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Australia in pictures

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12 Parliamentary Library Briefing Book: Key Issues for the 44th Parliament

Australia in pictures Statistics and Mapping

Estimated resident population by state and territory (%): 1972, 2002 and 2012

Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), Australian Demographic Statistics, December 2012, cat. no. 3101.0 and ABS, Australian Historical Population Statistics, 2008, cat. no. 3105.0.65.001.

Overall, the proportion of Australia’s population in New South Wales (NSW), Victoria (Vic.), South Australia (SA) and Tasmania (Tas.) declined from 1972 to 2012. The proportion of population in Queensland (Qld), Western Australia (WA), Northern Territory (NT) and the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) increased over the period.

Estimated resident population by age (%): 1972 and 2012

Source: ABS, Australian Demographic Statistics, December 2012, cat no. 3101.0.

In 1972, 46% of the population was aged 0-24 years, while in 2012, only 33% of the population was in this age group. Over the same period, those aged 60 years - the baby boomer generation - increased from 12% to 20%.


Proportion of persons (aged 15 years and over) with a bachelor degree and above: 2006 and 2011

Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, Census of Population and Housing 2006 and 2011.

ACT residents are amongst the most educated in Australia, with 34% of the population aged 15 years and over holding a bachelor degree or higher. This compares with 21% in Vic., 20% in NSW and 18% in WA, with the lowest being Tas. at 14%.

Employment by business size: 2011-12

Source: ABS, Australian Industry 2011-12, cat. no. 8155.0.

Of all business entities in 2011-12, small businesses in Australia employed the most people - 43% of all those employed (4,649,000 people). This was followed by large businesses, which employed 31% (3,320,000 people), while medium-sized businesses employed 26% (2,758,000 people).

A changing Australia

14 Parliamentary Library Briefing Book: Key Issues for the 44th Parliament

Government spending provides a wide range of services to the community. The most significant component relates to social security and welfare, with around one-third of total expenses providing support to the aged, families with children, people with disabilities, veterans, carers and unemployed people.

Another one-sixth of government expenses occur in health, including Medicare Benefits Schedule and Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme

payments. A similar amount is also transferred to the States and Territories in general revenue assistance under the other purposes function.

There is also significant investment under the education function, supporting government and non-government schools, as well as higher education and vocational education and training. The remainder is spent on defence and a range of other public services.

Source: Budget paper no. 1, Statement 6, 2013-14

Australian budget outlays by portfolio, 2013-14