Empty nesters cannot downsize, so younger families locked out of property market

UPSIDE Realty CEO and founder, Adam Rigby, is concerned about the trend for older Australians to live in their homes years longer than is suitable for them, because they fear market uncertainty and the costs associated with selling. The outcomes are affecting young families that, in the past, would  have bought into those types of homes.

“This is one person living in an otherwise empty six-bedroom house – there are more than 100,000 underused houses in NSW and Victoria alone,” Mr Rigby said.

“The increased expenses associated with running these homes is dangerously eating into retirement funds and locking families and first-home buyers out of the market.” 

The latest ABS data shows that 49 percent of Australians are living in ‘under-utilised’ dwellings – in houses with two or more empty bedrooms. This number increased throughout the property downturn last year, Mr Rigby said, and has now spiked with the drop in sales volume led by the COVID-19 outbreak.

“In the last month we have seen a 28.7 percent decrease in sales volume compared to 2019, a year which was already substantially down, compared to previous years. This stalemate has been going on for the last 18 months or more.

“Seniors keep delaying a downsize because they are unsure about the market and they know they will be slugged with a huge tax.”

Mr Rigby noted that Australia was unique in the world in terms of property transaction costs. 

“The high cost of sales transactions and stamp duty urgently needs to be addressed if the government is serious about improving affordability and assisting in the nation’s economic recovery," Mr Rigby said.

In Victoria, homeowners who pay $680,000 for a home have to come up with a further $35,870 in stamp duty. In NSW, homeowners buying for the same amount have to pay $26,032 in stamp duty. In Queensland, the stamp duty on a home of the same price is $16,450.

Upside Realty is a fixed-fee real estate company disrupting the industry in seven markets across the country, including Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra. Home vendors work online with an experienced agent to sell property for a fixed fee of $8,900 for private treaty or $9,700 for auction.




SA's COVID-19 legacy – new report details impact and maps long road to recovery

DOUBLE DIGIT unemployment for the next few years, a plunge in Gross State Product and slow recovery are the headline findings of a new Flinders University analysis of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on South Australia.

The research suggests economic stimulus will be required beyond the expected six months of the JobSeeker and JobKeeper support to assist workers, families, businesses and organisations to endure the extended effects of the tough measures that have been necessary to curb the virus’s spread.

The Flinders University’s Australian Industrial Transformation Institute director, professor John Spoehr said is is a recession and the outlook is grim, urging the state and federal governments to consider all options. 

"There’s no way of sugar coating it – the measures we have had to take to tackle the coronavirus crisis are having a profound impact on our state’s economy and employment and will continue to do so until at least 2024," Professor Spoehr said.

"Some 61,000 people will lose their jobs, notwithstanding the JobKeeper initiative. If they’re factored in, the total number of impacted jobs may be as high as 110,000.

"Unemployment will more than double from 52,000 to 117,000 in the current quarter and remain relatively high for the medium term. Peak unemployment is expected to reach 13.3 percent and remain above 10 percent at the end of 2023.

"Gross State Product (GSP) will be 14.8 percent lower this quarter than it would have been without the COVID-19 restrictions, and recovery will be slow, with GSP remaining 6.4 percent lower than would otherwise have been the case at this time next year," Prof. Spoehr said.

"Our earnings from interstate exports will fall 18 percent and our overseas export earnings will plunge 23.5 percent.

"The direct shock to the state economy totals almost $5.1 billion. Importantly, some sectors will be more affected than others. Amongst the biggest employment sectors in this state are the ones most affected – retail, education and training, and accommodation and food services – with their losses far outweighing the growth experienced in other sectors such as hospitals, health care and telecommunications.

"South Australia isn’t alone in this challenge – indeed, the actions necessary to contain the novel coronavirus have had profound impacts nationally and globally, with sharp declines in economic activity and escalating unemployment. However, our state is facing this crisis from a base of underperformance relative to other states, with lower GSP and lower employment growth than the nation as a whole," he said.

