Fraser Coast's future bleak
THE GOVERNMENT can talk up the economy all it likes but if Kevin Rudd and Wayne Swan fail to look closely at the effects of the recession on regional Queensland, then the future is bleak for areas like the Fraser Coast.
That’s the grim seasonal analysis from VDM Bellero boss Bob Goodwin as he looks ahead.
Mr Goodwin, who has lived on the Fraser Coast since 1982, sees the government’s school-building stimulus package as a godsend, but with that work set to run out in mid-2010 he is asking where the next boost to the economy is coming from and when.
“The cupboard is bare after the schools package,” the managing director of Bellero Construction in Hervey Bay says.
“Business people on the Fraser Coast are all doing it tough. No one is making a profit. It is very difficult. Employment opportunities are very low.
“It’s really tough out there. The government has an obligation to talk up the economy, but it also needs to be realistic and see that it’s bloody tough in some places.
“The Fraser Coast will survive but it will be a battle and people will get hurt and unemployment will increase if the government does not intervene.
“What I’m saying is quite scary.”
Bob Goodwin, an engineer and an economist, endorses the concerns coming out of Downer EDI Rail in Maryborough, in the wake of the state government’s decision to look overseas for tenders for its next contract.
He is acutely aware of the potential impact the loss of the coveted Queensland Rail contract would have on the region.
In the past Bellero has benefited indirectly from the Downer EDI successes, regularly retooling the Bowen Street factory when new contracts were secured.
He is urging the Federal Government to activate at least one more financial package in 2010 to rescue regional Queensland.
“I don’t know what it should be but it should support small industry rather than individuals.
“I believe the Federal Labor government is astute.
“They can’t go into an election at the end of 2010 and have regional Queensland in recession.”
He highlights also the problems encountered by the regional councils since infrastructure contributions began to fall off and says his business, as a result, cannot depend on the council for projects.
“The Federal Government has an obligation to get the four major banks to get developer finance out there.”
He also wants the government to address the dearth of bank guarantees in the industry now after they were soaked up by the major mining projects in WA.
“We are not making budget, like everyone. We are trying to get federal accreditation and trying to compete and enter into some mining projects.”
He concedes that umbrella company VDM’s success in Western Australia is helping more than any other factor to keep the wolf from Bellero’s door.