The destinies of Queensland’s regional economies depend largely on decisions taken in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne. In his latest Weekly Economic Update*, the Queensland Shadow Treasurer Tim Nicholls MP has presented some interesting figures on the regional breakdown of the $3.2 billion in payroll tax paid to the Queensland Government in 2009-10, according to the location of the head office lodging the payroll tax return:
- Brisbane $1,681 million (i.e. $1.681 billion)
- Outside of Qld $1,069 million (i.e. $1.069 billion)
- Gold Coast $126 million
- Northern $58 million
- Mackay $55 million
- Darling Downs $51 million
- Fitzroy $49 million
- Sunshine Coast $46 million
- Far North $41 million
- Wide Bay-Burnett $31 million
- North West $27 million
- Other Qld regions $9 million
So 52% of payroll tax revenue is paid by employers (incl. government agencies) with headquarters in Brisbane and 33% is paid by firms (and it’s likely Commonwealth Government departments) with head offices outside of Queensland. This means the Queensland Government receives only 15% of total payroll tax from employers with headquarters (or their sole premises, of course) in Queensland’s regions outside of Brisbane – regions in which 55% of the State’s population lives.
To an extent, this is unsurprising given that payroll tax only applies to employers with annual payrolls of $1 million or more – i.e. employers which because of their size are likely to have head offices in Brisbane or another Australian capital. Still it’s good to have some idea of the degree of centralisation of our economy.
*Mr Nicholls’s Weekly Economic Update is not published on the web unfortunately but is available via email from his office.