Melbourne overtakes Sydney as the largest city in Australia after

Melbourne has overtaken Sydney as the largest Australian city for the first time in more than 100 years due to a quiet boundary change in Victoria.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) in 2021 included the area of Melton, in the city’s north-west fringe, to Melbourne’s population.

It boosted the total number of people in the Melbourne Significant Urban Area to 4,875,400 in June, which is 18,700 more residents than the Harbour City.

That means Victorian’s capital has been more populous than Sydney since 2018.

The ABS said it classifies urban areas in “several different ways” by including all connecting suburbs with more than 10,000 people.

Andrew Howe, an ABS demographer from the Regional Population Unit, said the change was made due to the rapid population growth in the fringe suburb.

“The 2021 census told us that Melton and the rest of Greater Melbourne was now, statistically, one contiguous area,” he told The Sydney Morning Herald.

“Until the 2021 census definition, the Sydney significant area has a higher population that Melbourne. However, with the amalgamation of Melton into Melbourne in the latest significant urban area classification, Melbourne has more people than Sydney.”

The Harbour City’s Significant Urban Area includes the Sydney basin and the Blue Mountains, but not the Central Coast, which is part of Greater Sydney.

Greater Sydney still has a larger population overall with 5.26 million people in June 2021, compared to Melbourne’s 4.98 million.

But that is predicted to change in less than a decade, with the Victorian capital set to overtake its neighbour by 2031.

The federal government’s Centre for Population estimated earlier this year the number of residents in Melbourne will rise by a massive seven figures to 6 million.

It will then grow a further 100,000 people over another year before it slows down to about 1.6 per cent growth from June 2032.

Sydney’s population will also grow in the exact same time but much slower, as the New South Wales capital will also lose residents to regional towns and other jurisdictions.

Both cities have already lost tens of thousands of residents who decided to relocate for a quieter life away from the city or state during and post the COVID-19 pandemic.

Treasurer Jim Chalmers in January said it was a “great coup” for Melbourne.

“We often see Melbourne voted one of the most liveable cities in the world, so it’s not surprise to see population growth rebound,” he said.

“Given everything Victorians went through the pandemic, this is a great coup for Melbourne and the people that make the place so special.”

NSW still has a larger overall population, with 8.23 million residents compared to Victoria’s 6.72 million, according to the latest figures.

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