No property boom from Queensland's latest FIFO mining project: Terry Ryder

No property boom from Queensland's latest FIFO mining project: Terry Ryder
No property boom from Queensland's latest FIFO mining project: Terry Ryder

The image-makers who groom politicians think we’re simplistic creatures easily led. Primary school mantras like “stop the boats” will get us every time, apparently. Of course, if they were right, no one would ever lose an election. 

Queensland’s Premier Anna Palaszczuk, not the sharpest tool in the political shed, clearly thinks the “jobs, jobs, jobs” song sheet is the best one to sing from. She and her ministers are chanting this mantra in front of cameras every day.

But it doesn’t matter how good the song, if the singer is tone deaf it’s still going to jar with the listener.

So the Premier’s big pitch to justify a mining lease to Indian corporate villain Adani for a mega-billion coal mine - jobs for Queenslanders, jobs for locals, jobs for everyone north of the NSW border - had a hollow sound. You could see in her delivery at the press conference that she didn’t really believe it herself. 

She is no doubt aware of Adani’s track record of being big on rhetoric and small on delivery. Already the company is pulling back from earlier statements about starting work and there is unlikely to be any action in the next 12 months.

The company won’t even make the key investment decision until some time in 2017. It has been unable to find a bank willing to lend for the project and there will continue to environmental opposition and court challenges.

 As one major newspaper commented: “Much is the wailing and gnashing of teeth at the move by the Queensland government to approved the project, but this approval is entirely political. It’s all about the appearance of commitment to jobs – jobs that will never occur unless the coal price doubles.”

If and when the project goes ahead, the modern trend of flying in your workers from distant locations and accommodating them in temporary workers camps will seriously dilute the economic and property market benefits in Central Queensland.

To recap, this week the Queensland Government issued the mining lease Adani needs to proceed with its Carmichael mega coal mine in the Galilee Basin. I’ve seen many different cost estimates for this project, anywhere between $8 billion and $15 billion.

Whichever way you look at it, it’s a massive project. The proponent says there will be 4,875 jobs in building and operating the mine, plus 1,520 jobs in building and operating the rail link to Abbot Point. There will be, allegedly, a $4.1 billion boost to the economy. 

But can we believe the numbers about jobs and economic benefits, and will it make any difference to ailing property markets in Central Queensland?

The mine site is a long way from major population centres. This will be a FIFO operation with temporary accommodation camps set up close to the mine. And we’ve seen what happens to local towns when mining companies bypass the local communities and hire workers from outside the area, flying them in from distant locations.

Moranbah, Gladstone and Emerald are examples. All attracted major development of new dwellings from builders who expected rising demand for local houses and services, not understanding that most would be flying in and staying in camps. Massive oversupply resulted, causing rents and property values to fall. 

The existence of major resources developments puts pressure on local towns, for example its medical services - but they derive few of the benefits because most of the workers don’t live locally and they don’t spend locally. They take their fat pay packets back home, which might be Brisbane, the Sunshine Coast, Sydney or Perth.

So the core message is that there will be no property boom, if and when Adani eventually does go ahead with its mega project.

And, in terms of jobs for locals – there will be few, if any.

Terry Ryder is the founder of hotspotting.com.au. You can email him or follow him on Twitter.

Terry Ryder

Terry Ryder

Terry Ryder is the founder of hotspotting.com.au.

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Queensland Property Boom

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