RETAIL discounts, live music, fresh food and chilled drinks are all part of a three-day Brisbane shopping festival that aims to boost CBD businesses and encourage local and visitor support.

Brisbane Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner said the popular Shop BNE City is returning for three days starting this Friday, tempting shoppers back to the Queen Street Mall as it continues to rebuild following the economic impacts of the global coronavirus pandemic.

“Queen Street Mall was one of the shopping precincts hardest hit by coronavirus, with a severe downturn in foot traffic hurting inner-city traders,” Cr Schrinner said.

“Shop BNE City is bringing out all the stops to encourage residents and visitors to head into the city to dine, drink and shop with a whirlwind three-days of exclusive retail discounts, pop-up bars and live entertainment. 

“To ease the holiday blues, Next Hotel will open its pool up to the general public, transforming into an urban oasis with live music and food and drink offers, while Jimmy’s on the Mall will transform into an Italian-inspired garden," Cr Schrinner said.

“Queen Street Mall will feature retro themed departure lounges, while the Wintergarden will put local musicians front and centre at the City Sounds Live Music Stage.”

Cr Schrinner said Shop BNE City was now entering its fifth year, but believed this year was "the most important event to date".

“Our local businesses are crying out for support and as a city we need to all do our part and buy local,” he said.

“Coronavirus forced many businesses to shut their doors earlier this year, but their doors are back open and they are ready to welcome people back.

“Events like this are a great incentive to draw people back into our retail and entertainment precinct and to give our local traders the support they need and deserve as they get back on track post coronavirus," Cr Schrinner said.

“With Christmas around the corner, this is a perfect time to get organised and get in early to do some Christmas shopping and take advantage of over 70 exclusive offers that will be available over the three-day event.

“I encourage everyone to pencil this event into their diary and head into the CBD. There’s so much on offer and it could bring the financial boost so many of our businesses desperately need right now.”

Shop BNE City will be held from Friday October 30 to Sunday November 1. 

www.bnecity.com.au/shop

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THE formal establishment of the Australian Business Growth Fund is "excellent news for high growth potential SMEs" according to Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, Kate Carnell.

The Australian Business Growth Fund, as recommended in the Ombudsman’s Affordable Capital for SME Growth report, will allow established small and medium enterprises (SMEs) with annual revenue between $2 million and $100 million, to apply for long-term equity capital investment of between $5 million and $15 million.

“Today’s launch of the Australian Business Growth Fund is fantastic news for high growth potential SMEs who require essential long-term equity finance to flourish,” Ms Carnell said. 

“The fund will fill the critical gap, identified in our Affordable Capital for SME Growth report, for patient capital to enable our up-and-coming SMEs to succeed.

“While businesses need to demonstrate three years of revenue growth and profitability, there are allowances in place for the impact of the COVID crisis on recent business performance," Ms Carnell said.

“Importantly the fund has appointed Anthony Healy as CEO and Will Hodgman as chairman and will be managed by private sector expertise. 

“Minority shareholding of between 10 percent and 40 percent will enable these promising businesses to retain control of their company, while providing the funds they need to invest in growth.

“Similar models in the UK and Canada are tried and tested – overcoming barriers to accessing affordable capital for businesses that have gone on to demonstrate successful growth," she said.

“We welcome both the Federal Government investment in the fund, along with the major banks and financial institutions’ contribution.

“The fund is valued at $540 million and we welcome the ambition to grow the fund to $1 billion as it matures.

“In supporting our high growth potential SMEs, the Australian Business Growth Fund will play a significant role in encouraging business growth and economic recovery at a time when we need it most.”

www.asbfeo.gov.au

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BLUE ENERGY Limited has commended yesterday’s announcement by the Queensland Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, that the Queensland Government would invest $5 million in a concept study to investigate the feasibility and options for a new transmission pipeline south, to connect the Bowen Basin’s gas reserves to the east coast of Queensland.

The commitment was contained in yesterday’s release of  the Queensland Economic Recovery Plan by the Premier.

Blue Energy has regularly commented on the enormous gas resource that has already been discovered in the North Bowen Basin. This basin has been producing gas north to Townsville manufacturers and electricity generators via the 273mm diameter North Queensland Gas Pipeline, since 2005.

The Bowen Basin contains independently verified (ACCC Jan 2020) gas resources of up to 15,000 petajoules (PJ) which, if fully developed via a new southern pipeline, could supply the east coast domestic gas market for up to 30 years.

Blue Energy said in doing so, it would act to lower east coast gas prices to end users, and importantly, enable manufacturers and gas users to enter long term gas contracts and give certainty of gas supply and price, for decades. This in turn would encourage expansion and growth of existing manufacturers and entry of new manufacturers to establish themselves in Queensland. 

This will mean more jobs in Queensland, Blue Energy managing director John Phillips said.

"Gas is not only used for low emission electricity generation, but is essential as a feed stock for the manufacture of pharmaceuticals, plastics, explosives, bricks, glass, fertilizer, PPE, and many more products, all of which are integral parts of the modern economy," Mr Phillips said. 

Brisbane based Blue Energy has 3,000PJ of gas resource in its 100 percent owned tenements around Moranbah.. It currently has Production Licence Applications with the Queensland Government with the view to supply gas into the domestic markets, both into Townsville and to the south, once the southern pipeline is built.

"Along with extending a lifeline to struggling Australian east coast manufacturers and helping rebuild the economy, post the COVID induced economic contraction, long term gas supply from the Bowen Basin will be critical to firm up the large renewable energy project roll out mandated in Queensland," Mr Phillips said.

