1318.3 - Qld Stats, Feb 2009  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 23/02/2009   
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1. Governance and Policy: Key Dates, Facts and Figures
Legislation, policies, world and local events impacting on the economy.

2. Population Impacts: Key Dates, Facts and Figures
Migration, births, deaths, marriages and divorces.

3. Labour: Key Dates, Facts and Figures
Employment, wages, costs and industrial relations.

4. Resource Industries: Key Dates, Facts and Figures
Agriculture, mining, electricity, gas and water, climate.

5. Non-resource Industries: Key Dates, Facts and Figures
Transport, manufacturing, construction, communication services, tourism.

6. Trade, Finance and Prices: Key Dates, Facts and Figures
Exports and Imports, financial markets, prices.



This feature article has been prepared by the Australian Bureau of Statistics to help commemorate the 150th anniversary of Queensland. This chronology of Queensland's economic journey presents, with a statistical flavour, some of the key dates, issues and events that helped shape the Queensland economy from 1859 to 2009. Some significant milestones from a governance, policy and social perspective are included in Chapter 1, while the remaining chapters are focused more on economic issues, events and data (including population impacts).

The article is organised into six chapters, or themes, each of which has its own chronology. The chapters include:

  • Governance and Policy: includes legislation, policies, major events and milestones for Queensland and its citizens.
  • Population Impacts: includes a selection of key dates, facts and figures on Queensland's population and demography.
  • Labour: contains a chronology of data, events, policies and issues on topics such as employment, wages and industrial relations.
  • Resource Industries: contains a chronology of data, events, policies and issues affecting industries such as agriculture, mining, and electricity gas and water. Includes some facts and figures from major climatic events such as droughts and floods.
  • Non-resource Industries: contains a chronology of data, events, policies and issues affecting industries such as manufacturing, transport and storage, 'tourism' and communication services.
  • Trade, Finance and Prices: contains key dates, facts and figures on Queensland's trade (overseas and interstate), prices (housing and consumer prices) and impacts the financial markets have had on the Queensland economy.

Many of the facts, figures and events chosen for the feature article have a state-wide focus, though some have had a broader Australian or even international impact, while a smaller number had more of an impact on a particular region or industry in Queensland.

Where possible, many of the milestones and events outlined in the chronologies are supplemented with supporting statistics and commentary. Data from some major economic indicators (e.g. Gross State Product, exports, imports, unemployment and the Consumer Price Index) are also drawn out and comparisons made over time.

The article would not have been possible without the efforts of a range of authors, journalists, historians, politicians, businesses, public servants and Queensland citizens who have either written about the great State of Queensland, or shaped its history in one way or the other. The wide variety of sources used in the preparation of this article are shown in the references section.

  • June 6, Letter Patent agreed to by Queen Victoria for separation of Queensland from New South Wales.
  • December 10, separation of Queensland proclaimed by the colony's first Governor Sir George Ferguson Bowen. The Governor finds ninepence (seven and a half cents) in the Treasury at the time of inauguration. However, this small sum quickly disappears with a thief breaking into the Treasury several nights after Bowen's arrival. The Governor arranges for money to be borrowed from the banks until revenue is received. Early revenue came largely from land revenue (including the rent and sale of land) and customs receipts from import duties. These two sources respectively accounted for 56.9% and 33.2% of revenue in 1860. (Import duties applied to alcohol, tobacco and cigars, tea, sugar, coffee and chicory, gold and opium).
  • Brisbane proclaimed a municipality.

  • Free education introduced in Queensland.

  • Introduction of company income tax.

  • The Queensland Constitution Bill, which would have resulted in the partition of Queensland into two or three provinces, is defeated in the legislative council.

  • The Australian colonies abolish the coexistence of differing local times. Common time zones are fixed at 150 degree longitude east of Greenwich for the eastern colonies, 135 degrees for South Australia and 120 degrees for West Australia. Previously many towns had used as many as three different local times: solar time, longitude time and railway timetable time.

  • Former colony of Queensland becomes a State of the Commonwealth of Australia.

  • Brisbane proclaimed a city. The population of the 'City of Brisbane' (using data from the Census of 31 March 1901) was 37,442 persons. However this excluded surrounding suburbs (56,505 persons) and the 'City of South Brisbane' (25,481 persons). The population of greater Brisbane at 31 March 1901 was 119,428 persons.
  • Employees in a range of retail establishments work up to 60 hours per week, while in hotel bars they work up to 72 hours per week.
  • The Commonwealth Franchise Act passed, enabling all women (with the exception of Indigenous women in some States including Queensland) to sit and vote in elections for the federal parliament.

  • Premier Philp's Sunday Newspaper Bill is an example of the attitudes and morals of the day. Under the bill, a person publishing, distributing, selling, circulating or disposing of any newspaper on Sunday is liable for a fine and possible forfeiture of plant and machinery.

  • Non-Indigenous Queensland women eligible to vote in state elections but not the right to stand for state parliament.
  • Plural voting (which allowed eligible men to vote in any electorate in which they held property) was abolished.

  • The Customs Tariff Act and Excise Tariff Act became Australian law in an attempt to encourage Australian industries.

  • World War I commences and continues to 1918.

  • Introduction of the War Income Tax Bill to fund Australia’s war effort. This enables the Australian Government to levy a tax on incomes for the first time.
  • Non-Indigenous Queensland women achieved the right to stand for state parliament.

  • Irene Longman becomes the first woman to be elected to the Queensland Parliament (holding the seat of Bulimba).

  • During the Great Depression, to cut costs and Government expenditure, basic wages are cut by 10% and salaries and wages of railway men and public servants are also reduced. The government tries to stimulate industry by a plan of public works, building projects and water and sewerage schemes.
  • To further reduce costs, the Commonwealth Financial Emergency Act is passed reducing the maternity allowance and means tested it to 1943. The Act also reduces invalid and old age pensions. The pension reductions are repealed in 1935.

  • Outbreak of World War II, continuing to 1945.

  • Rationing begins throughout Australia and does not end until a few years after the war.
  • Uniform federal income taxation commences, giving the Australian Government sole right to collect income tax. Several states, including Queensland, unsuccessfully fight the Act in the High Court. Pay as you earn tax (as opposed to pay by instalment) is then introduced in 1944.

  • Australian Government fixes the prices of goods and services.

  • Francis Forde becomes Queensland’s first Prime Minister. Mr Forde was caretaker Prime Minister for eight days after the death of John Curtin.

  • Free hospital service established in Queensland.

  • Annabelle Rankin elected to the Senate as the first Queensland female member of the Australian Parliament, and the first female federal minister with departmental responsibilities.

  • Strict import restrictions introduced to prevent further deterioration of Australia's Balance of Payments. Restrictions are also placed on the amount of money Australians can take overseas.

  • Legislation passed permitting Indigenous people the right to enrol and vote at federal elections. While enrolment for Indigenous people is voluntary at this time, for those enrolled voting is compulsory. It is not until 1984 that compulsory enrolment was required for all Indigenous Australians in federal elections.
  • Australia's involvement in Vietnam War commences (1962 to 1973).

  • Passing of the Elections Act Amendment Act 1965 permitting Indigenous Queenslanders to vote in state elections (with enrolment voluntary) and run as candidates for the first time.

  • End of ban on the employment of married women in the Commonwealth Public Service. The Public Service Act is amended to permit married women to be appointed as permanent officers in the Commonwealth Service and to allow female officers to retain their permanent status in the service after marriage. The Act is also amended to allow women to take leave during a confinement and to resume duty afterwards without loss of any rights.