"Although the outlook is grim, our earlier emergence from the health crisis and bold action so far is a great advantage. The Australian Government is undoubtedly considering a range of options; substantial public investment in a national industry modernisation program with a focus on infrastructure such as hospitals, education and digital infrastructure would help breathe life back into the economy.

‘The State Government has the opportunity to leverage this with an economic recovery and jobs plan underpinned by further investment in social and physical infrastructure, including industry catapults to accelerate the uptake of advanced technologies and skills."

Prof. Spoehr said courage was needed to halt the coronavirus in its tracks, and similar courage is central to overcoming the ensuing calamity.

"Considerable investment and stimulus will be fundamental to durable recovery. There are fates worse than debt at times of great economic hardship, particularly when interest rates for government are at historic lows," Prof. Spoehr said.

The report Impact of COVID-19 on the South Australian economy and employment – 2020 to 2023 can been read in full at this link.


Brisbane City helps businesses overcome pandemic … with compassion

BRISBANE City Council – Australia’s largest municipality – has rolled out a comprehensive series of measures and new support services to assist businesses adjust to, and hopefully survive through, the coronavirus upheaval.

The council last month initiated a $7.9 million business relief package including fee waivers and has backed it up with  a range of supportresources and information. Brisbane City Council is also offering rates relief for up to nine months. 

All Council fees, permits, rents and licences have also been waived for businesses, community groups and clubs until at least June 30.

Brisbane Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner announced on March 19 that Brisbane City Council was waiving all charges, rents, levies and permit fees effective immediately for all businesses, as they faced economic hardship caused by coronavirus impacts.

The $7.9 million business relief package applies to businesses and council lessees who will have a range of fees and charges waived for the next three months. 

There is a moratorium on fees and charges for footpath and outdoor dining, food safety permits, commercial river moorings, advertising, temporary food stalls, commercial lease rents, and commercial stalls, booths, and stands. Lease fees for community organisations will not be collected.

“This is about protecting jobs. Brisbane businesses are shedding staff, customer numbers have dropped off and supply chains could be hit when the virus starts affecting more people,” Cr Schrinner said.

“We will do everything we can to support our businesses through this extraordinary time and business charges, rent, fees or permits required to be paid will be waived until at least 30 June 2020. Businesses that have paid these fees since 1 March will have them refunded.

“We will also be refunding all fees or charges for events cancelled due to COVID-19. This is about protecting jobs and community organisations, not just the livelihood of business owners,” Cr Schrinner said.

“Businesses and staff are under enormous strain as the coronavirus impact erodes customer numbers across all sectors, but particularly the hospitality industry.

“Small and large businesses are the backbone of our economy but also one of our biggest employers; and they are staring down financial uncertainty, the likes of which they have never seen before.

“We will reassess the policy once we know the true impacts on the Brisbane economy and workforce after 30 June. Also, anyone who has just paid any one of the fees since 1 March will be given special dispensation,” Cr Schrinner said.


Brisbane businesses and not-for-profits are meeting the enormous challenges of the pandemic in innovative ways, as well.

For example, Movement and Vitality founder Virginia Corpus-McDermott opened her yoga studio in Indooroopilly just six months ago and has had to develop unanticipated operational ‘flexibility’.  Ms Corpus-McDermott  is now live streaming all her classes, allowing students to practice from the comfort of their home or workplace.  

Another innovator at a different business stage is Wholesale Fruit Company, which has been feeding Brisbane’s hospitality sector for more than 35 years. With many of their customers closed, or scaling back operations, the family-owned and operated wholesaler has shifted its focus to providing fresh produce boxes to the public. 

Cr Schrinner has pleaded with residents to heed the advice of Queensland Health, ensure you are safe and follow advice, but go about your daily life, shop, dine and support our local businesses.

“Brisbane businesses will rely on people power to soften the economic blow and save local jobs over the coming weeks and months,” Cr Schrinner said.

“If we don’t support our businesses now, we may find on the other end of this event they may not be there,” Cr Schrinner said.

