Bernard Salt's Gold Coast Report Posted on August 13, 2013

Regional Development Australia Gold Coast (RDAGC) is proud to support the new study released today by KPMG Demographer, Bernard Salt, revealing the lengths some Australians will go to in order to retain their Gold Coast lifestyle.

First the Gold Coast gave Australia the idea of a retirement lifestyle by the beach. Then we delivered the idea of a seachange lifestyle where Australians either lived permanently or had a beach house 'down the coast'.

But now the latest trend coming out of the Gold Coast is the idea of "extreme commuting" to Brisbane, to Sydney and to the Bowen Basin. Loyal Gold Coasters are prepared to work in these far-flung places; they just don't want to live there!

"Whatever it is that the Gold Coast has to offer must be pretty good because extreme commuters are growing faster in this city than anywhere else in Australia," said report author Bernard Salt.

"Australians have long demonstrated their preference for a beach lifestyle which is why the Gold Coast is now this nation's sixth largest city.

"But what has become evident from the 2011 Census is that once Australians get a taste of the Gold Coast lifestyle they simply do not want to leave.

"Coasters are the biggest inter-city commuters in Australia with 26,000 workers commuting each day to Briusbane easily outpacing second-placed Wollongong with 17,000 daily commuters to Sydney," Mr Salt said.

RDAGC Chair, Craig Devlin, said RDA Gold Coast priorities include workforce, sustainable communities, and investment and infrastructure.

"The promotion of the Gold Coast as a potential FIFO (fly-in, fly-out) hub aligns perfectly with our strategy and Bernard Salt's findings seem to support a business case for the city to actively pursue this opportunity," Mr Devlin said.

But the "extreme commuting" trend goes further.

Over the five years to 2011 the number of long distance commuters in Australia jumped 37% to 214,000 where a long distance commuter is defined as someone who travels more than 100km to work. However, the number of long distance commuters living on the Gold Coast jumped 92% to 6700 over this period.

Other long distance commuting resident workforce statistics show an estimated 13,800 for Brisbane, 14,300 for Melbourne, 16,500 for Sydney and 24,800 for Perth.

Long distance commuters largely comprise FIFO workers in the mining industry.

The Gold Coast contains about half the population of Adelaide; about 577,000 residents versus 1.2 million. But according to the KPMG study, the long-distance-commuter population is more or less the same in each city; 6700 on the Gold Coast versus 6800 in Adelaide.

The difference is that Adelaide's FIFO workforce serving the mining industry can fly in and out of Adelaide's airport. But the Gold Coast's FIFO workforce servicing the mining industry must commute through Brisbane airport when they have a perfectly operational airport in their own back yard.

The Gold Coast's FIFO workforce is the cream to the Brisbane airport's FIFO success.

According to the study the most popular long distance commutes from the Gold Coast in 2011 were to Sydney (980 workers) and to the Bowen Basin (540 workers).

Long distance commuters are also present in other non-capital cities such as the Sunshine Coast (4100), Newcastle (5500) and Mackay (3800).

The KPMG report shows that the Gold Coast punches above its weight in the long-distance-commuter stakes no doubt because of this city's unique lifestyle appeal.

Report preparation

The Analysis of the Gold Coast Long Distance Commuter Workforce study was prepared by KPMG Demographer Bernard Salt and the KPMG Demographics group.

The report was jointly funded by RDA Gold Coast, the City of Gold Coast and Gold Coast Airport.

The purpose of the report is to measure and compare the scale of the long distance commuter population living on the Gold Coast with other benchmark cities including Brisbane, Mackay and Newcastle. The report draws on published and unpublished census data.

The report will be available on our website. For a copy of the report click here or email admin@rdagoldcoast.org.au

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