  • Queenslander Neville Bonner becomes the first Indigenous person to be elected to the federal parliament as Senator for Queensland.
  • Voting in state elections is made compulsory for Indigenous Australians.

  • Australian government reduces all tariffs on imported goods by 25%.

  • Eric Deeral becomes the first Indigenous member of Queensland State Parliament.

  • Medibank introduced (later renamed 'Medicare'). It introduces a Commonwealth scheme of free treatment for public patients in public hospitals and subsidies to private hospitals to enable them to reduce their fees. It is eventually replaced by Medicare, with a 1% levy on incomes in 1983.

  • Commonwealth Games in Brisbane. Apart from the short term benefits provided by the visitors, athletes and officials, the infrastructure built to support the games (such as the games facilities and upgrades to roads and public transport), provide longer term economic benefits. A range of hotels, clubs, restaurants, cabarets and bistros in the Brisbane Statistical Division are permitted extended trading hours, a sign of the change in retail trading to come.

  • Australian Government announces further quotas and increased tariffs to ensure Australian steelmakers receive 80% of the domestic market.

  • Queensland’s first casino, Jupiters, opens on the Gold Coast.

  • Fitzgerald Inquiry into political corruption in Queensland commences.

  • World Expo 88 held in Brisbane with 18.5 million visits, including approximately 0.9 million visits by overseas visitors. Like the Commonwealth Games, 'Expo' is later credited with not only bringing both short term and some longer term economic benefits, but also cultural change in Brisbane.
  • Noticeable retail differences follow Expo including longer trading hours (permanent Sunday retail trading commenced in Brisbane in 1989), alfresco dining and a wider range of international restaurants. There is also the redevelopment of South Bank to a lively arts, entertainment and tourist precinct.
  • The longer term impact of World Expo ’88 on Queensland visitor numbers is not as clear as might be thought. In the ten years preceding Expo ’88, overseas visitors to Queensland increased at an average annual growth rate of 15.9%. While overseas visitor numbers increased by nearly 40% in 1988, the average annual growth rate over the next 10 years was slightly lower at 12.2%.
  • In 1988, Brisbane airport handles just over 900,000 passengers a year. By 2009 the airport handles nearly 18 million passengers.
  • Opening of Movie World studios on the Gold Coast. Some social commentators, such as demographer Bernard Salt, suggest the studios were a key driver in the burgeoning creative arts scene in Brisbane.

  • The end of Australia's two-airline policy.

  • Introduction of first legal poker machines in Queensland.
  • After a trial introduced in 1990, the Summer Time Repeal Bill is passed, bringing an end to daylight savings in Queensland.
  • Mabo decision establishes native title across Australia.
  • Leneen Forde commissioned as the first female Governor of Queensland.

  • September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States including the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon.

  • Queensland government releases 'Smart State Strategy', a policy initiative where the vision is for 'Queensland to develop into a knowledge-based economy and diversify its traditional economic base of mining and agriculture'.

  • First female leader of Queensland, with Anna Bligh sworn in as Premier.
  • Kevin Rudd becomes the first Queenslander to be Australian Prime Minister since Francis Forde in 1945.

  • Amalgamation of local government councils. 157 local government councils reduced to 73.
  • Queensland Governor Quentin Bryce becomes the first female Australian Governor-General.

  • On separation from the colony of New South Wales, Queensland's population is estimated at 23,520 persons, accounting for 2.1% of Australia's measured population. These figures exclude an unknown number of Indigenous persons. In 1861 the minimum estimate of the number of Indigenous people in Queensland was 60,000.
  • From 1859-1901, Queensland's non-Indigenous population increases from 23,520 to 506,721, an increase of more than twenty fold with an average annual growth rate of 7.6% per annum. By comparison, from 1901 to 2008, the average annual growth rate of the population was 2.0%.
  • Net migration (interstate and overseas) is the largest contributor to population growth in the State's early development (1859-1866), with large influxes of migrants attracted by free passage or gifts of land orders. Discoveries of gold in the 1870s and 1880s led to another influx of immigrants followed by a decline in the 1890s. With the exception of a brief period from 1909-1911 and the return of servicemen from WWI in 1919, natural increase in the population (births less deaths) outstrips growth due to net migration from 1888 to 1972. Between 1973 and 1984, the largest contributor to population growth varies between natural increase and net migration.

    From 1985 to the present, net migration is again the largest contributor to population growth. During this period, net interstate migration is the largest contributor to net migration to 1998, after which the largest contributor to net migration has varied, with net overseas migration exceeding net interstate migration from 2005-2007 (2008 data are not yet available).

  • The first Census of Queensland determines that the measured population of the colony is 30,059 non-Indigenous persons. Just over one-third (11,701) of this population is concentrated in Brisbane, Ipswich, Toowoomba and Warwick. Only one person, a clergyman, refuses to answer the Census questions in 1861. He is not prosecuted.
  • The causes of death registered in 1861 bear little resemblance to those used today. Fever, teething, laryngitis, cold, old age, liver complaint and debility were listed among causes of death. The major cause of death in 1861 (23.8%) was an external cause, such as drowning, falls or wounds from firearms. In 2007, the most common causes of death were heart disease and cancer.

  • Queensland Registrar-General reports Queensland's estimated population as 74,036 persons, an estimate considered to be 'pretty near the truth'. (The latest historical ABS population estimates revised the number to 73,578 persons).
  • Queensland's sex ratio reaches a historical high of 161.4 males per 100 females. By 1900 this ratio falls to 125.3 and by the end of World War II (1945) it falls to 105.5. The ratio falls below 100, i.e. fewer males than females for the first time in 1998 and has stayed below 100 since. At 30 June 2007, the ratio is 99.7 males per 100 females.

  • The number of Queensland divorces hits double figures (11) in a year for the first time. There were 3,123 marriages in the same year. By comparison in 2006 there were 12,175 divorces and 25,043 marriages.

  • The start of six consecutive calendar years of net migration out of Queensland. Queensland Yearbooks suggest that depressed economic conditions and severe drought were key reasons for the decline.

  • Net migration falls for three consecutive years, by a total of 32,529 persons due to Australia’s involvement in World War I. These numbers were only partially offset with the return of servicemen and new immigrants in 1918 and 1919.

  • The Queensland population exceeds 1,000,000 persons.

  • 'Full-blood' Aborigines are officially counted as part of the Australian population for the first time.

  • Population change from net migration (interstate and overseas) outstrips natural increase (births minus deaths) for the first time since 1888.

  • Queensland population passes 2 million (36 years after reaching 1 million persons).

  • Queensland becomes the first state to abolish death duties. This policy is said to have led to a disproportionate influx of retirees to Queensland until other states match the policy.

  • Queensland population passes 3 million (18 years since reaching 2 million persons).

  • Queensland population reaches 4 million (13 years after reaching 3 million persons, and taking 31 years to double from 2 million persons).


  • Pacific Islanders (known at the time as Kanakas) are recruited to provide manual labour on the sugar plantations (they are later also employed on cotton fields and stations).

  • Delegates from Queensland trade unions meet at Trades Hall in Brisbane to organise a campaign for an eight-hour day. The working week in 1876 is generally six days.

  • An estimated 13,000 Pacific Islanders are working in Queensland. Abuses by employers result in several acts being passed in an attempt to control the abuse.

  • Shearer's strike. The Employers' Federation insists upon the recognition of the principal of freedom of contract, i.e. the right of any worker to accept work from any employer and the right of any employer to engage any man wanting work. The shearers object to freedom of contract and non-union labour is brought in. A state of virtual martial law is enforced.

