THE NSW Department of Planning and Infrastructure has been forced to revise claims Griffith’s population will drop by a fifth over the next two decades after a local member furiously pointed out the statistics were “completely wrong”.
A report on population projections released by the department last week showed Griffith’s population was set to decrease to just over 20,000 people by 2031.
However, localised projections from the Riverina Murray Regional populations forecast predict Griffith will grow to just under 31,000 over the next 20 years.
Member for Murrumbidgee Adrian Piccoli said the planning department’s report - which was based on figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, and NSW Health - should never have been published.
“They knew the projections were wrong so why publish them?” Mr Piccoli said.
“I’m so annoyed with the planning department, I’m absolutely flabbergasted they’d put out this data that they admit is wrong.”
Mr Piccoli said the results could be very damaging to Griffith’s economy, real estate market and community confidence.
“It creates the perception that Griffith’s economy is going backwards, at a time when investor confidence is just beginning to recover,” he said.
“The projections are presuming that what happened in the last five years is going to happen for the next 20 years - there’s no context.
“Saying that a town of 25,000 people is going to decline - that’s horrendous - and putting out rubbish like this has consequences.”
Minister for Planning and Infrastructure Brad Hazzard said the latest round of projections will be subject to change after the Australian Bureau of Statistics revised its data.
“I understand Minister Piccoli’s position as he has seen the on the ground action in Griffith,” Mr Hazzard said.
“As the NSW planning minister, I have to work with population projections that are given to us from the Federal Government and on occasions, they have been subject to review.
“As it happens, these latest round of projections will be subject to change because the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has just announced they have changed the way they arrive at these statistical outcomes.”
Mr Hazzard reminded people the figures were projections, not targets.
“I have instructed the Department of Planning and Infrastructure to liaise with all stakeholders during the review of the final population projections.
“If Adrian Piccoli or any locals who understand Griffith better than state government officials have a view then those views will be considered in the mix with the federal figures.”
Council economic development and tourism manager Greg Lawrence urged people to look at the positive growth which was abundantly clear in Griffith.
“We have the private community hospital, the upgrade to the airport - these are not signs the city is going backward,” Mr Lawrence said.
“Griffith is a wonderful city and we have lots of opportunities happening.”