For over two years now, Queensland has been a net loser of people to Victoria, as the historically reliable net migration of people from Victoria to Queensland has reversed (first chart below). The conditions for mass migration out of Victoria into Queensland, such as a big gap between property prices and high unemployment in Victoria, are no longer there, and it appears Victoria’s advantages, such as lifestyle factors and professional jobs, are dominating. Indeed, Victoria is gaining people from all over Australia, and, as the ABS noted in a recent media release, 2014 was a record year for net interstate migration to Victoria (second chart below).
I suspect we could waste a lot of money in Queensland trying to match Victoria’s cultural and sporting attractions, so I wouldn’t recommend that, but I think we could improve our attractiveness to companies looking to locate or expand in Queensland by cutting payroll tax (and finding offsetting savings in expenses), for example. This, of course, would be politically very difficult, given the budget situation, so I don’t expect it would happen anytime soon.
But it appears highly desirable to improve our attractiveness to business investment. Otherwise, we’ll keep losing talented people who can find better employment opportunities outside Queensland. Over the five years to June quarter 2015, 16% of new professional jobs in Australia were located in Queensland, meaning we under-performed compared with our population share of around 20%. In start contrast, Victoria over-performed, with 29% of new professional jobs in Australia compared with its population share of around 25%.