Onshore gas and regional development in Queensland

The oil and gas industry is bringing infrastructure and investment to several rural and regional districts, providing new jobs and strengthening and diversifying regional economies.

A 2013 study by KPMG shows that resources developments are not only making regions more prosperous, but also making their communities more stable and socially sustainable.

The study compiles key standard-of-living measures and basic demographic profiles of Australia’s nine main resources regions. It was undertaken for APPEA and the Minerals Council of Australia.

It is clear that resources developments are driving these regions’ economies. KPMG found that in the five years to 2011, the number of people employed in the resources sector across the sampled regions grew by 13,810 – or 50%. The number employed in all industries – including resources – grew by just 14%.

In that same period, the population of Australia’s resources regions had grown at 1.5% per year. This was the same as the national average but greater than the 0.8% for regional Australia more generally.

This disproves claims that fly-in-fly out employment systems mean resources regions’ populations are not increasing. Some employees are flying in and flying out, but others are moving to the resources regions.

The Surat Basin

Queensland’s Surat Basin – the region with the most coal seam gas industry activity – is an interesting example.

In the Surat between 2006 and 2011:

  • the population increased by 3.2%
  • the total number of dwellings increased by 8%
  • students finishing Year 12 increased by 4.3%
  • residents with tertiary degrees increased by 2%.

Despite the rise in population, the unemployment rate remained stable at about 4% – well below the Australian and Queensland averages.

The number of residents at the same address that they were living in five years previously increased by 3.3%. So despite an influx of new workers, there are strong indications that locals no longer have to leave the region to find work.

In addition, in the last five years the retail trade sector has overtaken healthcare and social assistance as the region’s largest industry of employment. This rebuts claims that money being made in the region is not being spent there.

These figures indicate that the resources sector – which in this case is mostly the CSG industry – is making the Surat region more prosperous, stable and sustainable.