Growth at three speeds
Townsville splutters, Mackay roars, rest steady
QUEENSLAND has slipped into a three-speed economy as overall business sentiment becomes more gloomy, a new report reveals.
The latest Suncorp-CCIQ Pulse survey of business conditions shows that some positive signs of a lift in confidence in the June quarter have subsided in the past three months, giv- ing way to pessimism. The deterioration in mood was most stark in terms of outlook for the national economy – driven by political instability with the switch of prime minister and a federal election on the horizon.
“Some midterm certainty is critical to business planning and companies don’t see it,’’ Chamber of Commerce and In- dustry Queensland chief economist Dr Marcus Smith said.
Confidence in the national economy has dropped to its lowest level in a year, and the state outlook also fell, with both results in negative territory.
The survey of 300 small to medium companies has also exposed divisions within the state.
The description of a twospeed economy – between southeast Queensland and the rest of the state – has become common over recent years. But Dr Smith says the results indicate the picture is even more complex.
“Commentary from respondents indicated that regional Queensland is experiencing a two-speed economy between the central region and the northern region, which is driving a dichotomy of views about the economic outlook,” the report, to be released today, says.
“However, regional Queensland is categorically less sanguine about future economic conditions than southeast Queensland.”
A resurgent resources sector was boosting central Queensland, with a major turnaround in fortunes for Mackay, in particular, which now has the state’s lowest unemployment rate at just 3 per cent.
But it is a different story further north. While tourism is helping Cairns remain at, or just below the state jobless level, Townsville continues to struggle with an unemployment rate around 8 per cent.
ALL FIRED UP: Head chef Ash Martin roasts pork at Homage Restaurant at Spicer’s Hidden Vale. Picture: AAP/Richard Waugh