  • The Commonwealth Invalid and Old Age Pension Act introduced, however 'Aboriginal natives of Australia' are excluded. It is not until 1966 that all exclusions on racial grounds are removed.

  • General strike called as a result of the Brisbane Tramways Company suspension of employees for wearing union badges.
  • Commonwealth maternity allowance is introduced but no allowance is payable to 'women who are Asiatics, Aboriginal natives of Australia, Papua or the Islands of the Pacific'. It is not until 1966 that all exclusions on racial grounds are removed.

  • The eight hour day introduced.

  • By 1920, almost one-third of Queensland workers in the primary sector compared to the Australian average of one-fifth.

  • 44 hour week adopted for all Queensland employees.

  • Queensland's unemployment rate reaches 19.6%, although it is thought to have peaked at a rate higher than this in previous years (but was not officially measured outside Census years apart from among union members).

  • The National Security Act is passed during World War II to mobilise the workforce. Important industries are declared 'essential' and certain occupations 'reserved', while other industries and occupations are phased out. These labour controls are not lifted until May 1946.

  • Female wages raised to 75% of male wages.
  • Unemployment and sickness benefits introduced under the Commonwealth and Sickness Benefits Act 1944. 'Aboriginal natives of Australia' were disqualified under certain conditions and it is not until 1966 that all exclusions on racial grounds are removed.

  • Two weeks annual leave approved by the Industrial Court. This is later increased to three weeks in the 1960s and four weeks in the 1970s.

  • The Commonwealth Arbitration Court gives approval to the 40 hour working week nationally.

  • The main industries of employment are Manufacturing (20.6%); Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting (20.4%); Transport, storage and communication (9.7%); and Building and construction (9.4%). By comparison in 2008, employment is more evenly spread across industries with the main industries of employment being Retail trade (15.6%); Property and business services (11.6%); Construction (10.8%); Health and community services (10.0%); and Manufacturing (9.2%). By 2008, the contribution of the Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting industry to total employment falls to 3.8%.

  • Waterside workers strike for 23 days over issues involving work practices and control of hiring.

  • State of emergency is declared by the Queensland government due to industrial unrest at Mt Isa. This is repeated in 1964.

  • The first quarterly labour force survey results are released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics showing Queensland's unemployment rate at 1.5%. This rate has not been achieved or bettered since.

  • Commonwealth Arbitration Court rules that women should receive equal pay for equal work from 1 January 1972.

  • State of emergency declared in response to a strike by transport workers that threatened food supplies.

  • A centralised wage fixing scheme is reintroduced with wages adjusted twice yearly in accordance with moves in the CPI.

  • Unemployment (in trend terms) reaches double digits in August 1984 and remains above 10.0% until August 1987.
  • The main industries of employment in Queensland in 1984 are Retail trade (154,300 persons or 15.3% of Queensland's total employed); Manufacturing (124,800 persons or 12.3% of total employed); Agriculture, forestry and fishing (94,200 or 9.3% of total employed); and Health and Community Services (81,200 or 8.0% of total employed).
    By comparison in November 2008 the main industries of employment in Queensland are Retail trade (336,600 persons or 15.2% of total employed); Property and business services (260,200 or 11.7% of total employed); Construction (246,000 or 11.1% of total employed) and Health and Community Services (214,700 or 9.7% of total employed).

  • South East Queensland Electricity Board (SEQEB) dispute with Electrical Trade Union over plans to introduce private contractors. Queensland Cabinet orders the retrenchment of 1,000 unionists under state of emergency provisions.

  • Australian Pilots dispute. Breakdown of negotiations between the Australian Federation of Air Pilots and the management of the government owned Australian Airlines, with substantial impacts on interstate air services (and tourism) for months. The Royal Australian Air Force provides some limited domestic air services to ease the impact of the strike.

  • Wharf strikes. The Maritime Union of Australia members strike when Patrick Stevedoring retrenches union members. The ensuing four weeks of dispute precipitates changes to the Australian waterfront. The Government pass the Stevedoring Levy Act 1998 to establish the Maritime Industry Finance Company (MIFCO). It provides for the payment of redundancy entitlements to waterside workers leaving the industry, as part of the ongoing waterfront reform process.

  • May 2007, Queensland's trend unemployment rate hits 3.6%, the lowest rate recorded since 1974 (when it was 2.6% using the unemployment definitions at the time).

  • December quarter 2008 release of ABS monthly Labour Force statistics shows Queensland's trend unemployment rate is 3.8%. Since July 2004, in trend estimate terms, the Queensland unemployment rate has been lower than the national unemployment rate.


  • At separation, Queensland is heavily dependent on pastoral activities, in particular sheep and cattle (wool accounts for 95.4% of exports and contributes 70% of government revenue). The spread of pastoral settlement is rapid continuing until the mid 1880s. By comparison, in the years following separation agricultural production is relatively small and during the 1860s the only crop to make substantial headway is cotton. After 1880, sugar contributes significantly to the economy, and by 1900 had grown to 7% of exports. Wheat was another key initial crop.
  • Since separation, the great variation in climate, soil and vegetation in Queensland permits the production under outdoor conditions of practically every economic crop and type of animal product. Crops vary from stone fruit in Stanthorpe to jack fruit from the tropical north.

  • The colony's livestock includes 3,166,802 sheep, 432,890 cattle, 23,504 horses and 7,147 pigs.
  • Land Acts are introduced (designed to promote rapid occupation) offering fourteen-year leases to those who stocked their land. By 1866 the settled area of the colony had more than doubled.

  • The Peak Downs copper discovery (part of the Copperfield prospect) leads to Queensland’s first copper mine. 17,000 tonnes of copper is reported to have been produced from mining and smelting from 1862 to 1877.

  • Mackay's Pioneer River is declared an official port of entry for vessels from overseas.

  • Queensland's first commercial production of sugar occurs at Ormiston, Brisbane.
  • Serious flooding impacts on the entire colony.

  • Queensland's first gas lighting is demonstrated in Brisbane businesses.

  • The onset of the financial crisis sees a number of unemployed turn to fossicking for gold.
  • Maize accounts for approximately half the land under cultivation. Very basic technology and the poor state of the roads discourage large scale cultivation and marketing in the early years of the colony.

  • Large copper discover at Cloncurry in northwest Queensland. Between 1910 and 1920 the Cloncurry field is Australia's greatest copper producer.
  • The discovery of Gold at Gympie by James Nash ignites a gold rush which is timely for the economy of the State still in the grip of a recession. It is reported that overnight Maryborough becomes a ghost town, hundreds flock from Brisbane, Gladstone and Rockhampton and there are even reports of miners, not having the price of a steamer ticket, walking from Melbourne to the goldfield. At its height, sixteen thousand diggers were on the Gympie field. The field is worked for 60 years, reopening to modern exploration in 1980.

  • Flooding affects much of the colony, with 15 lives lost at Clermont and heavy stock losses.

  • Gold discovered at Charters Towers. Charters Towers becomes the colony's premier goldfield, and for a time Queensland's second largest city. By 1910 the mining boom in the town had subsided.

  • Palmer River gold discovery. An estimated one hundred tonne of gold is eventually extracted. The discovery leads to a large influx of miners, including seventeen thousand Chinese and one thousand four hundred Europeans by 1876. Cooktown was established as the port for the new goldfield. Racist clashes soon follow, with legislation introduced in 1877 banning Asiatic and Africans from new goldfields until three years after discovery. In 1890, the New Goldfields Act extends the three years to an indefinite period. In addition, a Chinese Immigration Act places a poll tax of ten pounds on every Chinese person entering the colony, leading to a significant reduction in Chinese immigration.