“We don’t want to see businesses going to the wall. Every single resident has the ability to put their hand in their pocket and support our corner shops, restaurants, and services.

“Our fantastic health authorities are working hard to contain the impacts of the virus, but every one of us can play a role in reducing the economic impacts.”

In mid-2019, Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner also introduced a new Local Buy procurement policy which aims to lift the number of Council contracts going to local businesses to 80 percent.

Cr Schrinner said One-on-one advice sessions for business leaders were also available with Brisbane City Council’s Small Business Liaison officers, to hear about the resources and programs that are available to support business.  

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or phone council on 07 3403 8888 to book a one-on-one session.




Brisbane City Council has released a Business Survival Checklist to assist business leaders and staff to ‘stay in the game’ while managing the effects of the coronavirus pandemic: 

Riding the storm 

These are unprecedented times, and we know local businesses are working hard to adapt. 

The coronavirus pandemic has changed the way we live and work and is threatening to have a real and devastating impact on Brisbane’s economy. That’s why council is committed to providing the information, tools and support businesses need to help them weather the storm. 

When facing tough times, the challenge is often knowing where to turn, or what to do next. To get you started, check out our simple business survival guide.   

Prepare to pivot  

Find ways to adapt your business. Can you offer your products online? Is home delivery or takeaway an option? Can you widen your target market? Think creatively. It may mean a complete shift to the way you do business. We spoke to some local businesses for inspiration.  

Get social 

Get in touch with others in your industry. Social media is a great way to connect with similar businesses, share ideas and offer support. Maybe other business owners have taken an approach you could adapt to fit your own? Stay up to date with council via Facebook as well as our Linkedin community.  

Arm yourself with information 
Being well-informed will help guide your decision-making process. Brisbane City Council’s business support page is a good starting point for information. Business chambers and industry-related bodies are also great contact points for tools, tips and resources. 

Seek financial support 
Make the most of the financial support being offered by local, state and federal governments. In response to the coronavirus pandemic council recently waived fees for all Brisbane businesses and council lessees. You can also contact council’s This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or the Business Hotline on 133 BNE (133 263), to learn more about other resources and programs available. 
Keep communication open 
Let your customers know how and why your business is changing. Monitor feedback and don’t be afraid to re-think your approach if it’s not going to plan. Utilise friends and family too. Often they can provide a unique perspective or a new idea.  
Don’t forget you 
During challenging times it can be easy to neglect your own mental health and well-being. Make time for something you enjoy outside of work, even if it’s just for a few minutes a day. Reach out to family, friends or one of the many support services, like Beyond Blue, if needed.   

Brisbane business permit fees, charges, and rents to be waived

This table includes Council business permit fees, charges and rents to be waived information

Fees and charges

Waiver details

Footpath dining (fees)

Waived for the period of 1 March to 30 June 2020

Outdoor dining (malls)

Credit of prepaid invoices for the period of 1 March to 30 June 2020 and Council will not pursue unpaid invoices

River Pontoon Moorings (bookings)

Credit of prepaid invoices for the period of 1 March to 30 June 2020 and Council will not pursue unpaid invoices

Advertising (application or license)

No fees for advertising, signs, hoardings and structures for the period of 1 March to 30 June 2020

Filming (application)

Waive or reduce application fees for filming approval at Council owned or controlled land or assets

Entertainment venues and events (booking)

Refunds granted for those seeking to cancel their events due to COVID-19 gathering restrictions

Music venues (booking)

Refunds granted for those seeking to cancel their events due to COVID-19 gathering restrictions

Food Act 2006 (fees)

Waived or refunded for the period of 1 March to 30 June 2020

Temporary Food Stalls/Premises (fees)

Waived or refunded for the period of 1 March to 30 June 2020

Standing vehicles, stalls booths and stands for commercial or promotional activity

Waived for small business for the period of 1 March to 30 June 2020

City Hall (booking)

Refunds granted for those seeking to cancel their booking due to COVID-19     

Community Hall (booking)

Refunds granted for those seeking to cancel their booking due to COVID-19

Commercial leases

Rent relief for the March to June 30 quarter for retail and tourism sector

Various park permit types

Park permit fee waived for small business for the period 1 March to 30 June 2020

As at March 19, 2020


Queensland's Resources Sector’s 'people first' COVID-19 response

THE HEALTH and wellbeing of the 372,000 men and women working in the State resources sector is the priority for the Queensland Resources Council (QRC) and its member companies in response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), accordong to QRC chief executive Ian Macfarlane.

