The Territory is set to become “more blokey” again with the construction of INPEX’s Blaydin Point onshore gas facility, according to a Charles Darwin University population expert.
Senior Research Fellow with The Northern Institute at CDU, Andrew Taylor said that during the past 30 years the Territory had changed from an extremely blokey place to having more balance between the sexes.
He said, however, that with the arrival of INPEX, and in particular during the construction phase, the gender balance would alter again.
“During Darwin’s reconstruction after Cyclone Tracey we saw a big spike in the sex ratio (the number of males for every 100 females) to around 124 males per 100 females,” Mr Taylor said. “It’s now down to 111 males per 100 females. The construction of the Blaydin Point facility for INPEX will arrest the decline and increase the sex ratio again to as high as 118. The extent of this largely depends on the size of the construction workforce and how many locals INPEX employs for the construction phase.”
Mr Taylor specialises in research-based modelling of demographic scenarios and said he believed the changing patterns of interstate migration had seen more females gradually choosing to arrive and stay in the Territory for work.
“A gradual decline in the sex ratio has occurred which, if sustained, would see us reach equal numbers between the sexes by around 2020,” he said.
“This represents a major transition in our population and in the long run a more balanced population is a good thing.
“The ongoing decline in the sex ratio reflects a growing relative importance of the service and administration sectors as employers, and especially in occupations related to addressing Indigenous disadvantage and servicing Indigenous needs,” he said.
Mr Taylor warned that neither the gradual balancing out between the sexes nor the effects of INPEX were likely to make the Territory a less transient place in the long term.
“A balanced population has a stable core of residents amongst the young, middle aged and the old,” he said. “But the Territory is still highly transient across all ages and this creates major costs to the economy, both economically and socially.”
He said his team’s research on why people left the Territory pointed to job opportunities elsewhere, wanting to be near family and friends, and the climate as major reasons.
“Changing these motivations will be extremely difficult, but keeping more retirees (grandparents) in the Territory would be a good start.”