  • Hodgkinson gold discovery. While the mine booms for several years, most of the mining is reef mining rather than alluvial gold mining.
  • Queensland’s first 'Ekka' or Royal Queensland Show (titled the Queensland Intercolonial Exhibition in 1876). On opening day, a public holiday is declared and 17,000 people attend the first day (Brisbane's population at the time was only 22,000 people).

  • The discovery of the rich Mount Morgan gold field in 1882 provides a tale of contrasting fortunes. The Gordon brothers, graziers, suffering big losses from drought and poisonous weeds, are instrumental in leading the Morgan brothers to the rich mountain now known as Mount Morgan. The Morgans, realising something of the potential of the find purchase 259 hectares at the equivalent of $2.47 per hectare (the standard price for grazing land at the time). It became the richest single gold mine in the world.
  • First use of artesian water with government bore at Cunnamulla. The drought between 1884 and 1886 also leads the government to sink bores in badly affected drought areas. Eight hundred bores are sunk in western Queensland in the following sixteen years, mostly privately owned.
  • The first electric power display on December 9. Electricity is subsequently supplied to the GPO in Brisbane in 1888. By 1893, 91 consumers near the GPO are connected. These include Parliament House, the Roma Street railway yards, the government printing office and the Brisbane Courier Newspaper. Other types of businesses operating in the Brisbane CBD at the time include boarding houses, hotels and a range of Chinese merchants.
  • First shipment of frozen meat leaves Brisbane for London after previous unsuccessful attempts from Bowen.

  • Jackie Howe sets the record for hand shearing 321 sheep in just seven hours and forty minutes.

  • Three cyclones affect south east Queensland in February, resulting in severe floods. Brisbane is cut it off from the rest of the State. The Indooroopilly Railway Bridge and Victoria Bridge are washed away. There are reports of people swimming in Queen Street.

  • Cyclone Mahina strikes at Bathurst Bay near Cape Melville in Queensland. It completely destroys a pearling fleet, with over 400 people losing their lives (the largest loss of lives from a cyclone in Australian history as at January, 2009). Massive flooding affected many Aboriginal communities, with around 100 Indigenous Australians thought to have perished.

  • The twentieth century begins in the middle of a long and costly drought (starting in 1895). It is most severe in 1902 and lasts to 1904. The whole of Australia is affected and Queensland suffers heavy losses. Sheep numbers fall from a high of 21,708,300 in 1893 to 7,214,000 in 1903, and they do not reach 1893 levels again until 1914. (This was despite efforts to transfer sheep on the inland railways from beyond Winton to the eastern tablelands). Cattle numbers, after being as high as 7,013,000 in 1895, fall to 2,481,700 in 1904. Horse numbers fall from a high of 480,500 in 1899 to 399,100 in 1903. Wool production, which was around 50,000 tonnes in 1895, falls to 19,100 tonne in 1902.
  • By 1900, camels dominate transport in nearly half the Australian continent, operating in areas too dry for teams of horses or bullocks and too sparsely populated for railways. Like bullock and horse teams, strings of pack camels meet trains at the railheads and load goods for towns and stations further inland.
  • Annual output of coal recorded as 0.5m tonnes (worth approximately $350,000). By comparison, in 2007-08, Queensland produces 120.4m tonnes of coal (valued at $13.1 billion).

  • Wheat production begins to accelerate both in terms of area (from 5,241 hectares 5 years earlier to 32,093 hectares) and production (from 3,000 tonnes to 32,000 tonnes). By the 1980s and 1990s the area of wheat harvested grows to over 1 million hectares with close to 2 million tonnes of grain produced.

  • Australia in the midst of another major drought, peaking in 1914 and 1915. It severely reduces agricultural output and places even greater strains on the economy.

  • The Commonwealth Prickly Pear Board formed to investigate control of the pest. By 1934 the pest is under control, opening up large tracks of land that had previously been worthless for grazing or agriculture, especially in Queensland.

  • John Miles, while watering his horses during his 1923 expedition into the Northern Territory, saw what he thought was mineralised stone glistening in the hills around Mount Isa. His investigations lead to the significant discovery of copper, silver, lead and zinc at Mount Isa. Mount Isa becomes one of the largest producers of lead and silver in the Western world.

  • The cane toad is introduced in Northern Queensland by officers of the Australian Government’s Council for Scientific and Industrial Research to control the grey-backed beetle which was destroying the sugar crop.

  • Mineral sands production commences at Burleigh Heads.

  • Whaling commences at Tangalooma on Moreton Island, Queensland's first and only whaling station, operating until 1962.

  • Discovery of Uranium at Mary Kathleen.

  • Discovery of Bauxite in Weipa, with the site becoming one of the largest bauxite fields in the world.

  • Sand mining begins on Moreton Island (to 1958).

  • Development of coking coal fields in the Bowen Basin of Central Queensland. The fields eventually account for more than 20% of coal exported from Queensland.

  • Australia's first proven commercial oil discovery at Moonie.

  • Ampol opens first Australian-owned oil refinery at Lytton, Brisbane.

  • Gladstone alumina plant opens.

  • Barney Point coal load facility opens at Gladstone.

  • Natural gas from Moonie and other fields is piped to Brisbane making it the first capital in Australia to receive a supply of natural gas.

  • Mineral sands mining commences on Fraser Island (the Australian Government subsequently rules to cease mining on the island in 1976).

  • Brisbane floods. The Insurance Council of Australia estimates that the economic impact of the floods was $980m at the time, but insurance cover was only $68m.

  • The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Agreement with the Australian Government signed.

  • Much of Queensland records one of the hottest, driest summers on record. The accompanying drought causes huge stock losses.

  • Queensland government approves sand mining on Moreton Island again.

  • Widespread rainfall ends what is considered the worst drought on record for 100 years.

  • Opening of Dalrymple Bay coal terminal (38km south of Mackay), which becomes the largest coal loading facility in the world.

  • Logging ceases on Fraser Island in November 1991.

  • A dust storm over 1,200kms long strips an estimated 3 million tonne of fertile soil from west Queensland farms.

  • Sale by the Queensland Government of the Gladstone Powerhouse to Comalco for $1.7b. This is one of the world's biggest transactions in 1994.

  • 38 shires in Queensland are drought-declared, representing 15% of the state. Further individual drought-affected properties bring the total to 60% of the Queensland land mass. The drought in many of these areas continues for many years, with 29 Regional Councils (noting amalgamation of councils in March 2008) either part or fully drought declared in December 2008.

  • The beginning of what has been termed the 'resources boom'. The resources boom provides a strong stimulus to the Queensland economy in terms of exports, investment, employment and indirect impacts on property and other markets. In 2003, indicators of the potential growth that lay ahead include a report by Pricewaterhouse Coopers indicating the world’s 30 largest listed mining companies reported a 95% increase in aggregate net profits for 2003, up from US$5.8bn to US$11.5bn. Further, the RBA Index of Commodity Prices increases by 6.4% from 2002-03 to 2003-04. The impact on the value of exports flows through a little later, with the coal mining and metal ore mining industries experiencing strong growth in the value of exports from 2004-05. Commodity prices generally continue to experience strong growth through to July 2008, after which there are a series of falls in the index.

  • Cyclone Larry hits north Queensland directly over Innisfail. In economic terms, there is widespread damage to homes, buildings and extensive damage to crops including banana and sugar crops.

  • Global financial crisis leads to an economic slowdown both in Australia and internationally, with major Australian trading partners such as China affected. Australian (and Queensland) resource boom begins to slow with production cutbacks, shutdowns and job losses in the mining industry.


