back to article Australia: even more empty than you imagine

In a release that went largely unnoticed in the lead-up to Christmas, the Australian Bureau of Statistics launched a data product designed to simplify regional and international comparisons. The Australian Population Grid 2011 (that is, it uses the 2011 Census data) plots Australia's population against a 1km2 grid. Prior to …

  1. elDog Silver badge

    Am I being uncharitable when I think the original form was intentionally misleading?

    The ABS "mesh blocks" seem to be fairly arbitrary and could be used to skew results for minor things like census and benefits allocation.

    Of course, it's always a problem dealing with highly varying population densities (and gawd knows OZ has those) but there are potential solutions by presenting different ways at looking at these densities.

    Here in the "States' we deal with this by having a couple of blokes representing various land masses (senators), and then many others that are elected by smaller gerrymandered landmasses (representatives). This is "democracy" in the Merkin way. Of course, the corporates determine all of this and the voting exercise is really just watching the puppet-masters.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Am I being uncharitable when I think the original form was intentionally misleading?

      A bit - we have a Senate and an HR at the Commonwealth level for much the same reason.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bumper Sticker?

    Maybe this should be published as a bumper sticker to counter those idiotic "F**k off, we're full" stickers I keep seeing.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bumper Sticker?

      Maybe this should be published as a bumper sticker to counter those idiotic "F**k off, we're full" stickers I keep seeing.


    2. dan1980

      Re: Bumper Sticker?


      While I am careful to point out that I do not agree with those people, you're not really making a very good argument here.

      That one can drive for a hour on the Eyre Highway and only see a half dozen other cars does not do much to counter claims that Parramatta Road or the M5 in Sydney are parking lots during peak hour.

      The fact that Australia is the most sparsely populated country is great and all but just not relevant here. Unless, of course, the suggestion is that immigrants and refugees (those being told "we're full") should go settle in those vast open spaces that give us that title.

      The fact is that the infrastructure is not keeping pace with our population growth. And this can be seen in soaring house prices and ever increasing congestion everywhere you go - from bumper-to-bumper traffic on the roads, to elbow-to-elbow public transport, to busier supermarkets and shopping centres and crowded cafes and pubs.

      The answer, of course, is better infrastructure and more growth and jobs in regional areas to spread it out a bit. But we all know that that will happen far slower than growth, as it has for the last decade. We are still a heavily compressed population which means that, while we are on AVERAGE the most sparsely populated country, Sydney has some of the worst traffic congestion in the world.

      Again, I'm not siding with the "we're full" folks - I'm just pointing out that the argument you are using is fallacious.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Bumper Sticker?

        Yes, a large part of the continent is barely habitable but the place is so feckin huge it still leaves a large amount of it that you can comfortably live in. The problem is that nearly everybody wants to live in Sydney and Melbourne and they are just about full.

        Look at Britain. A small island of 60+ million people that doesn't claim it is full. Huge parts of Scotland & Wales and significant parts of England such as North Yorkshire are still undeveloped.

        Across the North of Australia we have a huge chunk of land several times the total area of the UK which is lush, green and virtually uninhabited. Yes, it would need developing and there are issues such as native title, but this is just logistics and politics. The land itself certainly isn't full.

        Beyond this I have driven though large parts of inland Victoria and NSW that are green and empty.

        I am not suggesting that we develop every last green space in the country but to suggest that the place is full (or even close to it) is absurd.

        1. Michael Xion

          Re: Bumper Sticker?

          I tend to agree. I'm lucky enough to live on a rural property (1 acre) on the Sunshine Coast hinterland (Qld). I can drive to work in about 35 minutes on country roads through gorgeous countryside (The Glasshouse Mountains). However, if I want to go further south to Brisbane, I'll inevitably get caught in the traffic snarl of the Bruce Highway (it's Australia, there's always something called Bruce). The biggest problem is that most of the jobs and infrastructure are concentrated around the capital cities, and certain regional centres. There is bucket-load of land available for people, but little infrastructure (jobs) outside of those urban centres. A forward thinking country would invest in something like an NBN or at least a decent national rail network to distribute those jobs around, but unfortunately the politicians in Australia seem more concerned about trite political slogans. I guess it's probably the same everywhere else :-(

        2. RedAnt

          Re: Bumper Sticker?

