The Courier-Mail


Business leaders’ plea to kickstart our flounderin­g economy


ANNASTACIA Palaszczuk’s own business advisers have begged the Premier to jumpstart Queensland’s flagging economy by urgently making decisions and spending on vital infrastruc­ture.

The state’s turmoil was exposed yesterday, with Australian Bureau of Statistics figures revealing Queensland has the second-worst performing domestic economy, as big business walks away and major constructi­on work disappears.

Employment guru Sarina Russo and tourism boss Ken Chapman, both prominent members of the Premier’s Business Advisory Council, said the Government needed to act decisively to reverse the slowdown. Ms Russo pleaded with the Premier to “get some infrastruc­ture going” to create jobs.

“Start building bridges or roads. Just start investing in infrastruc­ture and that immediatel­y gives confidence,” Ms Russo said.

Mr Chapman said the Government had not been planning for the future and needed to “get going”.

PREMIER Annastacia Palaszcuk’s own business advisers say she needs to act as the economy stalls.

The state’s business leaders have demanded the Palaszczuk Government start making decisions and spend on vital infrastruc­ture if it is to arrest fears of a slowdown.

As Queensland scores the worst domestic economy of all states, big business abandons the state and work on major constructi­on sites dries up, prominent members of the Premier’s Business Advisory Council are among those calling for action.

Australian Bureau of Statistics figures have revealed Queensland’s domestic economy shrank 0.8 per cent between April and June, the fourth consecutiv­e quarter of contractio­n.

Plummeting business investment, which fell 8.4 per cent in trend terms, and an empty pipeline of major constructi­on projects were the major drivers of the domestic downturn.

An upturn in new homes and household spending saved Queensland from a worse result.

Only the Northern Territory performed worse than Queensland with a fall of 3.4 per cent while NSW, Victoria and Western Australia all enjoyed improvemen­t in their domestic economy.

Ms Palaszczcu­k first convened her business council in June, saying she wanted direct feedback for senior leaders to strengthen the economy.

Outcome Results chief executive Rabieh Krayem said the Government had settled in and delivered its Budget but needed to say what was next.

“Now is the time for major announceme­nts to be made by the Government to give the business community and private sector confidence,” he said.

Mr Krayem said he wanted to see major projects such as the Integrated Sports and Entertainm­ent Centre, for which the state has pledged $100 million, to go ahead.

“Jobs queen” Sarina Russo said there were pockets of flagging business confidence around the country including in Queensland and government­s need to spend more to drive growth.

“My advice to our Premier, who I respect enormously, is to get some infrastruc­ture going,” Ms Russo said.

“Start building bridges or roads. Just start investing in infrastruc­ture and that immediatel­y gives confidence.

“The thing that will make it easier for us to get jobseekers work is if there is confidence in Australia with employers.”

Member Ken Pickard, managing director at Moore Stephens Queensland, said the Government needed to facilitate business investment in the state by fast-tracking approvals and cutting red tape.

Tourism giant Chapman Group boss Ken Chapman said the Government needed to approve major projects such as the proposed Aquis resort in Cairns and spend money on infrastruc­ture for far north Queensland. “They need to get going, they haven’t even done the planning,” Mr Chapman said. “They haven’t been preparing for the future in any big way.”

The ABS State Final Demand figures do not include

exports, leaving the state at the mercy of embattled miners and other export industries to prevent consecutiv­e quarters of contractio­n in gross state product, which many economists say is a recession.

Treasurer Curtis Pitt, who is currently on an internatio­nal tour spruiking Queensland as an investment destinatio­n, downplayed the figures as only a “partial measure” while previously insisting they were a “key ABS measure”.

After courting controvers­y in May with claims Queensland fell into a recession under the LNP, Mr Pitt blamed the downturn on the end of the gas constructi­on boom. “The ABS data shows Queensland is continuing to transition from the LNG constructi­on boom to the production and export phase,” he said.

Mr Pitt said he hoped a prettier economic picture would emerge when exports from the gas industry were included in the final figures.

“Queensland’s LNG ex- ports are forecast to hit $15 billion by 2016-17,” he said.

Opposition treasury spokesman John-Paul Langbroek said Labor’s lack of a plan was harming business confidence and driving investment away to other states.

My advice to our Premier ... is to get some infrastruc­ture going. Start building bridges or roads. That immediatel­y gives confidence.

Premier’s Business Advisory Council Member Sarina Russo

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