Wednesday, February 01, 2012

The new Brisbane line divides the new haves from the new have-nots

Gina Reinheart is one of the new haves

Mention "the Brisbane Line” to someone old enough and they will think of the line on a map allegedly drawn during the second world war to separate the Australia’s South East from the rest of the nation which would be ceded to Japan in the event of an invasion.

The line was a myth, eventually found by a royal commission to have never been part of
Australian defence planning.

But Deloitte Access Economics says a new Brisbane Line has emerged, one that travels from the south east corner of Queensland to Adelaide confining the 80 per cent of Australian workers who live south east of it to a relatively small triangle of land.

The difference is that this time it is the 20 per cent of our workers who live north and west of the line who’ll prosper.

Access says 53 per cent of the major investment projects either under way or approved live north and west of the line...

Writing in this morning’s Access Investment Monitor economist David Rumbens says “rarely have Australia’s economic prospects been as geographically skewed”.

“Even within Queensland the line provides a handy dividing line,” he says. “Brisbane and the Gold Coast struggle with weak construction and a weak housing market, while to the north the struggle is about how to find and house workers.”

North Queensland is hosting three massive liquefied natural gas developments – a $20 billion off-shore project near Gladstone, due for completion in 2016, a $16 billion coal seam methane project in Gladstone and a $15 billion inland gas pipeline terminating near Gladstone.

South Australia is waiting for word from BHP on the proposed $20 billion expansion of the Olympic Dam uranium and copper mine.

Mr Rumbens said even within states the “Queensland line” denotes those parts set to grow quickly from those less fortunate.

“Olympic Dam is north of the line in South Australia, manufacturing is south of it,” he told the Herald.

“You can use the line to predict economic growth. Investment leads to economic growth. Growth will be fast on one side of the line, slower on the other,” he said.

In the December the number of major projects under construction or about to start reached a new record high of $415 billion, up 43 per cent on a year earlier.

A separately released National Australia Bank survey shows business confidence growing strongly in Western Australia and Queensland, growing weakly in Victoria and South Australia, and falling in Tasmania.

Published in today's SMH

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