          I’m surprised to see that Australia’s experience seems to mirror Britain’s. With overcrowded popular metropolitan regions and empty, literally it seems in Australia’s case, rural landscapes.

          Britain’s 60 million plus population could very comfortably fit into the country but most of the economic activity is concentrated in the south east. Even with distances considerably smaller than on the Australian scale, commuting between the regions is impractical for most people. A more even spread of this economic activity is an issue successes British governments have been trying to, unsuccessfully, address since the 1970’s.

          I can only imagine this would be even more challenging in Australia vastness

          1. Muscleguy Silver badge

            Re: Bumper Sticker?

            The Norwegians have done this. They could have just let everyone congregate around Oslo but they have deliberately subsided and invested to keep people in places like Bergen or Tromso above the Arctic Circle. Of course it helps if you have an oil fund because your government was pragmatic and sensible instead of dogmatic and politically obsessed and having grown up in NZ the antics of politicians in OZ are not unknown to me.

            You get the same thing in New Zealand, a large proportion (around ⅓) live within a 3hr drive of Auckland, a bit like the UK except Auckland is not the capital (thank fuck).

            At least NZ has water, most of the time, and geological processes that push the land up out of the sea (mostly, except around poor Christchurch where it dropped AND liquified) but the point still stands. The point about water in Australia is a good one. Thirst will kill you much quicker than hunger and drive you mad in the process. Strangely the UK has a similar problem in the SE, in Kent in particular. Would you want to drink desalinated Thames estuary water?

        3. Denarius

          Re: Bumper Sticker?

          <rant> Top end lush ? B**it except during Wet. 3 months of year if a good season. It has been known to skip for years, long before climate change became a routine incantation for a non-standard year. FNQld is as bad as Kimberly or worse from the erosion from the Carpentaria impact 500 years ago. Most of North Oz is hot, dry and has limited dry season water. Not much in way of hills to provide valleys to dam either. May be the Victoria River canyon on the road to Timber Creek, but that is magic dirt country so it cant be touched. Lived all around up there for decades, been there, done that.

          As for rest of Oz, verdancy varies dramatically from month to month and bushfire. General rule is when it is green up top, its hot, dry, dusty and damned unpleasant in the south while the various central parts take turns in being drought struck for decades. Vice versa 6 months later with years when the lot is dry. About every 30 years or so we get enough rain to drop the worlds oceans measurably. eg 2011.

          I strongly doubt everyone _wants_ to live in the high density hellholes of Sydney and Melbourne, but as the greens are now a front for CBD owners and speculators it wont change quickly. Those dubious sources partly fund the political arms of the local oligarchy, who create energy inefficient high density cities to feed the greenie dream/nightmare of a highly urbanised rabble as a terrified client base while providing rent seeking super profits (in all senses of the words) to the oligarchs. </rant>

          So yes Oz is empty and more friendly to camels than humans. That's why it is a major carbon sink, not that the green client base want to know.

    3. Persona non grata

      Re: Bumper Sticker?

      But only for people who don't require available water to live.

      Most sources describe over 70% of the landmass as being arid or semi-arid and there have been many warnings we're already beyond the environment's carrying capacity with climate change accelerating this. But hey! You go right on thinking that politically correct wishfulness will make that all magically disappear as soil salinity and erosion increase.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Bumper Sticker?

        Very Southern viewpoints here.

        Try moving to the top end. Plenty of water and space up here. We could do with the land being released a bit quicker but that is a political issue. Certainly not full up here in the rural area around Darwin, but I still see the stickers.

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