November 30 2016
Two thirds of Australians who are experiencing a recession are living in Queensland, research has revealed.
Despite the national GDP growth averaging about 2.8 per cent since 2011, about 6.6 million people were living in regions where economic activity had contracted during the 2014-2015 financial year, according to SGS Economics and Planning research.
Toowoomba was hit hard in the 2014-2015 financial year. Photo: supplied
Regional economics expert Terry Rawnsley, who authored the research, estimated two thirds of those, about three million, were living in Queensland, where the mining bust had hit hardest.
“It is quite a broad-based slowdown in regional parts of Queensland, but so much comes back to decline in investment in the mining sector,” he said.
“For a long time there were (mining) facilities being built, lots of people working on projects that have come to end and construction workers don’t have jobs, they are spending less in local communities.”
Brisbane and Perth were the only capital cities to not experience GDP per capita growth for the 2014-2015 period, with Brisbane experiencing a negative growth in GDP per capita of -0.7 per cent, according to SGS Economics and Planning’s ‘Australian Cities Accounts’ report.
Mr Rawnsley said this could also be attributed to the downturn in the mining sector.
“A lot of professional services relating to mining – construction, engineers, designers – (the mining sector was) financing people that don’t work in the area but were based in Brisbane and as projects wound up, engineers and architects have found themselves with no work to do,” he said.
“The construction industry in Brisbane also slowed.”
A large number of Queensland’s sub-state regions also experienced a recession, with Toowoomba recording a growth rate of -2 per cent, followed by Townsville at -1.9 per cent, Cairns at -1.5 per cent and Brisbane south at -1.3 per cent.
The Sunshine Coast, Logan-Beaudesert and Gold Coast also experienced a recession during the 2014-2015 financial year.
“It has gotten worse over the last couple of years as mining investments have come to an end, places like Townsville where the nickel refinery closed down as well, so there is mining and manufacturing related factors affecting those communities,” Mr Rawnsley said.
He said the worst could be over for some of those regional areas who were hit hardest in the 2014-2015 financial year.
“Gold Coast and Cairns might be improved because tourism has picked up but somewhere like Townsville, the closure of the nickel factory happened this financial year, so Townsville is probably even worse,” he said.
A spokesperson for Treasurer Curtis Pitt said the figures weren’t a surprise and the government was now focused on transitioning the state to a post-mining boom economy.
“(We have) Specific regional employment programs to try to encourage more employment in regional areas.
“Almost half of the $10.7 billion capital works program, $4.9 earmarked for regional projects to help get contracts for local firms and contracts for local firms.”
Shadow Treasurer Scott Emerson said Queensland’s domestic economy had shrunk by $4 billion last year and criticised the Palaszczuk government for not doing enough.
“Queensland is leading the nation in job losses, with almost 70,000 jobs disappearing since the start of the year and another 90,000 giving up looking for work,” he said in a statement.
“Regional parts of the state are doing it especially tough, with youth unemployment in Cairns above 27 per cent and above 33 per cent in Outback Queensland.”
“More and more Queenslanders are falling behind under the Palaszczuk Labor Government.”