Small jump in residents

By Cobram Courier

Berrigan Shire experienced population increases last year, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The shire’s population increased by 40 people, from 8667 in 2017 to 8707, including a net increase of 36 coming from overseas migration.

Natural increase (birth and death rate) saw a net increase of five, while internal migration (emigrate to different local government area in Australia) had a net decline of one.

It was the 16th consecutive year the Berrigan Shire has seen an increased population.

Berrigan Shire Council has previously claimed the population had decreased since the implementation of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.

General manager Rowan Perkins said this was still the case in Finley, however, decreases had not happened in Tocumwal and Barooga due to people moving to be close to the Murray River.

He said the numbers provided by the bureau were only raw numbers and did not provide exact town numbers.

‘‘It’s still an overall figure, so it doesn’t tell us a lot, but the increase is positive.

‘‘We can’t be absolutely certain that one factor is people retiring to Barooga or Tocumwal, but history tells us that is what’s happening.

‘‘Surprisingly there has been an expansion in the younger population in Tocumwal, which we don’t quite understand yet.

‘‘Although we don’t have all information, if we base it off school and pre-school enrolments we believe that’s the case.

‘‘I suspect the numbers from overseas migration are essentially backpackers, rather than people moving here as permanent residents, but it’s still fantastic for the area.’’

Mr Perkins said the population increase would serve an important planning mechanism in the future when applying for government money.

‘‘It should send a clear message to the NSW Department of Planning about their own figures; they’ve been projecting a state of decline for 25 years,’’ he said.

‘‘What is important about growth is it can show to government agencies when you’re seeking grants or infrastructure funding that money does need to be distributed into this area.

‘‘It’s very hard to get government agencies to invest in an area in need of money where they see there’s a decline.’’