I returned to Brisbane this morning, after a road trip to Roma, and I’m much less worried about the Queensland economy than I was at the end of last week when I saw the Federal Treasury’s revised national forecasts in the Economic Update (It would be great if Queensland Treasury could provide an update to their economic forecasts from the Budget, by the way). While the Queensland coal industry has shed jobs, coal seam gas (CSG) still has a big economic contribution to make over the next few years, with thousands of wells yet to be drilled and LNG exports to commence in the next couple of years, providing a major boost to our gross state product.
I noticed yesterday that the level of activity in Roma is extraordinary, as the influx of fly in-fly out (FIFO) workers has a huge impact on a town with a resident population of around 7,000. Earlier this year, Queensland Treasury estimated there would be 3,120 FIFO workers on shift at 30 June 2013 in the Maranoa Regional Council area, and I expect a large proportion of these workers would have been based in Roma (see Surat Basin non-resident population projections).
This FIFO influx and its impact on the rental market is a big challenge for the Regional Council, which I’ve noticed is responding by promoting a temporary accommodation precinct aimed at Roma residents, particularly key workers doing essential jobs, affected by the surge in rents in the town (see Council addressing Maranoa’s housing concerns).
Thanks to my colleague/navigator Brad Rogers for the photos below.
Here I am at the Big Rig tourist attraction in Roma:
Below is a coal conveyor belt over the Warrego Highway somewhere near Dalby if I remember correctly. This highway is in absolutely appalling condition and is extremely dangerous to drive on (e.g. see Damning report on Warrego Highway).
Finally here’s a photo from our slow descent down the range this morning. A second range crossing may be desirable (assuming it passes the cost-benefit test), as mentioned in a previous post.