GRIFFITH’S population has grown by a meagre 2.9 per cent over the past five years, new Census figures have revealed.
While population growth in other regional cities such as Wagga, Albury, Orange and Bathurst has boomed by as much 13 per cent since 2006, Griffith has lagged behind.
The 2011 Census data, which was released last week, showed Griffith’s population grew from 23,795 people in 2006 to just 24,511 in 2011.
Griffith Business Chamber vice president Pat Pittavino said while the slow growth was concerning for the local economy, he did see some hope in the future.
Mr Pittavino blamed a number of factors for the sluggish increase including the state of the rural economy, lack of investment over the past five years, depressed real estate prices and above all, the Murray Darling Basin Plan.
“As a business owner, particularly in retail, you want growth in the city – you want people to buy phones, buy houses, buy furniture,” Mr Pittavino said.
“I think word’s got out that there are some issues here.
“We want them resolved so the town can move through them and power forward.”
Mr Pittavino said the government needed to inject more spending into Griffith in order to grow opportunities that would attract people to the region.
“There definitely is hope but we’re really calling all tiers of government to give us a hand – we’ve generated a lot of income for the government over the years but we haven’t received much back,” he said.
“The private hospital is going to be a great thing for the city because it will generate jobs, people will move here to retire – that’s the type of thing we need.”
Member for Murrumbidgee Adrian Piccoli said given the fact Griffith’s economy is heavily reliant on agriculture and food and fibre production, the 2.9 per cent increase was “quite a remarkable feat”.
“People should be really pleased about it because I’ve never seen such a bad period in Griffith as we’ve had in the last two years,” Mr Piccoli said.
“In the 80s and 90s Griffith grew at a very rapid pace and people became accustomed to that – the fact that it’s slowed has got people worried.”
He said he was “not a fan” of government’s artificially supporting local business because it was “inherently unstable” and they often did not fit with the existing industries.