It was once reported that Paul Keating said, “If you do not live in Sydney, you are just an educator.”
But fewer people now seem to agree with the former prime minister’s assessment of Australia’s oldest and most populous city.
Melbourne, which has been the underdog in the race for influence and power since the federal parliament moved to Canberra in 1927, seems to be catching up.
The capital of the South is today the closest it has been since 1930 to overtake Sydney as the most populous city in Australia.
Sydney grew by 57,100 people to 5.4 million residents during fiscal year 2019-20, an increase sold by 80,100 residents that Melbourne added during that period to bring its population to 5.2 million, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics last week.
In 1930 Sydney had 1.2 million inhabitants compared to 995,000 in Melbourne.
Prof Nick Farr, a demographer at the University of Macquarie, says recent growth in Melbourne has dwarfed that of Sydney because of greater immigration consumption. This is due, among other things, to the “more liberal” eligibility of the Victorian government for skilled migration that accepts a greater variety of occupations than Sydney, as well as to the “very proactive” approach of Melbourne universities to entice international students.
Cheaper housing in Melbourne is another factor that Parr believes drives not only immigration from abroad, but also Sydney residents – both established Sydney residents and recent international immigrants struggling with the cost of living in Sydney – to move to Melbourne.
About half of the people moving from Sydney to Melbourne were born overseas, with the biggest condition being recent immigrants from South Asian countries.
Parr says the trend has been consistent in the years leading up to the epidemic, noting that the latest data last only about three months of closing the international border in Australia, which means it could be less noticeable in next year’s data as international migration has been largely delayed. .
“The same international migration driver has ceased, but if there is a reversal of pre-epidemic patterns after the reopening of the border, then Melbourne should cross Sydney within years,” Peer says.
The Population Center modeling predicts that the Melbourne population will overtake Sydney by 2026, when it is expected to have 6.2 million people compared to 6 million expected for Sydney.
In many ways, this will be a return to the past glory of Melbourne, which during the gold rush of the mid-19th century, was the most populous city in Australia and one of the richest in the world.
With the end of the gold rush and the economic crash of 1891, growth stopped in Melbourne and in 1905 Sydney regained its place as the largest city in Australia.
In 1926 Sydney became the first city in Australia to reach one million inhabitants.
The quality of proliferation
Dr Liz Allen, a demographer at the Australian National University and author of the socio-demographic book Our Future, says that while Sydney has been Australia’s main port and industry center for most of the 20th century, policy decisions have been directed at New South Wales. Potential “Melbourne is seen as a future”.
“When Bob Carr was prime minister, he famously said [in 2000] That Sydney was full, and that the doors to immigration had to be closed.
“While immigration to Sydney continued, the government acted on the assumption that there would be no growing population, so there was little investment in infrastructure, and those made were short-sighted.”
Alan says people typically move to employment and education opportunities, and want to settle “in the areas that contribute most to their lifestyle support.”
“For many immigrants who have recently arrived, Melbourne offers much more in terms of education, employment and those important social networks that help people from around the world make the most of their opportunities.
“The social and physical infrastructure invested in Melbourne creates an opportunity for a vibrant, diverse and more mature multicultural city, so Sydney is left behind.
“If you ask actors on the street, I think they are more likely to tell you that Melbourne is a place of culture, and I think it is more appropriate for the entrepreneurial motivation of the immigrants,” Allen says.
Social demographer Mark McRindle told the Guardian in 2017 that the population boom in Melbourne is not just driven by immigration.
“The Victorian story is pretty fascinating,” McRindell said. “It is one of two countries that have what we call a ‘triple green light of growth’: natural growth, net migration overseas and population growth between net countries.”
The limits of growth?
But despite Melbourne’s phenomenal growth, there have been teething problems. Much of this growth is concentrated in only a few suburbs. Melbourne claims four of Australia’s five largest suburbs in absolute growth. And these huge new housing developments on the outskirts of the city have created what some call a two-tiered city, with those in central Melbourne enjoying access to cultural and leisure facilities and good public transport, while those in the suburbs spend hours on busy roads.
Sydney also has some of the difficulties. It is among the ten most expensive cities in the world, according to the Economist’s report, making it even more expensive to live in New York and London. And Sydney’s home prices, which were already high in the country, are growing faster than Melbourne’s. 2020 shows an average apartment price of $ 1.2 million for Sydney, which has grown by 6.7% compared to the same year even against the backdrop of an epidemic, while house prices in Melbourne have grown by an average of $ 936,000.
Carr, who was criticized for his comments that “Sydney was full,” asserted that Sydney could not continue to expand indefinitely, and that endless urban expansion would come at the expense of the natural environment. The shape of the millennium during his tenure showed that water sources should be taken into account, and the floods of recent weeks have raised questions as to whether some areas prone to floods should be exempted.
Sydney’s geography plays a role in limiting growth. To the north and south, the city is limited by national parks, to the west the Blue Mountains are a natural barrier to development and also constitute a World Heritage Site.
In both cities there is enough room for future growth even without expansion. Tokyo, with a population of 9 million, covers about 2,000 square kilometers. London, with a similar population, occupies only 1,500 square kilometers. In contrast, Sydney was spread over 12,000 square kilometers and Melbourne 10,000 square meters.
No matter what struggles the two cities face, they show no sign of deterring future arrivals. The latest forecasts from the Australian Bureau of Statistics for September 2020 are that by 2050 Sydney will have a city of 9.08 million and Melbourne 9.61 million. It will finally be a victory for the Southern capital in the population race, but at what cost?