Professor John Quiggin
Professor John Quiggin
21 April 2016

The Beattie Government’s Smart State program deserves credit for the resilience of the State’s economy and labour market despite the end of the mining boom, according to analysis by a University of Queensland economist.

UQ School of Economics Professor John Quiggin said the vision of the Labor government contrasted sharply with the nostalgic ‘four pillars’ economic strategy (mining, agriculture, construction and tourism) that replaced it under the LNP government of Campbell Newman.

“The Smart State strategy recognised the reality that, in a modern economy, jobs come primarily from high-skilled, information-intensive sectors of the economy, rather than from extractive industries,” Professor Quiggin said. 

“For example, the employment in professional, scientific and technical services has risen from 3.5 per cent of the Queensland total in the 1980s to 7.5 per cent today.

“The Smart State includes health, education and other high-skilled services and accounts for more than 40 per cent of all jobs – a share that is likely to rise in the future.

“Over the same period, the employment share of agriculture and mining combined has fallen from 10 per cent to 5 per cent.

“Adding in construction and tourism, which have remained relatively stable, brings the total to about 20 per cent.”

Professor Quiggin said mining and agriculture would always be an important part of the Queensland economy.

"However, future employment growth will depend mainly on education and innovation,” he said.

“Proposed cuts to Commonwealth school spending and cuts in the public TAFE system represent the biggest single threat to the future envisaged in the Smart State strategy."

Professor Quiggin presented his analysis to the Queensland Jobs Growth Summit on 26 April.

The summit was presented by the UQ School of Economics and The Australian Institute, and was held at Premier's Hall, Parliament House Brisbane.

Other speakers included:

  • Deputy Premier, Minister for Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning and Minister for Trade and Investment, Jackie Trad
  • Minister for Environment and Heritage Protection and Minister for National Parks and the Great Barrier Reef, Dr Steven Miles 
  • Economist and commentator Saul Eslake-Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland CEO, Stephen Tait
  • AMWU Queensland State Secretary Rohan Webb, who is also President of the Queensland Council of Unions 
  • Queensland Nurses Union Assistant Secretary, Sandra Eales
  • Griffith University Vice-Chancellor, Professor Ian O'Connor
  • Queensland Tourism Industry Council CEO, Daniel Gschwind

For more information visit the Queensland Jobs Growth Summit event website.  

Media: Professor John Quiggin,