Ballarat pips us by 1: ABS figures reveal population growth

ONE person has taken the great rivalry between Bendigo and Ballarat to a whole new level.Bureau of Statistics figures reveal that from 2008 to 2009, both Bendigo and Ballarat increased their populations by more than 2000 people.But our rival to the south pipped Bendigo by one person, increasing the population by 2073 compared with 2072 in Bendigo.The figures for local government areas show the City of Greater Bendigo now has an estimated resident population of 102,373.Local government area figures also show Loddon Shire is one of only three Victorian municipalities to have a reduction in population. The reduction in population was less than 20 people.However, the Loddon statistical division increased by 3300 people. Statistical divisions are determined by the ABS as regions characterised by identifiable social and economic units under the unifying influence of one or more major towns.All statistical divisions in regional Victoria experienced population growth in 2008-09.Shadow Minister for Regional and Rural Development and Leader of The Nationals Peter Ryan said it was time the State Government spent more bucks in the bush.Premier John Brumby will be in Bendigo today to discuss the Blueprint for Regional Growth.“Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show a 1.6 per cent increase in population outside of Melbourne in 2008-09, while at the same time Melbourne’s population increased by 93,500 people or 2.4 per cent,” Mr Ryan said.“Unfortunately the Brumby Government only recognises population growth in Melbourne and has failed to provide adequate infrastructure and services for people living in regional and rural Victoria.“Victoria’s getting bigger, but basic services such as health, transport and policing aren’t getting better under John Brumby. “With Victoria’s population continuing to increase, regional cities must be able to help Victoria cope.”Regional and Rural Development Minister Jacinta Allan said: “The result of the Brumby Government investing in regional schools, hospitals and regional rail is that more and more people are choosing regional Victoria as the best place to live, work and raise a family. “The Brumby Government has a plan for the future of regional Victoria - that’s why we’ve been working with regional communities to develop the Regional Blueprint - a plan for the future of regional Victoria.“Peter Ryan and his lazy Coalition have no plans - only a misguided press release to cover up their shameful record of closures and cuts.”