Regional Queensland Offers Quicker Visas

The state of Queensland boasts one of the strongest job markets in Australia, and for skilled migrants looking to take advantage of that; obtaining a visa has just been made a lot easier.

In the hopes of encouraging migrants to relocate themselves to the more sparsely populated areas of the state, the Australian government has offered to fast-track the visa application process for anyone willing to settle in regional Queensland.

Promoting Population Growth

Queensland has had no difficulty attracting migrants. Or at least, certain parts of Queensland have had no difficulty.

Around 100,000 migrants arrive in the state each year, but 65% if its population remains concentrated in the south east region; namely the Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, and the state capital of Brisbane.

Its not hard to see why. The Gold Coast is a major tourist destination, with beaches and casinos aplenty; and Brisbane offers a wealth of business opportunity.

But the fact is that the populace areas of the state are only growing more populace, whilst the regional areas look increasingly regional in contrast. The population of Queensland is expected to double up to 8 million in the next 30 years, and the government is hoping to channel that growth into areas where it is most needed.

Townsville, Rockhampton and Cairns are among those districts looking to benefit from the surge, but the ultimate goal is for at least half the population of the state to be situated outside the south east region by 2043.

As well as preparing Queensland for the predicted population growth, the government is looking to incorporate technological advances into the state’s infrastructure, and bring it more in line with the needs of the global economy.

Encouraging overseas students to attend educational institutions in Queensland is also a priority, and it’s been estimated that in 30 years time, 95% of students in Queensland will be bilingual.

Promoting Job Creation

Queensland has long been a major source of job creation. Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that 75% of jobs created in Australia during 2013 were in Queensland, with 35,200 jobs created over a 12 month period, and a consistent rise in employment levels for 14 out of 15 months.

Queensland’s unemployment levels are the second lowest in the country behind Western Australia, and job creation will only increase as the government looks to invest heavily in infrastructure.

Construction projects are underway as Queensland looks to improve its transport, roads and public services; both in order to accommodate the expected population growth, and to make regional areas of the state more appealing to migrants. This investment will in turn create more jobs and provide a further boost to the economy.

As of June 2013, the total value of construction projects underway in Queensland was around $102 billion, while a further $76 billion was either approved or awaiting approval.

Transport infrastructure represents 45% of Queensland’s total investiture in 2013-14, but healthcare, digital technologies and energy are also priority areas. Queensland’s economic growth rate is currently standing at 3.8 per cent, which is 35 per cent higher than the Australian average; while its employment growth rate is  38 per cent higher.

If current population growth rates continue, Queensland will be the second most populated state in the country within 30 years. By fast-tracking the visa application process for migrants willing to settle in regional areas, the government hopes to ensure that the whole of Queensland reaps the benefits.

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Matthew Flax is a freelance writer who writes about migration issues pertaining to Australia, although his own visa application was rejected due to his inability to convince the immigration board that “Crocodile Dundeeing” was a skill in demand. Or even a real word.