Regional development

Queenslanders value regional development more than other states

Queenslanders rank regional development as more important than other states, CEDA Chief Executive Melinda Cilento said during the release of Queensland data at a CEDA event in Brisbane.

The Queensland results are part of a major national poll commissioned by CEDA for the report Community pulse 2018: the economic disconnect. The poll explored who has gained from Australia’s record run of economic growth; their most important issues personally and to the nation; and attitudes to work.

Ms Cilento said there were results that were surprisingly unimportant to Queenslanders.

“Reduced commuting times, access to high quality information and communication technologies and the ability to move between jobs and sectors with ease,” she said.

“I was surprised they didn’t rank higher up on the list of importance.”

Ms Cilento said nationally only five per cent survey respondents felt that they had personally gained a lot from Australia’s economic growth.

“When you add up the proportion of people who think they’ve gained a lot or a little and the proportion of people who feel that they haven’t gained or don’t know whether they’ve gained, you get 55 per cent of people who when surveyed say that they don’t feel that they have gained from 27 years of sustained economic growth,” she said.

“I didn’t really expect a rousing cheer squad amongst the wider community for this great track record, but I didn’t expect those results.”

Ms Cilento said in comparison Queensland survey respondents were slightly less excited about economic growth. 

“The people who said that they had not gained at all or that they didn’t know was 59 per cent in Queensland,” she said.

“So similar results but if anything, feeling the economic growth love a little bit less here in Queensland.”

Queensland Council of Social Services Chief Executive Officer, Mark Henley said that he wasn’t surprised by the Queensland results.

“The biggest issue we hear is people literally living in poverty because the cost of living is now unaffordable,” he said. 

“So, to hear that only five per cent of people have benefitted doesn’t come as a surprise.

“What has changed is society, so back in 1960, 72 per cent of households had a one income family and survived and probably did quite well for most of those families and yes, some people would have been doing it tough, but 72 per cent, one income families. 

“By the time it got to 1980 it was 50/50 single income and double income families.

“I don’t have the most recent statistic, but by 2012 it’s the opposite, its closer to 70 per cent of families that are now double income and I think it shows in your report, not only are they double income, there’s a high proportion of them that can’t afford the basics.”

Mr Henley said the bottom 40 per cent of incomes in Australia have not shifted and expenditure is going up at rates that have become unaffordable.

“It’s the things such as housing,” he said.

“Even the RBA has stated in one of their most recent reports around housing; 30 per cent on top of housing costs come from regulation whereas back in 2000 it was virtually nil. 

“Look at energy costs, eight years and 100 per cent increase.

“Look at education, even free education, we know that organisations working with families doing it tough, they know that they need to budget free education, at least $2000 for each child to be educated.

“We didn’t have to pay for water years ago, now we have to pay for water. 

“They are all the issues that now exist that didn’t previously exist, so our whole society has changed and even if you have two incomes you might not be having a good life.”

Griffith Business School Dean (Engagement), Professor Anne Tiernan said the Community pulse 2018 survey results are broadly consistent with other research.

“Data from the Australian Elections Study and the Edelman Trust Barometer is showing this extraordinary decline in confidence and trust in our main institutions,” she said.

“That’s exacerbated by the appalling breaches of trust through the royal commissions into institutional child abuse, banking and so on, so it’s really not surprising that we’re seeing some concerns.”

Professor Tiernan said there were a couple of things from the survey results that surprised her. 

“I was concerned about how childcare actively rated as a very low/not important concern,” she said.

“I think the fundamentals, the foundations for learning and success need to be back much further than school and I was really surprised to see that missing. 

‘I think it’s so interesting in the Queensland results, you see this very big anxiety about young people’s skills and employment opportunities and I think many of us would be concerned about that, particularly in parts of regional Queensland. 

“I think it’s interesting, but that’s not what politicians are talking about.”