A major industry employing one in seven Queenslanders – more than any other industry – has warned the State Government to tread carefully when framing next month’s state mini-budget or face further fallout from the global economic crisis.
Releasing a new report today that reveals the property industry as the economic powerhouse behind Queensland’s growth in recent years, the Property Council of Australia said the sector could no longer be looked on as a state’s ‘cash cow’.
The Property Council’s Steve Greenwood said that while the report shows 5-year average property industry employment growth of 12.3 per cent per year, jobs were now at risk unless moves were made to ensure taxes were fair, red tape reduced, development assessment timeframes improved and land supply made efficient.
The report – the Economic Significance of the Property Industry in Queensland – reveals the sector has created more jobs, paid more tax, carried the biggest wages bill, and overwhelmingly provided the most direct and indirect benefit to the economy when compared to all other Queensland industries.
Mr Greenwood said: “We are hearing from within industry that the jobs of as many as 30 per cent of the workforce could be at risk, meaning up to 100,000 of the industry’s 312,000 jobs could go, as projects big and small are delayed or cancelled.”
“Already we are seeing major projects sidelined as the impacts of the global financial crisis arrive at our door.
“As an industry we do not want to see those impacts compounded by a ‘business as usual’ approach from Government, and while it would be tempting for the Government to further target the property sector in next month’s mini-budget, we would be very unhappy at any suggestion of new or increased taxes or charges.
“Indeed we are seeking tax relief as a matter of urgency.”
The report shows Queensland’s property industry has grown at 13.3 per cent per year over the past five years; now employing almost 14 per cent of the Queensland workforce.
Overall the industry has been responsible for paying 43 per cent of all tax dollars, or $3.7 billion, of the Government’s overall $8.5 billion tax take; made up of payroll tax ($304m), land tax ($485m), mortgage duty ($343m), and stamp duty (transfer) ($2.5b).
“For many years we have argued that the sector’s tax burden – up from 32 per cent a decade ago – is too high and not representative of our fair share.
“For every dollar of GSP (Gross State Product) generated by the property sector, our industry has paid 15 cents, as compared to just nine cents for the mining sector. This is unfair and it needs to be addressed,” Mr Greenwood said.
The report reveals the property sector is responsible for $24.9 billion – or 13 per cent of GSP – with the manufacturing and mining sectors each responsible for 9 and 8 per cent respectively ($19 billion and $16 billion).
“The property industry’s contribution has served the Queensland economy and Queensland workers well, with employment growth over the period of a staggering 78.5 per cent, at a time when overall employment grew by just 16.1 per cent.
“However, as a result, what we are seeing in 2008 is a massive collision between the needs of this giant workforce and the arrival of the global money shortage at our door.
“Failure to act responsibly and fairly with respect to this vital Queensland industry will not simply be a matter of a few wealthy property developers being forced to drive last year’s Porsche.
“What we could see instead are plumbers, painters, tilers, concreters, pool builders, and administrative workers out of a job and unable to contribute to family finances.
Mr Greenwood said the Property Council’s five priorities were –
- Lower property taxes and a consistent valuation system
- Improved planning and land supply
- Faster development assessment
- Sustainability and climate change assistance
- Increased and rapid infrastructure provision.
He said the Property Council would seek to work with Government over the coming months to deliver on the industry’s priorities, while ensuring job losses were limited, the tax burden was fair, and unnecessary red tape removed.
Mr Greenwood said that the facts outlined in the report should illustrate to Government that a healthy property industry is clearly at the centre of maintaining and achieving individual, economic and community wellbeing in Queensland.
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