Business confidence solid in CQ

Capricornia Chamber of Commerce president Phil Henry.

By Matthew Pearce

Central Queensland businesses are more confident than those in other regions, according to a Chamber of Commerce survey.

Capricornia Chamber of Commerce president Phil Henry said results from the Suncorp-CCIQ Pulse Survey measuring business sentiment showed Central Queensland exceeded the state average during the December quarter, at 57.9 per cent compared to 50 per cent.

Nearly half of all businesses reported an increase in total sales and revenue.

“Business sentiment is a reflection of the infrastructure works and project works around the region, mining’s still doing well, ag’s doing okay and all that flows through,” Mr Henry said.

“We’re not a major tourism destination, but once the borders opened up and we got first Queenslanders and then people from other states coming in, that was a big boost there as well.”

While the JobKeeper scheme is coming to an end next month, Mr Henry said he didn’t believe businesses in Capricornia were as reliant on JobKeeper payments as those in other parts of the state.

“The Capricornia Chamber of Commerce had our first members meeting of the year last week and out of about 45 people there none of them are using JobKeeper,” he said.

“But saying that, I was in Rockhampton recently at a cafe and the owner said she still had some staff on JobKeeper. I suspect it might be the midsize companies that are using it more, because their staff costs are so high relative to income.”

While construction and infrastructure were the region’s strongest sectors, Mr Henry said retail had been “flat for years”.

“What is becoming more evident there is the impact of online shopping, that’s really starting to do a bit of damage now. That’s why around the place there’s been an increased emphasis on buying local where you can,” he said.

“On the other hand, the various projects in the region are really giving us a boost, including roadworks, the Clarke Creek windfarm and Shoalwater Bay, which is absolutely massive.”

Mr Henry said these development projects and the region’s diverse economy had shielded CQ from the effects of Covid.

“Rockhampton is still the major service centre for the region, whether it’s health, medical, professional services … you can’t get a tradie for love or money,” he said.

“I predict the next issue will be trying to get more builders for residential construction because of the shortage of housing.”

For Phil Henry’s monthly column, turn to Community Hub on page 23.