Approvals still behind

BUILDING approvals have risen across the Wide Bay-Burnett but are still 34 per cent below the average benchmark of the two years between 2006 and 2008.

And according to the latest Urban Development Institute quarterly figures, we are sitting at fourth of the six regional Queensland areas that were assessed.

The number of recent council approvals for units in the region has been described as “poor” in the survey.

“While unit approvals can be volatile,” the survey says, “in the past year they have averaged more than 80 per cent below the benchmark of the monthly average of 2006-2008. This level ranks fourth-worst of the six regional councils assessed.”

Local UDIA president Daniel Poacher said yesterday that the region also showed a trend from early 2009 of declining employment in the construction sector.

“Notwithstanding full-time equivalent employment has increased in the last quarter, employment levels have reduced by 4459 or 32 per cent of full-time employees in the period from November 2008.

“More recent improvements may be in response to development support by the Fraser Coast council by way of the shovel ready policy to discount infrastructure charges.” Mr Poacher said the current data showed yet again that there was a strong statistical relationship between dwelling approvals and construction unemployment.

“Each approved new dwelling creates employment for around 1.5 to two unemployed construction workers and if we could return to a longer-term average of dwelling construction some 2700 unemployed persons in the region would be able to gain employment.

“These latest results are positive for our region and show that we are now hopefully moving to a more positive position.

“Predictions of imminent interest rate rises are more alarming for the Queensland housing and construction industry than any other state and this certainly won't help our region move forward.”

Across regional Queensland total private sector house and unit approval numbers are around 40 per cent below the average level of the financial years 2006-2008.

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