Christopher Knaus July 31, 2012
The Gungahlin district spearheaded population growth of nearly 50,000 in the ACT over the past decade, while residents were abandoning the territory's south, new data shows.
Population figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, released yesterday, shows the ACT grew by 48,400 people to 367,800 over the 10 years to June 2011.
The 15 per cent rate of growth was consistent with nationwide trends.
Gungahlin was the fastest growing suburb, with the population nearly doubling from 24,400 to 49,700.
But there are concerns the burgeoning numbers in Canberra's north are not being matched by equal investment in infrastructure, services, entertainment, and public amenities.
There are also fears that declining populations in Tuggeranong, which lost 1700 residents over the decade, could rob southsiders of future government investment, and hurt local businesses as demand tapers off.
The vast majority of the past decade's growth was seen in Canberra's north, with the ACT's northern statistical areas accounting for 46,000 of the 48,400 total growth, according to the ABS.
The Gungahlin Community Council president Ewan Brown said the services and amenities in the area has not kept pace with the rate of population growth.
He pointed to too many single lane roads, the lack of a cinema, a lack of large employment hubs, an underdeveloped town centre, and the lack of childcare places and aged care services as examples.
Economic Development Minister Andrew Barr said the population increase in Canberra's north was expected, and said the city's overall growth was welcome.
He said the government had poured large amounts of capital investment into Gungahlin to help accommodate the surge in residents.
''Gungahlin has been the beneficiary of a large capital spend for the best part of the last decade,'' Mr Barr said.
''There's been half a dozen new schools built, the town centre is rapidly developing, we've made a decision around new ACT government office accommodation … the college, the health centre, the swimming pool, the leisure facilities, the enclosed ovals,'' he said.
Southside suburbs including Kambah and Wanniassa have seen populations decline, with the lack of available land and the ageing of residents cited as influencing factors.
The Tuggeranong Community Council is concerned this stagnation will threaten future government funding and demand for local businesses.
''It is a concern to the council, because governments use this sort of data for future planning for provision of services and facilities,'' president Darryl Johnston said.
''If we are not growing in Tuggeranong then there's no incentive, why would governments want to provide additional service or additional facilities if we are not growing?''
Mr Barr said the issue of population stagnation in Tuggeranong was not new, and said the availability of new land was a major issue constraining growth.
''The plans for new land release and significant increase in the population in and around the lake, that have been outlined and strongly supported by the community council, will certainly go to addressing some of that population decline,'' he said.
''There will be over time some renewal of households.''