Leading Australian demographer Bernard Salt would “not be surprised” to see major retailers open up shop at Dubbo on the strength of his projection: the city will reach 51,600 citizens in the next 25 years.
The KPMG partner said the potential for 10,000 more people would make it easier for the bosses of the big dollars in the private sector to commit to Dubbo ahead of other opportunities across Australia.
Mr Salt flew in yesterday to re-write the future of a city knocked about by drought for most of the past decade.
He was engaged at a cost of $50,000 by Dubbo City Council, which feared that while the dry time had come to an end, the gloomy outlook it shaped would remain.
Mr Salt challenged NSW Department of Planning forecasts that Dubbo would grow by just 5000 people by 2036, using a long-range view as evidence.
Graphs and tables were the order of the day at a media briefing and then a public forum but Mr Salt made sure the mathematics enhanced rather than hid his message.
An extra 10,000 citizens would support business growth because it represented 2800 new households, $107 million in new retail spending, $35 million in new supermarket spending and half a Kmart, according to the KPMG findings.
“I see a report like this as incredibly important for setting the tone for what the community could see in the next 25 years,” Mr Salt said.
Mr Salt argued the drought had hurt Dubbo, but the drought ended three years ago.
He provided figures that demonstrated continued recovery in population growth since the rock bottom year of 2003/2004.
That recovery’s highest point was in 2008/2009 when Dubbo recorded an increase of 690 people.
KPMG’s projection of about 10,000 new Dubbo citizens by 2036 is its “moderate scenario” and is based on an average positive population change of about 375 people each year.
While KPMG’s media briefing contains the disclaimer that any forecast should not be regarded as a warranty, Mr Salt was confident in his work.
“Our rate of growth predicted is quite modest,” he said.
“We’re not overshooting this.
“There is scope for Dubbo to do better and I hope it does.”
Before he was a KPMG partner Mr Salt crunched numbers for Reading Cinemas, which operates a five-cinema complex at Dubbo.
In addition to households, retail and concrete, the projected 10,000 extra citizens would support business growth in the form of one cinema screen, he said.