The Queensland Government is running a tight COVID-19 ship with borders still closed to interstate travel even though the total infection rate on the 4th June was just 3 people. With a population of 5 million, that’s an infection rate of one in every 1,600,000 people. There are a number of important factors that the government must be considering to keep the borders closed but is interstate migration one of them?

Queensland is overwhelmingly the most popular destination for Australians seeking to relocate. And indeed over the past few years, the state has seen an unusually high net interstate migration.

In 2019 Queensland had a net gain of nearly 23,000 people with Brisbane attracting 70% of those new interstate migrants. Over the same period NSW had a net loss of just over 22,000 people.

One of the main drivers of this phenomenon is an aging population who are fond of downsizing as they get older. Another less significant influence is young city families making the move north for a better lifestyle and cheaper housing.

Obviously, Queensland’s great weather is a primary drawcard, but in recent years one of dominant factors has been the significant infrastructure work that is being undertaken and the demand for jobs that go with it.

Lots of projects and new jobs have also driven population growth on the Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast. Aside from the allure of jobs, affordable housing along with good amenities and an increasingly diverse industry base has also proven to be one of the key drivers of this unusually high interstate migration to Queensland.  For example, the Gold Coast economy has significantly diversified with health care now the No 1 employer.

Infrastructure projects like the expansion of Sunshine Coast Airport to accommodate international flights combined with the redevelopment of the local CBD will drive more tourism and exporting through to the local economy for decades to come.

The NSW and Victorian state borders have re-opened but with Queensland benefiting more than all other states and territories from the high interstate migration year in year out, has this significant long term economic contribution been considered by the Queensland state government?