The Sunshine Coast is predicted to be among the fastest growing regions in Australia over the next 14 years.
The Sunshine Coast is predicted to be among the fastest growing regions in Australia over the next 14 years. Warren Lynam

Population to keep fuelling Sunshine Coast boom

A BOOMING population will fuel continued economic growth on the Sunshine Coast, but growth is starting to slow.

Regional Australia Institute has predicted the Sunshine Coast's compound annual growth rate between 2013 and 2031 will be 2.9% - above the predicted 2.7% national average growth rate.

Between 2001 and 2013, Sunshine Coast growth rate was 4.6% - well above the 2.9% national average and among the fastest growing cities in the country. During that time the Sunshine Coast was only behind the resource boom-fuelled explosions in Mackay, Gladstone, Darwin and population growth in Mandurah in WA.

The report classifies the Coast as "gaining”, having equalled or outperformed the past and predicted averages.

RAI chief Jack Archer said a booming population could lead to a diversification of the region's economy.

"It's a good time for the Sunshine Coast,” he said.

"You're seeing a lot of professionals move to the area for lifestyle reasons. So sectors like professional services have a big opportunity to become a big part of the Sunshine Coast's economy.

"The challenge for the area is to get these people to create more jobs.”

A Sunshine Coast council spokesman said population growth was a key growth driver but also a challenge to be addressed.

"The Regional Australia Institute report reinforces what the growth forecasts have been indicating for some time in respect of the Sunshine Coast,” he said.

"The Sunshine Coast has experienced strong population growth for the last three decades and is forecast to have the second highest growth rate of any region in Queensland through to at least 2036.

"Council is not sitting on its hands however and waiting for this growth to occur. It is important for our community that council plans for and helps to shape how this growth occurs and where it is accommodated.”

Mr Archer said the research showed regional Australia was a vital part of Australia's economic future.

"What we're getting at the moment is people looking at the latest 12 months of data and saying it's all about Sydney and Melbourne,” he said.

"But when you look at the long-term performance it's not the view that really holds up.

"You hear a lot about how regional areas are struggling, but the economic modelling shows over the medium term they're going to be fine.”

Local government alliance Regional Capitals Australia praised the report and RCA chair Shane Van Styn said the report showed population size was not the only economic indicator.

"This report is essentially saying cities of all sizes are dynamic - the idea that regional cities are and will continue to be a drag on our economy is clearly fanciful and fiction,” he said.

- NewsRegional