Mr Macfarlane said the QRC COVID-19 Working Group today shared information and responses to the virus with a focus on adhering to the advice from health authorities for all men and women working in the resources sector, their colleagues, their families and their communities.

“As an industry, we are following the advice of health authorities to minimise the impact on the one in seven working Queenslanders whose livelihood is linked directly or indirectly to the resources industry,” Mr Macfarlane said. 

“The QRC is in direct contact with Queensland’s Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young and both the state and federal resource ministers Dr Anthony Lynham and Keith Pitt.

“The Prime Minister, through his National Cabinet, announced mine sites as essential activities and the Queensland Government today reiterated the importance of the sector and amid current conditions it was an “essential service” to Queensland. 

“The QRC welcomed the announcement by the Palaszczuk Government to allow all Queensland companies to defer payroll tax payments for six months, in response to COVID-19, will boost much needed cash flow to thousands of companies across the State.

“Companies are already taking steps to slow the spread of COVID-19 as we do all we can to keep our workforce and their communities healthy. New procedures include health questionnaires for visitors/suppliers, temperature measurement at mine site entries and before flights to mine sites, improved separation procedures including head office staff working from home, staggered crib breaks, and no non-essential visitors to mine sites. As well, where possible, essential service crews such as Emergency Response and Pump Crews are being keep in isolation from broader workforce," he said.

“In order to ease pressure and help lighten the load on health workers in regional areas from people presenting for COVID-19 testing, resource companies are also waiving requirements for Doctors Certificates for general illness leave.

“As the COVID-19 situation evolves here and around the world, it will be critical for our industry – like all Australians – to heed the advice from health authorities.

“It is also critical as an industry we continue to devote our full attention to implementing the processes and procedures in accordance with the latest advice.

“While these are turbulent times amid the COVID-19 response, the resources industry will continue to play its central role in the economic productivity of the state and lives of all Queenslanders," Mr Macfarlane said.

“QRC will continue to work on a full range of industry issues, but we cannot afford distractions from what is essential at this time – responding to the global pandemic that is COVID-19.”


Govt's small business bushfire relief: up to $50k grants, $500k loans welcomed

THE Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Kate Carnell said the Federal Government’s support package for bushfire-affected small businesses will help viable small businesses get back on their feet.

“The Federal Government is responding to the needs expressed by small business representatives at the roundtable last week, with a suite of measures designed to assist small and family businesses deal with the extraordinary challenges they are facing as a result of the devastating bushfires,” Ms Carnell said.

“Immediate tax-free cash grants of up to $50,000 are available to eligible small businesses that have sustained damage as a result of the fires. 

“That’s not just businesses that have burned down, but also those that have lost stock as a result of power outages for instance.

“Insured small businesses with less than 20 full time employees, can claim expenses not covered by their insurance," Ms Carnell said.

 “Concessional loans of up to $500,000 are available to small businesses that have suffered either significant asset or revenue loss.

“These loans will have no repayments due for the first two years, with no interest accruing in this period. Beyond that, an interest rate of about 0.6 percent will apply and small businesses have up to 10 years to repay.

“A further $3.5 million will be spent on establishing a Small Business Bushfire Financial Support Line, which will be helpful in providing basic information to small businesses," Ms Carnell said.

“However small businesses really need a tailored financial recovery plan. Without it, the chances are they won’t survive.

“We will continue to push for a government grant that enables small businesses to go to their trusted advisor for a customised strategy. 

“In the meantime, fast-tracked infrastructure and a commitment to ‘build back better’ is absolutely vital," she said.

