Our 4.8 per cent unemployment rate is now below national average with 17000 jobs created in the Sunshine Coast region in the year to August 2016.

Unfortunately the current economic outlook for Queensland is not so bright with recent ABS figures showing 32,000 jobs disappearing across the state since the beginning of the year.  With unemployment continuing to grow and business confidence spiralling downwards, Queensland is now battling Tasmania for last place on economic growth.

Since the state budget, a wide range of independent reports indicate a decline in economic activity, investment and business confidence with lack of incentives and support and excessive bureaucracy seen as major concerns for the Queensland business community.  Confidence in the property industry has fallen to its lowest level in three years, which the ANZ Property Council Survey attributes directly to Labor’s foreign investors tax.

So why is the Sunshine Coast bucking this trend and seeing a growth in employment? Some of our new jobs could be attributed to our tourism boom – thanks to a 14.9 per cent increase in domestic visitors in the 12 months to June 2016 and our growing reputation for major events like the Aussies and Ironman.

And there’s more good news for local jobs on the horizon with the start of the $400 million expansion of Sunshine Plaza expected to generate more than 2900 jobs during construction and 2300 extra retail positions when it opens by Christmas 2018.

We are already seeing the flow on effects of the $1.8 billion investment into the Sunshine Coast University Hospital which will provide 2500 new jobs when it opens next year. Work is commencing soon on a $1.13 billion upgrade of the Caloundra to Sunshine Motorway section of the Bruce Highway and we are hoping to see the approval of a $181 million Federal Government loan to build the new runway at the Sunshine Coast Airport. This will more than double the airport’s capacity and give us access to new domestic and international destinations – which will provide a $4.1 billion boost for our local economy and an extra 2000 local jobs.

With an expected 370,000 extra people moving to the region by 2036 we’re about to see huge growth in construction with property development and associated infrastructure at Palmview and Caloundra South. In addition, the new Maroochydore Sun Central CBD project is expected to generate 30,000 jobs by 2040. However we need the infrastructure to keep pace and that’s what we’re fighting to achieve.

With an expected 370,000 extra people moving to the region by 2036 we’re about to see huge growth in construction.”

All three tiers of government are working with business leaders to ensure the Sunshine Coast economy will continue to be a great place to live, work and raise a family. Recently we participated in a combined government and business forum hosted by Sunshine Coast Business Council and University of the Sunshine Coast to listen to experts presenting their views on challenges facing the region.

The top three priorities we are working on for the Sunshine Coast is getting the final tick of approval for the Sunshine Coast Airport expansion, bringing forward the six-laning of the Bruce Highway between Palmview and Caloundra and the duplication of the North Coast Rail line.

Unlocking the bottleneck on the Bruce Highway is critical to our continued growth, as is the rail duplication which will take more vehicles off the road by providing a better service for Sunshine Coast commuters and facilitating more movement of freight by rail.

Getting this key transport link to Brisbane working right is the first step in creating an integrated regional transport strategy to meet the needs of our growing population.

fiona-simpsonFIONA SIMPSON MP
State Member for Maroochydore