6 July, 2024

Thanks a million

NEW research shows that the entire North Queensland region, including the Far North, has joined the one million club.

By Isabella Guzman Gonzalez

Thanks a million - feature photo

According to ABS figures and Adjunct Professor Colin Dwyer, North Queensland – from the tip of Cape York, south as far as Gladstone and into the northwest, including Mt Isa – has topped 1,001,661.

North Queensland is the combination of FNQ, northern and north west Queensland, Mackay/Isaac/Whitsundays and Central Queensland, including Rockhampton, Gladstone and Central Highlands.

Cairns/FNQ accounts for 265,366 people (4.9 per cent), Central Queensland/Fitzroy 238,231 (4.4 per cent), Mackay/Isaac/Whitsunday 189,643 (3.5 per cent) and Townsville and northwest 308,421 (5.6 per cent), to total 1,001,661.

Prof Dwyer said the region had the population to justify the creation of a separate state.

“In 2008 someone asked me to look at a viable northern state. Back then I found some common geographic outlines of a northern state had insufficient population or were economically unviable. 

“However, there was a viable option. This was a combination of five northern regions including Central Queensland, North Queensland, the northwest and the Far North.

“A sufficient population for any new state is important for many reasons. In 2008 my research found NQ’s population was 865,000 and represented 20 per cent of the state. 

“In 2023 NQ’s population was 1,001,661 residents. This is an important milestone for the north.” 

Prof Dywer said there wasmore to creating a new state than just population.

“The second crucial criteria is a viable and diversified economy. Any new state needs to contribute more than it takes,” he said. “My 2008 research was the first time a combination of credible, official, regional data quantified the economic contribution of North Queensland. It was around $80 billion. 

“In 2023/24, North Queensland remains a very productive zone. Its gross regional product was $147.6bn. This is almost four times Tasmania’s economic contribution and, with 18.3 per cent of Queensland’s population, it represents 31.7 per cent of Queensland’s economy. 

“In 2024-25 northern mining contributed $10.5bn in royalties and over $20bn in the past three years. Any new state needed to demonstrate it could have a viable state public budget.

“Having a viable and diverse economy allows any potential new state to have a defendable public finance foundation and provides a basis for economic and community wellbeing, jobs and housing.” 

Hinchinbrook MP and Katter’s Australian Party deputy leader Nick Dametto said that in 2023, the NQ zone sufficiently complied with the population and economic activity requirements of Prof Dwyer’s new state test.

“In addition, it was interesting to see that a preliminary but comprehensive NQ state budget, revealed NQ would have a surplus,” he said. 

“Other economic benefits of a new northern state included, gaining direct responsibility for federal funding, a seat at COAG and relocation of some significant private sector company head offices from Brisbane to NQ regions, shifting considerable population and incomes. 

“There is significant common community interest in a new northern state, especially up north. 

“North Queensland has a distinctive climate, unique environmental assets nd current state dividing home insurance challenges, to name a few.”


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