I’ve previously questioned whether the target in the draft Queensland Plan to have half the population living outside South East Queensland is achievable (see Regional infrastructure plan should be based on updated population projections). The latest official State population projections from Queensland Treasury, which appear to have been released today, show just how difficult that target will be to achieve given that Treasury is currently projecting an increase in SEQ’s share of Queensland’s population over the coming decades. The relevant figures, based on the medium-series projections, are:
- in 2014, an estimated 3.18 million people live in SEQ (Greater Brisbane, Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast), which is 67.1% of Queensland’s estimated population of 4.74 million.
- in 2036, a projected 4.90 million people will live in SEQ, which will be 69.0% of the Queensland population of 7.10 million.
Treasury, of course, will argue that its projections are based on current policy settings and that they don’t take account of any policy measures that may be aimed at reaching the Queensland Plan target, which is true. However, given the existing trend is toward greater concentration in SEQ, it’s hard to see how Government policies could shift nearly 20% of the State’s population from SEQ to the regions. The Queensland Plan target would imply that some 1.3 million people would choose to settle in or re-locate to regional Queensland instead of SEQ, as a result of Queensland Government policies to promote the regions. This sounds highly implausible. The regional population target in the draft Queensland Plan is unachievable and should be scrapped.