  • Horses and bullock drays are the only means of land transport and the only formed road is between Brisbane and Ipswich. Regardless, the mail service extends as far north as Rockhampton, with the delivery of mail at times a hazardous occupation (with dangers such as bushrangers).
  • Sea transport is the key link in very early Queensland transport (for people and freight such as food and materials). The location of ports (over the period of Queensland’s history) explains a great deal of the relations between districts and coastal cities. The four shipping ports in the colony at the time are Brisbane, Rockhampton, Maryborough, and Port Curtis (Gladstone). It is not until 1903 that the central district is linked with the southern by other than sea transport, and the coastal railway system is not completed until 1924. Until then, the trade of the central and northern ports of Queensland is largely distinct with that of Brisbane.
  • The first Ports in Brisbane are in the city and south Brisbane reaches of the river. The city's first trading commodity is timber logs from the local pine and cedar forests. The logs are rafted down the river and across Moreton Bay to Dunwich (North Stradbroke Island), where sailing ships load the cargo and head for Sydney. The shallow entrance at the Brisbane river bar prevented vessel movement until dredging of the river in the 1860s. Since that time, port operations gradually move downstream to the current Fisherman Islands location. In 2009, Port facilities extend upriver for about 15km and include bulk commodity and general cargo wharves, a cruise terminal, and a dockyard facility.

  • Manufacturing in the new colony, according to the 1860 Queensland Registrar General’s Statistical Register, was limited to '… a few steam saw mills and flour mills, soap and candle manufactories, and boiling down establishments'.

  • On 25 February 1864, construction of the first railway line in Queensland begins at Ipswich and the people of the town are granted a public holiday in honour of the occasion. To save money a narrow gauge is used. The 38km rail line opens from Ipswich to Grandchester (between Ipswich and Toowoomba). Grandchester was originally known as Bigges Camp, however Governor Bowen considers this sounded like 'Big Scamp' and suggests the name be changed to reflect the importance of the new railway. 'Big' is changed to “Grand” and the Latin word 'chester' is used for 'camp'. By 1867 the line extends to Toowoomba.

  • Cobb and Co. coaches establish their Brisbane office. The coaches carried both passengers and mail. Coaching routes subsequently follow the gold rushes. By 1900, the company is using 9,000 horses a day and travelling 31,000 kms a week. Competition from trains, motor vehicles and aeroplanes sees the end of coach travel in 1924.

  • Walkers Ltd railway locomotive factory established in Maryborough, making its first locomotive for the Queensland government in 1897. It later builds naval ships during the Second World War.

  • Start of a decade long burst of railway building in connecting ports with the interior by short lines. A downturn in the economy and financial difficulties slow railway progress during the 1890s and the early years of the twentieth century. However the second decade of the twentieth century sees a burst of growth again including the extension of the north coast railway and construction of the great western railway.

  • The Queensland Great Northern Railway (Line) begins, initially opened to connect the Charters Towers goldfields to Townsville. The line connects both miners and export and import supplies to the nearest port. Wool, exported to Great Britain, is the most significant export at the time, though gold continues to grow in significance as an export. The rail line is then extended into grazing country as far as Hughenden in 1887 and Winton. In 2009, Mount Isa is the terminus of the Great Northern Line.

  • Brisbane's first tramway. The trams are horse-drawn until 1897, when electric trams make their appearance.

  • The first passenger train from Brisbane to Sydney runs on 17 January 1888. By 1901, 4,510 kilometres of line in Queensland is opened to traffic.

  • First electric tram runs in Brisbane.

  • 2,078 factories operate in the colony, employing 25,953 persons. These include 40 tanneries, 22 breweries, 199 butter and cheese factories, 66 sugar mills and 46 boot and shoe factories.

  • Overseas arrivals to Queensland in the calendar year reported as 6,494 persons. Growth in overseas arrivals is slow and quite erratic for the next 60 years or so. It is not until the 1960s that overseas arrivals begin to increase significantly, growing from 11,596 in 1960 to 77,886 persons in 1970 (an increase of over 570%). By 1987, overseas arrivals exceed 500,000 persons for the first time. By 2007, overseas arrivals increase to over 2.6 million persons a year.

  • A period of economic growth. Commencement of several new infrastructure programmes including the extension of the North Coast Railway to Cairns, construction of the Great Western Railway and several other railways to develop agricultural areas.
  • Norman Wright begins shipbuilding at Bulimba, Brisbane (the business is still operating in 2009). During WWII, the yard builds patrol boats for the navy and is tasked with refitting all types of small vessels for cargo work.

  • Qantas founded. Air taxi work and joy-riding are the main services until 1922 when a scheduled airmail and passenger service between Charleville and Cloncurry begins. From there the business grew.

  • First radio broadcast in Queensland.

  • The last Cobb and Co coach runs from Yuleba to Surat.
  • Brisbane to Cairns rail line completed.

  • Charles Kingsford Smith makes the first flight across the pacific, and late in the same year makes the first non-stop flight across Australia.
  • The Flying Doctor Service is launched using Qantas aircraft.

  • Charles Kingsford Smith and Charles Ulm, founders of Australian National Airlines, begin the Brisbane to Sydney air service.

  • Brisbane’s Evans Deakin shipyard begins work on the first of 17 naval ships.

  • Port of Brisbane Cairncross Graving (dry) Dock opens to meet demand for ship repair facilities.

  • Brisbane's first television demonstration at Lennon’s Hotel.

  • Diesel locomotives gradually begin to replace steam trains in Queensland.

  • Queensland's first motor car body manufacturing industry established at Eagle Farm, by Charles Hope Ltd for the British Motor Corporation.

  • The Bruce Highway linking Brisbane and Cairns is completed. This encourages a growth in tourism in the north of the state (with shorter road travel times) and improves road transport links.

  • In the 1960s, the shipping industry is revolutionised by the worldwide adoption of uniform sized containers with ports no longer handling cargo piece by piece. In Brisbane, containerisation prompts a change in cargo handling technology, and by 1969 the port’s first container terminal is built in the Hamilton reach of the river.
  • Brisbane's tram service ceases.

  • Electrification of the Queensland rail network commences.

  • Port of Brisbane Authority formed with the primary objective to build a new deepwater port at the mouth of Brisbane river at Fisherman's Island.

  • Cairns international airport opens, increasing tourism to the north of the state.

  • Electric trains commence operating in Brisbane.

  • Opening of new international airport at Townsville and Gold Coast Airport Terminal at Coolangatta.

  • Overseas arrivals to Queensland exceed 500,000 persons for the calendar year.

  • Nationwide public dialup access to the Internet commences in Australia. By the 2006 Census, 63.8% of Queensland dwellings have access to the Internet.
  • First shipping service between Brisbane and mainland China.

  • The end of Australia's two-airline policy.

  • Arrival of the 'World Wide Web', courtesy of Tim Berners-Lee at CERN near Geneva. The explosive growth of the web begins in 1994.

  • Overseas arrivals to Queensland in the calendar year exceed 1 million persons for the first time.

  • The Australian Bureau of Statistics releases its first official measure of the contribution of tourism to the Australian economy. The figures show tourism accounts for 4.5% of Australia’s Gross Domestic Product in 1997-98. The contribution of tourism to Queensland’s economy is not directly measured.
  • The State Government announces Richard Branson's Virgin Airlines will set up its Australian headquarters in Brisbane.

  • Overseas arrivals to Queensland in the calendar year exceed 2 million persons.

