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Wagga is the leading sponge city

Tim Rowe

02/03/2007  ::  3836  hits
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Wagga has been described as a “sponge” city for its ability to attract new residents.Photo:
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Demographer says young people are key to growth

WAGGA is Australia’s leading “sponge” city and is virtually the capital of its own country, Australia’s leading demographer says.
Bernard Salt, from KPMG, said Wagga’s population increase of 790 people during the past year was because of the city’s ability to provide a range of services, particularly to the 18 to 24-year-old age group.
Wagga’s increase, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, was above average and the second highest of any inland NSW city behind Maitland (up 1400) in 2005-06.
“Wagga’s doing very well. A population of 58,000 people is a big town by Australian standards,” Mr Salt said.
“A 1.3 per cent rise means Wagga is outperforming Sydney, which is at 0.9 per cent.
“The reason for that was because Wagga has several pistons driving it.
“There’s the university and it’s a service town – and the defence force is a big factor too
“It’s a capital of a country called the Riverina and there’s a lot of educational and entertainment facilities (drawing people to the city).
Mr Salt said smaller towns within the Riverina, at least 100 kilometres from Wagga, which previously had a population of about 3000 people now only needed to be 1500 to meet the needs of farming communities.
“This is a sponging effect,” he said. “Look at Urana (its population has continued to decline) and the pattern hasn’t really changed. 
“People are gradually gravitating towards larger satellite cities and this is one of the major factors of sponge cities are it ends up with a culture clash between it and outer townships.”
The expert said the $4000 baby bonus had no dramatic effect on Wagga’s significant population increase as it was a national program.
“The make or break factor (in population growth) is a city’s ability to hold the 18- to 24-year-olds.”


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