Wednesday, 28 June 2017

CENSUS figures released yesterday by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) confirm that the population of the Northern Tablelands is growing and the overwhelming majority of communities in the region are expanding, and some quite rapidly, according to local State MP Adam Marshall.

A very pleased Mr Marshall welcomed the release of the 2016 Census which showed that the electorate had seen an overall growth rate of 2% over the last five years – 2011 to 2016 – an overall increase of 1,572 residents.

“Given the economic times the region has faced in the last five years and the lack of growth generally across country NSW, these figures are very impressive, pleasing and encouraging,” Mr Marshall said.

“The data backs up what many have felt across the region of late – a sense of optimism, increasing activity and growth. It’s always positive to have the anecdotal evidence and feelings confirmed. This is great news.

“A number of communities are growing at better than the New England North West average and streaks ahead of the trend across country NSW – even those that are not, aren’t too far off the pace.

“These results show the strong resilience of our Northern Tablelands communities and the trends bode well for the future, which is full of opportunity, no matter where you live across the region.”

The biggest mover was the Armidale Regional local government area (LGA) (population of 29,449 in 2016), with an increase of 947 people over the five-year period, up 3.3% on the population of the combined Guyra and Armidale Dumaresq LGAs in 2011.

“This reflects the continued growth surrounding the Costa Tomato Farm expansion in Guyra and the increased activity in Armidale in recent years,” Mr Marshall said.

Inverell Shire (16,483) also showed strong growth with 408 new residents, a growth rate of 2.5%.

“Inverell is a bustling burgeoning regional centre which continues go from strength-to-strength,” Mr Marshall said. “This growth is not surprising and with a number of new developments, it will continue to expand.”

The most exciting figure revealed in the Census, according to Mr Marshall, was the turnaround in Gwydir Shire (5,258), which grew by a very healthy 6% over the last five years, adding an extra 293 residents.

“This is tremendous news for Gwydir, which as an almost entirely rural-based LGA has done it tough over the years, but this result shows that they have turned the corner and the future looks bright,” he said.

Glen Innes Severn (8,836) continued its positive trend, growing by 180 since 2011, an increase of 2.1%. Mr Marshall said, with the enormous development activity around renewables projects – wind and solar – he expected Glen Innes to continue to grow and develop.

Taking advantage of its close proximity to Armidale and quality lifestyle options, Uralla Shire (6,048) also bucked the trend with an extra 14 locals, a 0.2% growth.

The only LGA to record a decline in population from the 2011 Census was Moree Plains (13,159) which shed 270 people, despite a slight upsurge in the last two years.

“There’s no denying that the implementation of the Murray Darling Basin Plan and the water buybacks that ensued hurt the Moree economy and community and I think the census figures bare that out,” Mr Marshall said.

“In typical Moree style though, the community has rallied and the slight growth in the last couple of years has ensured the drop since 2011 isn’t larger.

“I believe that with the inland rail and other huge infrastructure investments in the region, the future is looking very positive for the Moree district.”

Mr Marshall said that given many areas in rural NSW were experiencing population decline, the Census figures for the Northern Tablelands were “extremely positive”.

“A growing region will attract better services, new employment opportunities and greater investment,” he said.

“These figures highlight the need to continue to promote country NSW and what is has to offer and to support government and non-government initiatives that help people and businesses relocate and assist existing business and industry to grow.

“I look forward to continuing to work with all communities across the Northern Tablelands to take advantage of the opportunities to grow and develop.”

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