The Australian Defence Organisation and tropical Australia: its socio-economic impact in Cairns, Darwin and Townsville

Welters, Riccardo (2013) The Australian Defence Organisation and tropical Australia: its socio-economic impact in Cairns, Darwin and Townsville. Working Paper. Cairns Institute, James Cook University, Cairns, QLD, Australia.

PDF (Published Version) - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

Download (914kB)
View at Publisher Website:


[Extract] Tropical Australia, defined as the area north of the Tropic of Capricorn – see Figure 1.1 for an illustration, has been one of the key population growth areas of Australia since the start of the 21st Century. While the Australian population grew at 1.6% per annum since 2001, tropical Australia's population grew at 2.1% per annum to reach just over a million in 2009, which is about 4% of the Australian population (Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics, 2011).

The 2011 Census reveals that of those 1 million people, 71% live in the state of Queensland, which contains two major cities – Townsville (175,000 residents) and Cairns (142,000 residents). A further 21% live in the Northern Territory which contains one major city – Darwin (121,000 residents). The remaining 8% live in Western Australia which includes no major cities north of the Tropic of Capricorn.

The Australian Defence Organisation (from here on Defence) is an important industry in the three tropical cities. Together, they host about a fifth of Australia's permanent Defence force personnel, ranging from Army (29% of Australia's permanent army force) to navy (12%) and air force (9%). Further, the three tropical cities accommodate 4% of Australia's civilian Defence personnel.

Whilst Defence's footprint in tropical Australia is substantial, little research has been done on how Defence fits in the socio-economic structure of tropical Australia. This report therefore (1) describes the socio-economic structures of the three major cities; (2) contrasts their socio-economic structures to the Australian average; and (3) studies the impacts of Defence on the socio-economic structures of the three tropical cities.

The report is structured as follows. Section 2 gives an overview of the three tropical cities, comparing and contrasting the cities to each other and to the rest of Australia. Section 3 then describes the presence of Defence in the three tropical cities. Subsequently, Section 4 describes the interaction between Defence and the cities. Section 5 provides concluding remarks.

Item ID: 30101
Item Type: Report (Working Paper)
ISBN: 978-0-9875922-5-5
Related URLs:
Additional Information:

This report is part of The Future of Northern Australia Discussion Paper Series.

This discussion paper is licenced under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia licence. You are free to copy, communicate and adapt this work, so long as you attribute James Cook University [The Cairns Institute] and the author.

Date Deposited: 07 Nov 2013 02:40
FoR Codes: 14 ECONOMICS > 1402 Applied Economics > 140209 Industry Economics and Industrial Organisation @ 50%
14 ECONOMICS > 1402 Applied Economics > 140218 Urban and Regional Economics @ 50%
SEO Codes: 91 ECONOMIC FRAMEWORK > 9102 Microeconomics > 910205 Industry Policy @ 100%
Downloads: Total: 533
Last 12 Months: 7
More Statistics

Actions (Repository Staff Only)

Item Control Page Item Control Page