CANBERRA, March 24 (Xinhua) -- Australia experienced its fastest growth in migration in four years in 2016, something which could put further strain on infrastructure and services in the nation's major cities, according to a leading PricewaterhouseCoopers economist.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), Australia's population grew by almost 350,000 people in 2016. Notably, around 200,000 of those were migrants, meaning Australia experienced an unusually high an overall growth rate of 1.5 percent - faster than all other OECD nations except New Zealand.
Rob Tyson from PricewaterhouseCoopers told News Corp on Friday that many of those migrants were moving to Australia's big cities such as Sydney and Melbourne, and a higher growth rate could mean vital infrastructure could lag behind.
"Such growth means we need five new hospitals, 31 new schools and 35 new childcare centers every three months," Tyson said.
"Big cities are already experiencing the challenges of accommodating a rapidly growing population such as strongly and persistently rising house prices, more congestion and strained infrastructure."
The state of Victoria was the fastest-growing state in 2016, with a population growth of 127,000, or 2.1 percent.
"That's adding a city larger than (Victoria's third largest city) Ballarat every year," Tyson said.
According to the ABS, net overall migration (NOM) increased by almost 9 percent in the year ending Sept. 2016 compared with the year prior.
"This is in contrast to the declines of NOM of over 10 percent experienced during 2014 and early 2015," Demography Director Beidar Cho said.
"But the current growth of NOM is well short of the record during 2009, when over 300,000 people were added to the population."
Overall, the ABS said, Australia's population grew by 348,700 people to reach 24.2 million by Sept. 2016.