 37,000 people are predicted to live in the area, according to a State Government population report released this week.

The Central Highlands will jump to 40,880 in the next decade and will reach almost 51,000 by 2031.

Treasurer and Minister for State Development and Trade Andrew Fraser said the Queensland Government population projections to 2031 report revealed the entire state’s population would grow by one million people in two decades.

“Queensland has been at the forefront of population growth for a generation, and that trend is not going to change,” Mr Fraser said.

“In the future, people are still projected to continue to move to Queensland, in particular to regional centres with the promise of employment opportunities.”

Between 7.3 million and 11.15 million people are predicted to live in the Sunshine State by 2056, and mining towns are expected to boom as the coal extraction industry expands beyond the Bowen Basin west into the Galilee Basin.

“The impact of continuing resource sector development and investment is particularly evident in Gladstone, Isaac and Central Highlands, all of which feature in the top 10 fastest growing local government areas in the next decade,” Mr Fraser said.

Isaac was ranked the fourth fastest growth area with an annual increase of 3%, a rapid increase particularly evident as the area experienced little population change in the decade to 2006.

“The possible future impacts of the recent natural disasters in Queensland were not taken into account when the 2011 edition of population projections were produced,” the report said.

CHRC Mayor Peter Maguire said the region’s emergence from the Global Financial Crisis had prepared the council well to cope with the staggering predicted population increase.

“A lot of places around this region during the downturn with the GFC didn’t show up that much,” he said.

“In the Bowen Basin, a lot of places generally dealt with it pretty well although the population did take a bit of a hit.”

Cr Maguire confirmed the CHRC was working with the State Government to free up land from Native Title claims for development in smaller towns such as Springsure, Rolleston, Blackwater and Capella.

Public infrastructure such as water, sewerage and roads were other priorities for the council to ensure the region could cope with the population boom.

“It’s going to have its challenges,” he said. “Future councils are going to have their work cut out for them.”

The report confirmed the fact Queensland’s population is aging, but also predicted life expectancies to increase.

“Our life expectancy is to increase by approximately 10 years to 89.4 years for males and 92.2 for females by 2056,” Mr Fraser said.

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