  • Overseas arrivals to Queensland exceed 2.6 million persons during the calendar year. By comparison, interstate visitors to Queensland (visits of 1 night or longer) exceed 5.8 million, while intrastate visitors to Queensland (visitors of 1 night or longer) exceed 12.1 million visitors.


  • Despite its infancy, the value of the new colony's exports (interstate and foreign) is $100,476 of which wool (clean and greasy) accounts for 95.4%. Wool is only traded with New South Wales at the time. Imports (interstate and foreign) are valued at $30,769 and are made up mostly of clothing and shoes, drapery, groceries (including tea, sugar and coffee), flour and alcohol. A very small number of commodities are exported directly to the East Indies (south-east Asia).

  • Total imports to the colony are valued at $1,467,000 and total exports $1,045,000. However, interstate trade makes up the vast majority of this accounting for 92.2% of import value and 99.9% of export value. Nearly all of the interstate trade is with New South Wales (99.4% of imports and 99.9% of exports).
  • Indirectly over 90% of the value of trade is with Great Britain. The direct trade with New South Wales is the result of the new colony's dependency on New South Wales, with most of Queensland's merchantable transactions continuing to be with Sydney merchants. The Queensland Registrar Generals 1860 report also alludes to the colony's absence of a 'safe, commodious harbour for sea-going ships of large tonnage' due to a lack of steam dredging by the Government of New South Wales. This necessitated the use of Sydney as the intermediary for Queensland's trade with the English market.
  • Pastoral products are key exports with wool, livestock, hides and skins, meat and tallow (animal fat) making up 93.6% of the value of exports. Wool is directed exported to New South Wales only, and accounts for 84.9% of total export value in 1860. Other examples of 1860 exports include dugong oil and candles.
  • Key imports (in value terms) are drapery (21.4%) and flour 11.7% (most of which is directly imported from Australian colonies). Some of the more unusual imports include chalk, swords, snuff tobacco, fox hounds, pipes, and ice (from Australian colonies).
  • In 1860, Queensland shipping ports discharge (import) 0.05m tonne of cargo while also shipping (export) 0.04m tonne of cargo. In 1909, 1.6m tonne of cargo is imported and 1.6m tonne is also exported. By 1958-59, 1.8m tonne of cargo is imported and 2.5m tonne of cargo is exported. By 2007-08, Queensland ports import 40.3m tonne of cargo, while 199.3m tonnes are exported.

  • Among the prices contained in Pugh’s Queensland Almanac and Law Calendar of 1861, house rents are the equivalent of 35c to 70c per room per week, beef 5.5c to 6.4c per kg, bread 10c per 1.8kg loaf, and potatoes 3.7c per kg. [Note the similarities between bread and beef prices on a per kilo basis.]

  • Financial crisis. In London, the failure of the Agra and Masterman's Bank, which was financing the Queensland railway loan, results in the supply of funds being cut off and all public works in the colony practically cease. Serious riots break out among retrenched railway workers. Immigration and public spending are also suspended. It is not until a bill is passed to raise money by the issue of Treasury Bills, that the credit of the government is restored.

  • By 1870 pastoral products fall to 73.0% of the value of total interstate and foreign exports (down from 93.6% in 1860). In terms of foreign exports (which comprise 26.4% of total export value in 1870), wool accounts for 76.3% of the export value.
  • Foreign imports account for 27.8% of the value of total imports.

  • By 1880, pastoral products account for 56.5% of the value of total exports, but marine products, minerals (mostly gold) and sugar begin to rise in prominence in a slowly diversifying economy. Individually, wool is still the largest export item, accounting for 40.2% of total export value (interstate and foreign), but gold's contribution to the value of total exports rises to 23.8%.
  • Foreign exports account for 26.6% of the value of total exports. Wool is the main foreign export, accounting for 74.1% of the foreign export value.
  • Foreign imports rise to 33.3% of the value of total imports.

  • Brisbane Stock Exchange opens.

  • Interstate exports still exceed foreign exports in value terms, accounting for 71.1% of total exports. Foreign imports exceed interstate imports by this time, accounting for 54.6% of the value of Queensland imports.
  • Pastoral products account for the majority of the value of total exports (43.0%), but the contribution of mining commodities continues to rise (38.0%). Individually, wool accounts for 30.0% and gold 26.0% of total exports.
  • Wool (74.0%) is the major foreign export in value terms. Gold accounts for less than 1% of the value of foreign exports at this time.
  • Major contributors (in value terms) to total imports include hardware, machinery, vehicles and metals (10.5%); wheat and wheat products (9.4%); wine, beer and spirits (6.3%); and shoes and clothing 6.1%.
  • The United Kingdom is still the main origin of foreign imports, accounting for 75% of the value of foreign imports.

  • Financial crises. The 1893 financial crises and the global financial crises over 100 years later (2008-09) appear to have a number of similarities. Leading up to the crises in 1893 there is rapid growth in bank lending to fund growth in building and infrastructure investment. However, the global economy changes in 1893 when asset values (in particular real estate) fall substantially.
    According to Richard Brandweiner (Perpetual's General Manager of Investments) in his 2008 speech 'The Perennial Cause of Financial Crises', '(prior to 1893)… banks chased market share, offering innovative new sources of capital and remarkably low interest rates and lending money at increasingly high loan to value ratios… Things started to change when liquidity dried up in the global financial system and credit for Australian banks and finance companies stopped almost overnight… Some 'lower quality' borrowers began to feel the pinch and the number of defaults increased'.
    A number of banks run out of funds as investors attempt to retrieve deposits, with rumours of bank collapse adding to the run on the banks. The Federal Bank of Australia in Melbourne runs out of cash and closes. Around Australia, 54 of the 64 banks operating are forced to close (including 8 of the 11 banks of issue in the Queensland colony) as depositors struggle to retrieve their savings. Some re-open, calling up state capital, and compulsorily convert many deposits into shares. According to Brandweiner, the flow on impact of the financial crises on the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the colonies was a fall of 17 per cent in 1893, with GDP not returning to the 1891 level until a decade later.
  • Gold, pastoral products and sugar are the key exports, accounting for 91.0% of total export value. In terms of individual commodities, gold accounts for 29.4%, wool 22.9%, meat 16.3%, sugar 7.0% and livestock 6.2%. New South Wales is the main destination of total exports in value terms (49.6%), with the United Kingdom accounting for 34.1% (and most of the foreign export value). Interstate exports account for 56.7% of Queensland's total exports in 1900.
  • Meat (32.6%) exceeds wool (31.1%) as the major foreign export (in value terms), but it is more than 50 years before this occurs again.
  • Major imports (combined foreign and interstate) in value terms include food and food stuffs and articles of direct domestic use (25.7%); clothing and materials (24.5%); and metals (19.1%). Major importers in value terms include United Kingdom (43.0%), New South Wales (34.1%) and the United States (5.0%). 60% of total imports are from foreign countries.
  • In 1900, revenue exceeds receipts by around $100,000, with this surplus used to reduce public debt. In terms of total revenue, custom receipts accounted for 31.9% of the total, while railway receipts accounted for 31.0%. Interest on public debt was the largest item of public expenditure, accounting for 29.5% of total expenditure, with expenditure on railways the next highest contributor at 20.9% (equivalent to $1.9m).

  • At the time of federation, Australia's tax to GDP ratio is estimated at around 5%. This ratio remains reasonably constant until the introduction of income tax in 1915. By the end of the Second World War, tax revenue grows to over 22% of GDP (due to introduction of government support programs, such as the Widows' Pension in 1942 and Unemployment Benefit in 1945).
    Tax revenues decline during the 1950s and by 1963-64 the tax to GDP ratio is around 18%. In the early 1970s, tax revenue increases significantly, partly driven by funding requirements for social programs such as the introduction of free higher education. Since the late 1980s Australia's overall tax to GDP ratio has been relatively stable and in 2008 was around 30% of GDP.

