Written on the 26 March 2015 by Antony Scholefield


QUEENSLAND is losing its reputation as "the land of milk and honey", prompting a slump in population growth to a 15-year low.

The latest population figures have been skewed by a decade-low net immigration from interstate and overseas, leaving births as the main driver of growth in the state.

New figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) put Queensland's growth at 1.5 per cent and show that 80,000 Queenslanders moved interstate in the 12 months to September 2014. Only NSW recorded more interstate departures.

Professor Martin Bell, Director of the Queensland Centre for Population Research, says Queensland "is not the mecca it was once seen as - the land of milk and honey".

"Interstate migration in Australia is predominantly driven by economic and labour force motives," he says.

"I suspect that there is some effect of lower job growth within Queensland, particularly in the mining sector.

"House prices aren't as cheap in Queensland as they used to be, making it a less attractive place for southerners to move."

Overall Queensland's population growth was similar to the national average, but Phil Browning from the ABS says Queensland would usually be expected to outperform all other states.

"While this is similar to the national growth rate, it is well below the state's 15-year average annual rate of 2.1 per cent," he says.

"This slower growth is due to a nine-year low in the state's net overseas migration and one of the lowest net interstate migration increases in over 30 years."

If the trend continues, Queensland's population in 2021 will fall below even the lowest predictions.

In 2011, the Queensland treasury used ABS figures to predict a 2021 population of 5.6 million with "medium" growth, or 5.3 million with "low" growth.

At the current rate, Queensland's population won't even reached the "low" growth figure for 2021, although it will move slightly above it in later decades.

Bell says the growth rate will probably increase after this "one year fluctuation", but the general trend is still lower than in the past.

"Interstate migration has dropped away substantially over the last decade, which has reduced the growth rate considerably," he says.

"What differentiates the states and territories is people moving from one state to another within the country, and the states' share of overseas migration.

"Queensland's share of overseas migration has dropped a bit too."

During the 12 months to September, overseas arrivals in Queensland fell by 10 per cent.

Only Western Australia experienced a greater decline, although every state and territory recorded a year-on-year decrease in overseas arrivals.

The largest population growth occurred in Western Australia and Victoria, at 2.1 and 1.8 per cent respectively. NSW recorded a population increase of 1.4 per cent.

Queensland's estimated population is now 4.75 million.
Author: Antony Scholefield





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