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Economic Development Strategy for the City of Brisbane

By Jim Soorley - posted Wednesday, 15 September 1999

To enable Brisbane to meet the economic and employment challenges of the new millennium, as Lord Mayor, I initiated preparation of an Economic Development Strategy for the city in 1998. This year, following a thorough investigation and consultation process, Brisbane City Council (BCC) and other key stakeholders including State Government, business, universities, Brisbane’s Office of Economic Development, Brisbane Tourism and the community generally, have adopted a Strategy which sets the framework for Brisbane's economic prosperity for the next decade and more.

To oversee preparation of the Strategy, I requested top Queensland businessman Mr Jim Kennedy, AO, CBE, chair an External Steering Group comprising about 20 Brisbane business, government, union and university leaders.

Our vision is that:


By 2011, economic activity in Brisbane will be characterised by expanding, globally competitive enterprises, with high demands for skilled labour and technology. The private sector will operate in a supportive environment with excellent links with government, finance, education and training, and research institutions. Brisbane residents will share in this prosperity and continue to enjoy a high quality urban environment and a superior lifestyle.

This paper provides a brief overview of the economic issues which we have addressed in the Strategy and outlines our broad strategic thrusts.


Among the issues we identified Brisbane as facing are:

  • growth in the Brisbane region’s economy which has not matched South East Queensland's overall high population growth rate, the highest in Australia;
  • unemployment, which is much more serious in the outer areas of Brisbane than in the inner suburbs;
  • transport issues impacting on future economic development which are many and difficult, and include infrastructure and pricing of services;
  • a significant need for enhanced education and workforce skills, especially in regard to the high growth knowledge-based industries; and
  • the need to progress economic development while at the same time, maintaining the City's livability, natural environment and quality of life.


As part of the Strategy, we adopted three major goals to be achieved as key to realising our vision and which are fundamental to addressing the issues identified above. In summary, the goals are:

  • accelerating investment across the Brisbane economy in 11 key industry sectors;
  • enhancing the City's human resource, technology and infrastructure base; and
  • a positive regulatory and business environment.

Policies, Programs and Tasks

To achieve these goals, the stakeholders have adopted a comprehensive set of 12 policies, 57 programs and 90 specific tasks. The Strategy also includes implementation, monitoring and progress reporting mechanisms.

The policies together with some examples of the proposed individual initiatives are outlined in general terms below.

Policy 1: Investment

Under our Investment Policy, we will encourage a significant increase in the growth rate of investment in the Brisbane economy. Among the measures, BCC and the Queensland Government will coordinate efforts to attract and promote investment and further improve procedures for the timely processing of new investment proposals.

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This article was first published by CEDA in their Political and Economic Newsletter (PEN) No 43, June 1999.

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About the Author

Jim Soorley was Lord Mayor of Brisbane from 1991 to 2003.

Photo of Jim Soorley
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