  • Wool accounts for 51.4% of foreign export value, meat 20.2% and, with the diary industry growing, butter's contribution to foreign exports increases to 9.2%. (Interstate trade is not estimated between 1909 and 1935).
  • Queensland's foreign trade (in goods) surplus starts to grow, with foreign exports exceeding imports by $5.4m in 1910.

  • A period of economic growth.

  • The years following WWI see rapidly rising prices, particularly for basic commodities such as foodstuffs and clothing. The government of the day introduces 'The Profiteering Prevention Act of 1920' which provides for a Commissioner of Prices with power to fix the price of any commodity.
  • The value of foreign exports in 1920-21 ($30.3m) is nearly double that from 10 years earlier with most of the increase shared across wool, butter and meat exports. Wool accounts for 41.0% of foreign export value, meat 24.5% and butter 19.5%.
  • The United Kingdom is still the main destination for foreign exports (73.0%), followed by Belgium which accounts for 7.9%.
  • Foreign imports more than double from 1910 values ($10.9m to $23.7m). Hardware, machinery, vehicles, metals and metal goods account for nearly a third of the value of foreign imports (32.7%). The United Kingdom accounts for the majority of the value of foreign imports (62.7%) followed by the United States with 21.0%.

  • Wall Street Crash. October 28 and 29 are the second and third largest one-day losses (in percentage terms) for the Dow Jones Index (as at January 2009, October 19 1987 remains the largest one-day loss). The 1929 losses are 12.8% and 11.7% respectively. After the crash one out of five U.S. banks fail, causing a significant contraction of the available money supply.

  • Foreign imports fall to nearly half the 1928 level (to $11.3m). By 1930, the United Kingdom is still the main source (in value terms) of foreign imports, although its contribution falls to 44.8%. The United States provides 24.7% of the value of foreign imports in this year.
  • Foreign exports fall by 15% on 1928 levels (to $32.4m), and continue to fall for the next two years. One of the reasons for the fall is declining commodity prices for items such as wool and wheat. Wool is the most significant individual commodity exported, accounting for 41.1% of the value of exports.
  • The United Kingdom is still the main destination of exports (accounting for 62.5% of the value of foreign exports), with Germany, France, Belgium and Japan accounting for between 6.0% and 7.5% each.

  • The Australian currency is devalued from 1.25 to 1 Stirling.

  • Queensland emerges from the gloom of the Great Depression with employment levels restored, stimulation from public works expenditure and restoration of wool, wheat and metal prices to pre-depression levels.

  • Foreign imports fall to $14.5m, down from $15.7m five years earlier (mainly due to the war).
  • The United Kingdom still accounts for approximately three-quarters of overseas exports, and 42.7% of imports.
  • Wool (30.4%) is still the main foreign export in value terms followed by meat (21.9%), sugar (19.1%) and butter (18.1%).

  • Australian Government fixes the prices of goods and services.

  • The value of foreign exports rise by over 530% on 1940-41 levels (to $320.6m). The increase is due to significantly higher commodity prices rather than an increase in the volume of trade. In 1950-51, wool accounts for 64.3% of foreign export value, while sugar (9.0%), meat (8.3%) and butter (5.3%) are other significant contributors.
  • Similarly, foreign imports grow significantly over this period ($14.5m to $134.8m). This is largely due to increased volumes of goods compared to the war time levels. The major contributors to the value of foreign imports include motor vehicles and parts (21.7%); machinery and appliances (19.0%); and textiles and piece goods (10.8%).
  • Between 1940-41 and 1950-51, the proportion of foreign exports to total export value increases from 53.4% to 77.7%. During the same time, the proportion of foreign imports to total import value increases from 21.2% to 43.5%.
  • Most of Queensland's trade is by sea, although a small amount of interstate trade is carried by rail to the south, including fruit and vegetables. Livestock and wool move 'either on the hoof or by rail' according to the Government Statistician's 1952 Queensland Yearbook.

  • Strict import restrictions introduced to prevent further deterioration of Australia's Balance of Payments. Restrictions are also placed on the amount of money Australians can take overseas.

  • The balance of Queensland's net external trade in goods (foreign and interstate) is a deficit of $10.2m. While the state is a net exporter of goods overseas, it is a net importer of interstate goods (with a deficit of $215.1m).
  • In the ten years since 1950-51, while the value of foreign exports and imports changed by only 2.2% and -9.1% respectively, interstate exports increased by 161.2% and interstate imports 160.5%.
  • During the same time (since 1950-51), the contribution of wool exports to the value of foreign exports nearly halves (from 64.3% to 33.1%). Sugar (21.2%) and meat (18.2%) are also key exports, although butter’s contribution falls significantly from levels 10-15 years earlier, to 2.1%.

  • Queensland's net external trade in goods in 1970-71 (including interstate and foreign trade) is very close to balance, recording a deficit of -$0.3m.
  • A favourable balance of trade in foreign goods (foreign goods exported less foreign goods imported) of $468m is recorded. Meat is the largest individual foreign export in value terms (21.3%) with increases in its price since 1960-61. However, fluctuating prices for sugar (18.4% of foreign export value), and declining prices for wool (6% of foreign export value) result in a decline in the relative contribution of these commodities as export items. The value of coal exports overseas grows considerably over the ten years to 1970-71 ($0.4m to $73m, thus makes coal the third largest contributor to the state's foreign exports (at 9.3%).
  • The proportion (in value terms) of foreign exports to the United Kingdom continues to fall (to 15.8%), while the value of foreign good exports to Japan and the United States increases to 30.1% and 23.1% respectively.
  • The contribution of the United States to the value of foreign imports increases from 6.0% in 1950-51 to 26.9% in 1970-71. In the same period the contribution of the United Kingdom to the value of imports falls from 55.9% to 17.0%. Japan's share rises from 1.5% in 1950-51 to 16.1% in 1970-71.

  • The Australian Government reduces all tariffs on imported goods by 25%.

  • The headline Consumer Price Index (CPI) for Brisbane hits an annual high of 15.9% in the September quarter 1974. As at January 2009, this figure remains the record high figure for Brisbane over the history of the 60 year CPI series.

  • Queensland records a favourable balance of external trade in goods (foreign and interstate) of $0.5m.
  • In the decade since 1970-71, exports of foreign goods grow from $789m to $4,501m, while imports of foreign goods increase from $321m to $1,883m.
  • In value terms, sugar is the largest individual contributor to foreign exports (25.2%), with coal exports contribution growing to 23.5% (up from 9.3% in 1970-71). 73.2% of foreign coal exports go to Japan. Meat exports are still significant (12.3%) but wool exports have fallen in relative terms to 2.3% of the value of foreign exports.
  • The three main destinations of Queensland's foreign exports in value terms in 1980-81 are Japan (35.2%), United States (16.6%) and Canada (6.5%).
  • Japan and the United States are the two main sources of the value of Queensland's foreign imports in 1980-81.

  • Australian Government announces further quotas and increased tariffs to ensure Australian steelmakers receive 80% of the domestic market.
  • Floating of the Australian dollar (with the dollar fixed at 90 U.S. cents at the time of the float). In the six months following the float the dollar mostly remains above 90 U.S. cents, peaking at 96.53 U.S. cents on 16 March 1984. However for a period of over 13 years, from 5 June 1984 until 8 October 2007, the dollar remains below 90 U.S. cents.

