Naysayers are the first to flag a North Queensland state would not stack up financially, but an economist believes the idea is viable.
Naysayers are the first to flag a North Queensland state would not stack up financially, but an economist believes the idea is viable.

Numbers add up for a new Aussie state, economist claims

NAYSAYERS claim a North Queensland state would not stack up financially, but an economist believes the idea is viable.

North Queensland-based economist Colin Dwyer (pictured) says the North has a big enough population to support a new state.

As part of an Economic Society of Australia presentation, Mr Dwyer put the North under the microscope to see if the region could meet a number of key needs.

It follows Townsville Mayor Jenny Hill's decision to put her support behind the idea, saying it was the only way for the region to prosper.

Mr Dwyer said his test looked at population, economic activity, ownership of and need for social assets, common interest in the community, distance from existing capital, performances and risk assessment and a precautionary test.

He said his test found a North Queensland state satisfied political, most economic variables, social, technological, cultural and legal tests. The economist also found the federal government was providing considerable support for regional state public investment, and a democratic Queensland parliament would be justified in allowing the North to decide its own future. 

Mr Dwyer said the new state test found North Queensland had a sufficient population for a new state with almost one million residents.

"Unsurprisingly, there was significant common interest in a new North Queensland community with distinctive climate, unique environmental assets and current state dividing home insurance challenges, to name a few," Mr Dwyer said.

"A new NQ zone sufficiently complied with the economic activity requirements of my test. In addition, a preliminary but comprehensive new NQ state budget (first of its kind), revealed new NQ would have a surplus.

"Other economic benefits included gaining direct responsibility for federal funding, a seat at COAG (now disbanded) and relocation of some significant private sector company head offices from Brisbane to NQ regions - shifting considerable population and incomes."

Mr Dwyer said further investigation would need to look at the ownership of state debt and the transfer of past sales of public assets from the North to the south.

"I found little evidence that a new state would require a significant increase in public servants because, in most cases, they already exist," Mr Dwyer said.

"But there may be a relocation of a moderate number of public servants from Brisbane to North Queensland, to manage direct federal funding; once again shifting population and incomes.

"With probable population shifts, the potential for Brisbane includes a reduction in traffic congestion, reduced requirement to build expensive inefficient tunnels and economic benefits from daylight saving.

"However, one disadvantage was that southern Queensland would probably start out with a deficit budget before adapting."

 

Originally published as State numbers add up for NQ: economist


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