In the Media

  • Projects in pipeline; Jamieson

    Published in: Sunshine Coast Newspaper
    Published on: 20 Jun 2012

    THE figures look gloomy.
     
    Unemployment is up, social security payments are above average and household wealth is down.
     
    But the figures revealed in the latest 2012-13 State of the Regions Report do not paint the full picture.
     
    One of Australia's premier economists, Dr Ian Manning, believes the Sunshine Coast is perfectly poised for a prosperous future. He is not alone.
     
    Consensus across the region is that we have "hit bottom and the only way is up".
     
    Dr Manning, a co-author of the report published by the Australian Local Government Association, said the figures highlighted the scope of possibilities available for the Coast.
     
    "Potentially, the Sunshine Coast is one of regions to watch," he said.
     
    "The problems staring us in the face - housing affordability and unemployment - are something you should be able to fix. The important message is to hold fast."
     
    With major projects primed for construction - such as the Sunshine Coast University Hospital, the airport upgrade and the Maroochydore principle activity centre - the figures represented in this year's report should not be seen again, he said.
     
    Mayor Mark Jamieson said the figures were "exactly the reason why I put my hand up to stand for mayor".
     
    "We have a cornerstone of projects in the pipeline. The university hospital is the biggest of those," he said.
     
    "This could potentially reshape the economy of the Sunshine Coast in a way we've never see before.
     
    "The health, medical and well being sector is the biggest source of employment and will only continue to grow. This is a good thing as this kind of employment is immune to the economic ups and downs in the world economy.
     
    "It also focuses on that we have been popular and always will be popular. People who retire here, move to aged care, can have their services and lifestyle provided.
     
    "I don't think people appreciate the opportunities that will flow off the back of this precinct.
     
    "The development of Horton Park (in Maroochydore) and the principal activity centre is a great opportunity, not just during construction but the assets that will be developed there for the commercial and retail centre.
     
    "The exhibition centre, which we haven't progressed far, is something we know if done correctly will boost the economy."
     
    Dr Manning said all levels of government needed to lobby for major infrastructure projects, such as improving the Bruce Hwy and the rail network.
     
    This would encourage Brisbane-based businesses to move north.
     
    Dr Manning said the Gold Coast was filling and the Sunshine Coast still had developable land.
     
    "Until recently nobody had heard of Maleny. It's been a tightly kept secret," the Melbourne-based economist said.
     
    "It is potentially one of the main areas for future growth and opportunities."
     
    Sunshine Coast Chambers of Commerce Alliance chairman Steve Dittman said we had seen "the bottom of the trough".
     
    "With the projects we have in place, we should start to see a turn-around," he said.
     
     
     
    THE REGION'S SNAPSHOT
     • Population growth 2010-12: 1.6%, down from 2007-08's 3.2%
     • Unemployment rate: up 0.2%
     • Social Security take-up: up 0.8%
     • Wages: up 6.6%
     • Business income: down 8%
     • Disposable income rank: 61 (out of 67 areas in Australia)
     • Unemployed long term: 1.64% (Australian average 1.45%)
     • Youth allowance: Non-student: 0.43% (Australian average, 0.38%)
     • Age 30 to 54: 2012, 32%; 2007, 34.5%;
     • Age 55+: 2012, 32%; 2007, 29.4%