New Vision for a competitive North | Engineering and construction suffer as mining slows

A report released by BIS Shrapnel this week indicates the slowdown in mining is having a substantial effect on the construction and engineering sectors. For over two years ANDEV has been warning that corresponding industries would suffer if more was not done to ensure major mining projects went ahead. This warning has been confirmed by the report, which predicts infrastructure spending will fall by 20 per cent within three years. Despite the report, CQUniversity has said it remains committed to the construction of a multi-million dollar engineering precinct at its Mackay campus in north Queensland.

The Australian hosted the Global Food Forum in Melbourne earlier this month, bringing together people from around Australia associated with the production, packaging and distribution of food stuffs. The forum highlighted the huge opportunities that exist in Australia due to Asia’s growing middle class. Our reaction to the forum and the implications for Northern Australia can be found here.

The forum also identified the many difficulties the North must overcome to achieve its potential as a global food producing superpower. In this opinion piece, Nick Cater writes “in the development of Northern Australia…the deep green movement is the enemy of progress.” Queensland cattle producer Graeme Acton decried excessive regulation, saying “the red tape, the green tape and the bureaucracy is escalating every day, there is no profitability in the industry and that’s why there is so high debt levels.”

The Northern Territory and Western Australia are the nation’s strongest performing economies, according to CommSec’s quarterly State of the States report released last week. Both states are growing strongly on the back of the ongoing resources boom. The NT has grown a stellar 27.5 per cent over the last year, while WA’s much larger economy is 13 per cent bigger and has seen a 3.5 per cent jump in population.

Senators from the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade committee visited the Pilbara last week in a sign that the defence of the resources rich region is back on the agenda. The Pilbara produces over $80 billion of Australia’s resources annually and the head of the committee, WA Senator Alan Eggleston, believes “there’s a feeling in the industry of concern, especially among American investors, that there perhaps should be a greater defence presence in this area.”