"This will not only provide reliable dispatchable synchronous firming generation for the 50 percent renewable generation target set by the state, but could also provide a significant portion of the other 50 percent of electricity generation that is not renewable, and give the workers currently in the coal fired generation sector a 'just transition' to gas industry jobs.

"Blue looks forward to additional detail on the scope of the Bowen gas pipeline study being proposed by the government, and stands ready to assist," Mr Phillips said.

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MASTER BUILDERS Australia has come out strongly behind the Federal Government’s new HomeBuilder scheme, saying it "will be a massive relief to the thousands of home builders and tradies around the country". 

“HomeBuilder will be a lifeline for an industry facing a valley of death in the coming months. It will mean more new homes, more small businesses and jobs are protected and provide a stronger bridge to economic recovery for our country,” Master Builders Australia CEO Denita Wawn said.

“Based on the government’s estimated 27,000 grants, we think the scheme will be used for $10 billion in building activity, supporting the viability of 368,000 small builders and tradies – the businesses which employ 800,000 people in communities around Australia,” she said.  

“Supporting the home building industry is essential to strengthening the economy and helping Australia recover from the impacts of the pandemic. Residential building activity gives back more than double to the communities that sustain it with every $1 invested in home building activity providing $3 to the wider economy.  

“This means that HomeBuilder will provide a boost for thousands of tradies; the cafes, pubs, and ute dealerships that they frequent; as well as the thousands of building supply businesses that depend on the industry,” Ms Wawn said.  

“The scheme is well targeted and should maximise the number of builders, tradies, workers, apprentices and households that will benefit.

 “The Government has listened to Master Builders call for HomeBuilder to include grants for both new home builds and renovations. EY modelling commissioned by Master Builders shows that this stimulus mix will deliver the best return on investment for taxpayers.

“The eligibility criteria mean that the vast majority of Australians will be able to access the scheme. More than 80 percent of households have income of $200,000 or less.” Ms Wawn said.  

“The scheme is structured to get building activity going immediately and to provide safeguards around quality and consumer protection. Making HomeBuilder grants accessible through state and territory channels should streamline its rollout and building work must be carried out by a registered or licensed builder.

“The lag effect of building activity means that HomeBuilder comes just in time for builders and tradies staring out at a valley of death with forward work for the next 6 -12 months fast evaporating,” Ms Wawn said.  

“The building industry is simply too important to the economy and living standards to allow to collapse. It is the nation’s second largest industry, provides the most full-time jobs, trains the most apprentices and is 98 percent made up of small businesses.

"Master Builders welcomes the government’s HomeBuilder scheme,” Ms Wawn said.

www.masterbuilders.com.au

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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.

https://upside.com.au

 

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A $13.2 BILLION building and construction stimulus action would drive over $30 billion in new economic activity and create more than 100,000 new jobs across the economy, according to new EY economic modelling commissioned by Master Builders Australia.

Denita Wawn, CEO of Master Builders said, "We are seeking stimulus not subsidies from government. We want National Cabinet to urgently implement this independently modelled stimulus package and establish a special task force to fast track commencement of construction activity.”

EY modelling shows that a $13.2 billion investment by governments in a Master Builders proposed stimulus package would mean:

  • $30.9 billion in GDP from the $13.2 billion investment;
  • Creation of 105,500 jobs in construction and across the economy;
  • $17.6 billion in expanded construction activity (new dwelling starts, renovations and commercial construction activity).

"Building and construction is shaping up to be one of the industries worst hit in the long term by the COVID-19 economic crisis. We know from previous downturns that it takes four times longer for our industry to recover than the rest of the economy,” Ms Wawn said. 

"This economic crisis is not the result of a market failure; it is the result of the lockdown imposed by governments in response to the public health emergency of COVID-19. We are asking our political leaders to show the same courage and vision in supporting our industry as they showed in responding to the health emergency,” she said.

“Work for builders and tradies in 2020/21 is fast evaporating and the indications are that 2021/22 will not be much better. There is no time to spare in meeting this threat to the viability of nearly 400,000 building business and the jobs of 1.2 million people employed in our industry.

“We also want to see a dedicated building and construction industry taskforce established to oversee the implementation of the stimulus action plan. For stimulus to occur building activity needs to commence," Ms Wawn said.

"Builders and tradies cannot sustain their businesses and jobs on promises. We have seen that governments can fast track construction activity in response to natural disasters and COVID-19 is shaping up as an economic disaster."

EY was commissioned to model a stimulus package comprised of the following programs:  

A $40,000 uncapped the new home building grant.

  • $17 billion in additional economic activity resulting from $5.2 billion investment by government.
  • The creation of 58,311 jobs right across the economy almost replenishing the 77,580 jobs lost in construction since the start of the Covid-19.
  • Delivering 14,000 extra new homes. 

Resilience renovation program (funding for renovations to make homes resilient to natural disasters or to make homes more accessible).

  • $7 billion in economic activity for $4 billion investment by government.
  • Creating 24,036 jobs.

For commercial programs (programs including funding for cladding/asbestos rectification, a10% drop in developer charges, 5% increase in government spending in health, defence and education)

  • · $6.8 billion in economic activity for $4 billion investment by government.  This excludes wider economic benefits in relation to health, safety and building quality.
  • Creating 23,118 jobs.

www.masterbuilders.com.au

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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.

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