“As part of the re-build, all levels of government should be procuring from local businesses wherever possible.

“We broadly welcome the government’s efforts to help small business and will continue to advocate for measures to enable small businesses to get on with getting back on track.”



Sunshine Coast's international broadband cable landing station ready to connect in 2020

QUEENSLAND'S first direct international data and telecommunications connection to global markets came a step closer this week with the completion of the cable landing station at Maroochydore on the Sunshine Coast.

The cable landing station will house the connection point for the international submarine cable with landside communication networks and is a vital piece of infrastructure in a project that will deliver much needed diversity for Australia’s international communication needs. It is also expected to bring significant economic benefits for the Sunshine Coast and Queensland.

Sunshine Coast Mayor Mark Jamieson was joined by Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Minister for State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning Cameron Dick on September 26 to mark the completion of the $7.2 million facility.

Mayor Jamieson said the completion of the cable landing station marked another milestone in the delivery of the Sunshine Coast international broadband network. 

“Unlike traditional cable landing stations that are normally non-descript buildings out of view from the general public, our landing station is designed to reflect council’s design vision for the Maroochydore city centre,” Mayor Jamieson said.

“Our Sunshine Coast will offer the fastest data and telecommunications transmission from the eastern seaboard of Australia to Asia once the submarine cable comes ashore and is in service next year.

“It will help to position our region to become Australia’s first Digital Trade Hub – taking a region-wide approach to data and digital connectivity which will benefit a wide cross section of businesses and industries," Mayor Jamieson said.

“Projects such as the Sunshine Coast International Broadband Network enable our region, its economy and our community to be well-positioned to respond to the rapidly evolving demands of the 21st century.

“When completed, this network will provide direct international data and telecommunications from the Sunshine Coast – the only location in Australia outside of Sydney and Perth to provide this direct international connectivity. 

“This will afford a significant step-change to the Sunshine Coast’s attractiveness as an investment location," he said.

“As the first local government in Australia to secure an investment in an international submarine cable, our council is yet again at the forefront of thinking outside the square, securing new revenue sources and pursuing opportunities to generate economic and employment growth as a major dividend for our residents, thus ensuring we continue to be Australia’s healthy, smart, creative region.”


The landing station is part of the Sunshine Coast International Broadband Cable Network being delivered through $15 million in support from the Queensland Government’s $175 million Jobs and Regional Growth Fund and $20 million from Sunshine Coast Council.

Almost 865 jobs are a step closer as the landing-station for the $35 million Sunshine Coast International Broadband Network is completed.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the project is facilitating the direct landing of a new undersea internet data cable at Maroochydore on the Sunshine Coast and will generate almost $1 billion for the state economy.

“This $7.2 million cable landing station is the gateway to better internet connectivity for Queensland businesses,” Ms Palaszczuk said. 

“Better connectivity means faster processing times for bigger data and more jobs. The cable will be able to provide Australia’s fastest data and telecommunications transmission speeds to Asia and the second fastest to the USA.

“It pitches Queensland firms to the forefront of the digital economy and will be a major drawcard for businesses and investment. We announced $15 million in funding to support this project in 2017 and we are now seeing the benefits.

“This is an investment that plans for the future and opens the opportunity for the jobs of the future here on the Sunshine Coast,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

State Development Minister Cameron Dick said the Palaszczuk Government was pleased to partner with Sunshine Coast Council to deliver this transformative project for the region and the state.

“Our data needs will only increase as we continue to attract new investment to Queensland and further diversify our economy,” Mr Dick said.

“Landing this international broadband cable directly on the shores of the Sunshine Coast will ensure we’re able to maximise every opportunity the digital era presents for our state.”

Robert Linsdell, managing director of Vertiv (Australia and New Zealand) said through the development of the cable landing station, Sunshine Coast Council is taking a huge step towards future-proofing the region’s digital future.

“The importance of investing in the right internet infrastructure cannot be overstated, particularly as we enter a new era of IoT and smart cities, where reliable connectivity will be paramount to all aspects of our daily lives,” Mr Linsdell said.

