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Townsville needs to compete for investment

In a post COVID world Townsville has an opportunity to shine by attracting private investment and population growth. 

However, to do this will require a clear, well-articulated economic plan with bold ambitions, backed by investment in key infrastructure, along with incentives and lower costs of doing business.  The building blocks for this strategy already exist through Townsville’s relatively diverse economy and a governance framework through the Townsville City Deal. 

With the Townsville City Deal currently going through its three-year review process it’s an opportune time to revisit framework and engage with local stakeholders to get the best out of the deal going forward. 

Since the Townsville City Deal came into effect several other government plans have been produced including the North Queensland Regional Plan.  Its important that these plans complement each other and provide a clear pathway for private investment as well as infrastructure delivery.

If we can get the Townville City Deal right and all three levels of government get behind the strategy, then the region will prosper as an investment destination over the long term.

In the short to medium term stimulus policies are needed to create economic activity and jobs as part of the economic recovery.  In recent weeks the Queensland Government has announced a $200 million Building Acceleration Fund to support development of catalytic Infrastructure across the state and opened applications for the HomeBuilder grant.

The Property Council has been strongly advocating for these two stimulus measures over the last few months and welcomes the Government’s announcements. Policies such as these have been identified as critical in supporting the industry through the tough times we are currently facing. 

The HomeBuilder scheme has had the desired effect of stimulating demand with many of our members experiencing good inquiry levels and sales in Townsville.  However, as the economic challenge resulting from the heath crisis increases further action is required to fast-track the economic recovery.

With Townsville’s property industry accounting for 16.5% of all jobs the ability for the industry to be a jobs generator is fundamental for the recovery.  To do so requires a different approach from the Queensland Government.  For example, over the past 5 years property tax hikes have sent the exact opposite message to potential investors.

With the competition for private capital investment intensifying Queensland needs take a different approach to the past and be a first mover to gain an advantage. 

Other jurisdictions have already recognised this and have thrown out the rulebook to seek out new investment opportunities. One example of this is the NSW Government who have halved land tax payments for twenty years for Build-to-Rent developments and removed any foreign investor barriers to the sector.   This presents a clear signal to investors that the Government will provide support to this new sector if you are willing to invest.

Its this type of thinking and action that is needed here in Queensland if we are to accelerate the economic recovery.  Leading into the State election on 31 October the Property Council will focus on promoting a suite of forward-thing actions to unlock activity in the property industry and to create jobs in Townsville and cities across Queensland.