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Queensland Economic Advocacy Solutions

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Overseas Migrants to Queensland: Where the bloody hell are you?

As Australia’s population clock ticked over 25 million at 11 pm on the 7th August 2018 it is important to understand how this milestone has been achieved. In short Australia continues to be the lucky country and the heavy lifting of our increase comes from overseas migrants wanting to get a piece of the action despite recent integrity measures by the Federal Government to make it more difficult for Australian businesses to access skilled migrants.

However in analysing the data I noticed an interesting aberration for Queensland. 376,650 Australians in 2016-17 elected to pick up their belongings and relocate to another State.  This is referred to as interstate migration. Of this amount Queensland attracted 26.1 per cent or 98,410 persons from other States, well ahead of a per capita share (which for Queensland would be 20 per cent).  That is Queensland is a net recipient of interstate migration flows. Reasons for interstate migration to Queensland are many and include to be with family, to take up a job opportunity, lower cost of living and housing, and lifestyle considerations such as our wonderful sunshine and beaches.

What is interesting to my mind though is Queensland only attracted 16.4 per cent or 88,270 international migrants of the total 538,820 persons migrating to Australia (well under our theoretical per capita share).  Obviously many of these overseas migrants didn’t get the memo.  Australians who are arguably more informed of the place to be are locating en masse to Queensland yet overseas migrants continue to flow to both Sydney and Melbourne.

It is probably just as well though as SEQ continues to groan under population pressures.  If our State over the past ten years had of attracted the same ratio of overseas migrants as we did interstate migrants then we would have an additional 342,000 persons residing in the Sunshine State. This represents a massive untapped economic opportunity but it also represents a potential disaster for our State’s infrastructure. 

So a good question to overseas migrants may well be ........  where the bloody hell are you and what can we do to keep you there!*

Seriously though interstate migration to Queensland is now well and truly bouncing back after some difficult years for our economy but I am concerned that Queensland appears to be experiencing a declining share of overseas persons migrating to Australia. It is probably time to get on the front foot and start spruiking what we have to offer but also who we need in terms of skill shortages.

*For the record I am pro-immigration believing it to represent a wonderful opportunity to enrich our community as well as increase demand across the economy. 

All figures sourced from ABS Catalogues 3412.0 and 3101.0

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