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Queensland economy must take centre stage

By Greg Bell

The national economy might be starting to move in the right direction, but now the focus should be shifted towards how activity is faring on a state level.

Several indicators have pointed towards an imbalance in the Australian economy over the past few months, and not least the Reserve Bank of Australia's decision to lower the official cash rate back in May. It has remained at this level ever since, as the central bank indicated that not all economic indicators appear to have picked up the required pace.

It's therefore the duty of state governments to make sure this happens, and a recent report from the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland (CCIQ) suggests the Sunshine State is no exception. More positive economic activity has strong implications for a number of areas, potentially leading to a pick up in office leasing on the Gold Coast.

Where are improvements needed?

One of the biggest areas of concern at the moment is unemployment. The CCIQ offered its views after the latest labour force data was revealed by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

Official figures showed the national unemployment rate as 6.2 per cent in September, marking a fall of just 0.1 per cent from the previous month. The number of people in employment fell by 5,100 month on month, with the largest decline being among males in full-time employment.

However, the CCIQ noted that Queensland's rate of unemployment is slightly higher than the national average at 6.3 per cent. This is something the group believes must be urgently addressed if the Queensland economy is going to thrive, and companies are to feel comfortable about doing business in the state.

What action is being taken?

The CCIQ did acknowledge that some "good initiatives" had been brought into force to help support employment throughout the state. Among them are the Advance Queensland Best and Brightest Fund valued at $50million, as well as the $46million Future Jobs Strategy.

Director of advocacy at the CCIQ Nick Behrens said programmes such as these have so far had a limited impact, which is why they need to be given extra support and funding to guarantee their success.

"There are some very good proposals that need to be explored such as reducing council regulation on business; implementation of Harper Review recommendations; and increasing the GST by the amount required to replace payroll tax and stamp duty," Mr Behrens noted.

These areas should be considered as opposed to other strategies that have so far been introduced. Deregulating shop trading hours and bringing in congestion charges are just two initiatives the CCIQ believes could ultimately cause more harm than good.

What's the end game?

The CCIQ stressed that increased investment, the creation of jobs and a productivity boost should be on the cards for Queensland over the coming years. This is what the state needs to improve its economic standing and perhaps welcome more businesses hoping to lease commercial property.

Mr Behrens said an "open and transparent discussion" must take place among the state's policymakers to ensure Queensland's potential can be met. At present, strategies are being introduced that might not be effective, or have the state's best interests in mind.

Good work is being undertaken throughout Queensland, but the challenge now is making sure this is able to come to the fore. An improved employment landscape would bring no end of benefits and make the Sunshine State the preferred location of choice for businesses from far and wide.

However, there are plenty of reasons why the market is now working in your favour, so take the opportunity to invest in commercial property now.

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