The international broadband network is exactly the kind of infrastructure needed to continue that growth, enable increased connectivity and enhance the Sunshine Coast’s and Queensland’s position as a leading technology and business hub.

“Having a vision for these new technologies is one thing, but council is going further by making this important investment and bringing its vision to reality.”

This is one of the Sunshine Coast's list of what the Mayor calls the region's "innovative region-making projects".

These include::

  • The Sunshine Coast Solar Farm – which has enabled the Sunshine Coast Council to become the first government in mainland Australia to offset 100 percent of its electricity usage through renewable energy
  • The Sunshine Coast Airport Expansion Project – which includes delivery of a new longer, wider runway which will enable direct access to new markets in Asia, the Pacific and other locations in Australia when the runway is completed and in service in 2020
  • Maroochydore City Centre – Australia’s only greenfield CBD and the nation’s truly smart city with technology and digital infrastructure solutions built in from the ground up
  • The Automated Waste Collection System at the Maroochydore City Centre – Australia’s first CBD-wide underground automated waste collection system
  • Establishing Australia’s first tripartite blue carbon initiative which will provide new opportunities and a sustainable future to our Blue Heart - over 5000 hectares of largely agricultural land in the Maroochy River Catchment.

Fast facts:

  • Sunshine Coast Council is facilitating the landing of a new international submarine cable to Maroochydore by mid-2020.
  • The project includes the installation of a 550km undersea fibre optic cable which will connect the Sunshine Coast to the 9700km Japan-Guam-Australia (JGA) submarine cable.
  • The cable, which is laid on or buried under the sea floor, will connect to the cable landing station adjacent to the new Maroochydore City Centre.
  • The cable landing station has the capacity to cater for four submarine cables and houses 24 data cabinets.
  • Security is a key consideration and the building has 20 cameras.
  • The cable landing station has electricity supplied from two different sources to reduce the risk of power outages and two 500kva generators as a backup power supply.
  • The Sunshine Coast International Broadband Network project will help stimulate local business, generate new investment, and improve telecommunications diversity to Australia’s east coast.
  • The cable will help to future proof the Sunshine Coast’s telecommunications capacity and increase the region’s smart city capability by ensuring access to important data networks.
  • The Sunshine Coast International Broadband Submarine Cable Project is forecast to deliver up to 864 new jobs and stimulate $927 million in new investment in Queensland.

www.sunshinecoast.qld.gov.au or view the project webpage for more information.


Master Builders call for action, warn on weak building activity

NEW Australian Brueau of Statistics (ABS) figures demonstrate that the challenges facing Australia’s building industry are mounting, Master Busilders Australia has warned.

Master Builders highlighted there has been a 7.3 percent drop in the value of building work approved across the country during July – the weakest monthly result since late 2016.

Master Builders Australia CEO Denita Wawn said, “Building activity is being hit by low expectations around the economy’s short-term growth prospects. We want to see government policies such incentives for businesses to invest as well fast-tracking infrastructure construction to help kickstart  activity.” 

Master Builders Australia chief economist Shane Garrett said, “Last month saw the number of approvals for new homes falling to its lowest since January 2013. This was driven by a reduction of some 19.6 percent in new apartment/unit approvals compared with June.

"Approval volumes in the high-density part of the residential building market have not been this depressed since the middle of 2012.

“Up until recently, commercial building activity had been one of the economy’s good news stories. However, things are moving in the wrong direction here too. In July, the value of commercial building work receiving approval declined by 9.9 percent compared with the previous month,” Mr Garrett said.

“Right across the spectrum, there appears to be a real absence of confidence and today’s figures confirm that building activity is paying the price,

“People and businesses also need tangible evidence that things are moving forward. Getting work started on major infrastructure projects as soon as possible would visibly demonstrate that better days are ahead for our economy,” Mr Garrett said. 

“As well as offering an instant boost to flagging demand, the installation of new infrastructure unlocks possibilities and opportunities, and allows for the creation of more homes and new businesses – the nuts and bolts of economic growth." 



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