Bowen Basin on the up

AFTER a trip to Western Australia's Pilbara mining region where $2000 a week rents are the norm, the upward spiral in the Bowen Basin is no surprise to Central Highlands Mayor Peter Maguire.

Nor is the prospect of losing more service workers to the lucrative wages on offer at the mines.

"It's great having a resources sector in the region, but it has its downside for small and medium businesses, Local Government, and the rural sector for people trying to attract and retain staff when you've got to compete with the mines," Cr Maguire said.

"Fast tracking (affordable housing) developments is fine in theory, but there's lots of hoops to go through.

"We are bogged down at the moment in a lot of planning stuff," he said.

Cr Maguire said local governments in resource communities across Queensland had given a recommendation to the State Government asking for a long-term funding stream to support infrastructure projects in the order of $150 million a year or 4.5% of mining and petroleum royalties for five years, subject to an agreed funding model.

He said the trip was an eye-opener in being able to now draw comparisons between WA and the Bowen Basin.

"A lot of issues are the same, but here the issues are different from Emerald to Blackwater to Moranbah.

"In Emerald, we've got freehold land that can be developed," he said.

"There's none available at the moment because people have not moved on it, so they need to get moving and make it available to the market.

"We as a council are criticised by real estate agents and developers because we are involved in real estate, but at least we try and put blocks on the market.

"I suspect supply and demand is having an impact on price at the moment, but if you drive around there are still a lot of houses being built."

Cr Maguire said he was impressed by the WA government-run Landcorp, whose job is to normalise the property market by controlling supply and demand.


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