As the state reals from the pullback of the mining boom, the construction sector in Queensland is facing a crisis, a leading lobby group for the state’s engineering sector says.
Following on from the release of the latest State of the States report prepared by Commonwealth Securities which indicated that overall levels of building and construction activity in Queensland in the June quarter was 19 percent below ten year averages, Engineers Australia Queensland General Manager Ian McEwan has suggested that investment in infrastructure ‘fallen off a cliff’.
“‘Queensland has lost thousands of engineers to redundancy in the past few years and more are leaving the state every week to seek job opportunities overseas and interstate,” McEwan said.
“Things are at a crisis point in this state – and the skills these professionals take with them will have to brought back here at great cost once the economy rebounds.”
McEwan’s comments come in response to the latest State of the States report by Commonwealth Securities, which showed that Queensland had the third worst performing economy overall relative to ten year averages.
According to that report, Queensland is performing well in terms of housing starts and reasonably well in terms of retail spending and population growth but is performing poorly from a point of view of construction activity, investment and unemployment and only modestly well in terms of economic growth.
Whilst the south-eastern part of Queensland has benefited significantly the upturn in residential building, the state’s civil construction sector has been impacted as completion on major LNG projects has not been offset by any increase in new work coming in.
Over the past four years, data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics suggests that the dollar value of engineering construction work in the pipeline has dropped from its peak of $57.115 billion as at March 31 2012 to just $11.338 billion as at June 30 this year – the lowest value on record in almost ten years.
Whilst mining and heavy industry is the main area of pullback, the pipeline with regard to roads, rail, power, water and telecommunications infrastructure is also sitting at historically low levels.
McEwan says the state needs to look at more ways in which to fund investment in public assets.
“A failure by our politicians to do so will see our economy fall further behind the rest of the nation and this is something we cannot afford,” he said.
“We need to let Australia and the world know we are open for business.”