  • Opening of the Gateway Bridge in Brisbane. It provides easier access for commercial and freight traffic to the Australia Trade Coast, including the Port of Brisbane and the Brisbane Airport.

  • 'Black Monday', October 19 1987. Biggest one-day stock market crash in history with the Dow Jones Industrial Average falling 22.6% in one day. Australian shares subsequently fall by 25% on October 20.

  • Recession in Queensland and Australia. Gross State Product falls by -0.8% for the financial year 1990-91.
  • Queensland's balance of external trade (overseas and interstate) in both goods and services is a deficit of $2,628m.
  • In terms of the net external trade in goods (overseas and interstate), the state runs a deficit of $3,890m in 1990-91. The balance of foreign trade in goods is a surplus of $5,867m.
  • Coal is the largest single foreign export item in value terms, contributing $3,634m or 33.9% of total exports (coal has been Queensland’s largest single export commodity since 1981-82 to the present day). Other significant imports in value terms are meat (14.2%) and sugar (8.5%). Other mineral commodities (such as aluminium, copper and lead combined) make up around 9% of exports.
  • Japan is the main destination of foreign exports of goods, accounting for 36.2% of the export value. The United States (18.4%) and Japan (17.3%) are the main sources of foreign imports of goods. The principal imports from these countries are aircraft and road vehicles respectively.
  • In 1990-91, the State's foreign exports of goods were 20.6% of the Australian total, while foreign imports were 10.0% of the Australian total.

  • The Queensland Treasurer, Hon. Keith De Lacey, announces that Queensland is debt-free, with assets exceeding liabilities for the first time since separation in 1859.

  • The financial year 1996-97 sees the start of 12 consecutive financial years where growth for the Queensland economy (measured by Gross State Product (GSP) outperforms the rest of Australia. Research by the Queensland Government (including the Treasury) indicates that contributing factors to the stronger growth include the State's stronger population growth, strong labour force participation and higher multi-factor productivity growth (including higher business research and development growth). The 'mining boom, commencing around 2003, is also thought to have contributed to Queensland's stronger growth performance.

  • Introduction of Goods and Services tax across Australia.
  • Queensland’s balance of external trade in goods and services (overseas and interstate) is a deficit of $3,355m in current price terms. Of this figure, Queensland is a net exporter of goods and services overseas (with a surplus of $8,736m), but a net importer of goods and services interstate (with a deficit of $12,091m).

  • September 11 terrorist attacks on the U.S, including the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon.
  • The end of the 'dot-com bubble'. The dot-com stock market bubble saw the rise of Internet sites and the technical industry in general. The official date of the internet 'crash' is considered to be March of 2001, after internet stock valuations began to rapidly decline. Wikipedia reports that the Dot-com bubble crash wiped out $5 trillion in market value off technology companies from March 2000 to October 2002.

  • The March quarter 2002 sees the start of two and a half years of double-digit annual (change from corresponding quarter of previous year) rates of growth in Brisbane's established house prices. The annual growth rate peaks at 38.8% in the December quarter 2003. Double digit annual growth rates are again achieved between the March quarter 2007 and June quarter 2008.
  • Outbreak of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in Asia. Quite apart from the human cost, the outbreak constrains Queensland's overseas trade performance in 2002-03.

  • April 2007, Queensland's trend unemployment rate hits 3.6%, the lowest rate recorded in the 30-year history of the ABS Labour Force series. This rate has been equalled but not bettered as at January 2009.
  • The U.S. sub-prime and ensuing credit crisis begins. In the U.S., the decline in property values sees many home owners unable to meet their financial commitments and lenders are left with no means to recoup their losses. Foreclosures and bankruptcies accelerate in the United States in late 2006 and during 2007, with nearly 1.3 million U.S. housing properties subject to foreclosure activity, up 79% from 2006. The situation began to put pressure on the near-prime and prime mortgage markets. Investors lose billions of dollars in investments that are tied to sub-prime mortgage assets. This in turn triggers disturbances in the global markets, including Australia.

  • Growth for the Queensland economy (measured by Gross State Product (GSP) outperforms the rest of Australia for the 12th year in a row. The average annual growth rate in Queensland GSP over the previous decade was 4.9 per cent compared with 3.2 per cent for the rest of Australia.
  • October 2008. The Australian government announces deposit and lending guarantees that are unprecedented in Australian banking history as a response to the dramatic moves by other countries to safeguard their financial systems. The guarantee of $600-$700 billion is supplemented with another $4 billion for non-bank institutions.
  • In 2007-08, Queensland's balance of trade including both goods and services traded interstate and overseas was a deficit of $15,355m (this was before a break in the series of the interstate trade numbers, which have been significantly understated).
  • The balance of foreign or merchandise trade (trade in goods) is a surplus of $4,150m (down from $8,230m in 2000-01).
  • Net exports of tourism services interstate is a surplus of $2,530m.
  • Coal accounts for 37.1% of total merchandise export value (excluding some confidentialised coal exports such as pulverised coal injection). Total rural commodities make up 14.5% of exports, of which meat is the largest contributor (8.8%).
  • Asian markets and the European Union are the main Queensland export markets in 2007-08. Japan, South Korea, India, China and Taiwan, together account for 58% of the total value of Queensland's foreign good exports. The European Union accounts for 16%. Japan remained Queensland's largest export market in 2007-08, accounting for 25% of total merchandise exports.
  • The top five countries of origin for Queensland merchandise imports in 2007-08 are United States (13.0%), Japan (12.1%), China (10.4%), Singapore (6.2%) and Malaysia (5.4%). The commodity 'machinery and transport equipment' is the most significant import, accounting for 44.2% of imports.
  • In 2007-08, Hay Point (40.4%) and Gladstone (30.3%) account for the majority of the total export tonnage by Queensland ports. The Port of Hay Point (incorporating Hay Point and Dalrymple Bay Coal Terminals) exports coal, while 90% of Gladstone’s exports were coal. By comparison in 1958-59, the Port of Brisbane accounted for 32.2% of total export tonnage, with Mackay (14.6%), Townsville (14.2%) and Cairns (12.9%) the other major ports in terms of total export tonnage. Meat, grains and wool were key exports in tonnage terms.
  • In 2007-08, Brisbane (42.3%) and Gladstone (39.8%) account for the majority of total import tonnage by Queensland ports. Crude oil (Brisbane) and bauxite (Gladstone) are the most significant import items in tonnage terms. By comparison, Brisbane (73.5%) accounted for the majority of total import tonnage in 1958-59. Petroleum was a key import in tonnage terms.
  • Public final demand (investment by general government and public trading enterprises, as well as government consumption expenditure) grows 10.7% in 2007-08, the highest rate of growth in the 22 year history of the Queensland State Accounts.


Aplin, G., Foster, S.G., McKernan, M., eds. 1987, Australians Events and Places, Fairfax, Syme and Weldon Associates, Broadway.

Atlantic Union Oil Company 1959, Queensland’s Tomorrow: Portents of Prosperity in the Sunshine State, Atlantic Union Oil Company, Brisbane.

Australian Bureau of Statistics, Consumer Price Index (various years), cat. no. 6401.0, ABS, Canberra.

Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2008, Australian Historical Population Statistics, 2008, ‘Table 5.1 Births registered by sex, states and territories, 1824 onwards’, data cube: Excel spreadsheet, cat. no. 3105.0.65.001, viewed 17 December 2008.

Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2008, Australian Historical Population Statistics, 2008, ‘Table 6.1 Deaths registered by sex, states and territories, 1824 onwards’, data cube: Excel spreadsheet, cat. no. 3105.0.65.001, viewed 17 December 2008.

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