Townsville Mayor Jenny Hill’s alleged lack of success in bringing new infrastructure projects to the city may become a major issue in the mayoral election in March next year, based on a report in today’s Townsville Bulletin. The Mayor may be vulnerable on this issue, given how long it has taken so far to progress the Super Stadium, which still has not obtained the Commonwealth funding commitment it needs. She will also be vulnerable because of the relatively weak Townsville economy recently, although it appears the unemployment rate is thankfully coming down a bit. The Townsville region, like other Queensland regions, such as Wide Bay (see chart above), has struggled in recent years, and as I’ve noted before, net employment growth in Queensland is confined to the South-East, and the regions as a whole have been losing jobs. It is no surprise the mining regions are struggling (chart below), but it is not only them, as I have noted above. To give another example, Cairns is also a worry (see Pete Faulkner’s post Regional labour market data shows Cairns sliding badly).
Today’s updated regional labour force data from the ABS have not changed my general concern over the economic outlook. The Queensland Treasurer Curtis Pitt, however, has found some good economic news to be excited about recently. He is excited about the solid June quarter Queensland State Accounts figures produced by Queensland Treasury and by new survey data from NAB, regarding which the Treasurer is quoted in his media release as saying:
“According to the survey, business confidence in Queensland was the equal highest in the nation, along with New South Wales.
“The NAB Business Confidence index for Queensland is at +4, with all other mainland States outside New South Wales in negative territory.”
Let us hope the Treasurer’s optimism is justified. I remain concerned about the outlook for the national and State economies given the risk of weak business investment over the coming twelve months and the risk of a severe downturn in China.
For further information on the regional labour force data, see the Queensland Treasury’s latest regional labour force brief.