Postcode Mostcode

At the Cairns Post via Courier-Mail: Queensland has top two postcodes for dole recipients in Australia

CAIRNS and Bundaberg have more people on the dole than any other area in Australia, but one federal MP says some people snub work that is available.

The Queensland economic divide is made clear in new figures that show regional cities take out the top five areas for the sheer number of people on the dole.

A breakdown by postcode shows Bundaberg has 4465 people taking unemployment benefits, more than any other postcode in the country.

Second was Cairns, which had more than 4353 dole recipients, ­followed by Liverpool, near Sydney.

Parts of Toowoomba, Hervey Bay and Mackay rounded out the five highest areas in Queensland by postcode for the number of Newstart recipients.


Guess which postcodes have among the highest populations in Queensland and Australia? Give up?

DSS Payment Demographic Data

Building Approvals Data

Building approvals for February were released by ABS earlier this month. I hadn’t updated my own files for some time and I’m a bit circumspect about some of the data here. This was noted in the previous January edition of CairnsWatch:

Building approval figures previously issued for the Cairns Regional Council area for the period July 2015 to September 2016 have been revised significantly upwards by the ABS, with the result that the declining building approvals trend previously reported by CairnsWatch for this period is nowhere near as sharp. However the post-September figures, for October and November 2016, remain just as lacklustre as before, and just as enigmatically indicative of a plummeting trend. At face value, building approvals for Cairns have fallen in trend terms by 51.7% between November 2015 and November 2016. However this may or may not be real!

I currently can’t reconcile some of the monthly numbers I now have with what has been previously graphed at CairnsWatch for particular months, so am uncertain if this can be attributed to further revisions or I should check my own files. Anyway, this is my currently updated Cairns SA4 regions with Conus Trend overlay:


Current data updated anyway at Building Approvals and commentary on most recent monthly numbers at Conus: Little joy for the North in the Regional Building Approvals data

Productivity Commission: Transitioning Regional Economies

Transitioning Regional Economies

Commissioned Report

A 12-month study into the geographic impacts of the transition of the Australian economy following the resources investment boom.

  • Initial report 21 Apr 2017
  • Final report Dec 2017

Initial report 21 Apr 2017

The Commission was directed to submit an initial report to the Australian Government in April 2017. The report was publicly released on 21 April 2017.

Submissions are due by Monday 31 July 2017.

Read the initial report

Final report Dec 2017

The final report is expected to be provided to the Australian Government in December 2017.

The purpose of this study is to examine the regional geography of Australia’s economic transition since the mining investment boom, and to identify those regions and localities that face significant challenges in successfully transitioning to a more sustainable economic base as the investment phase is completed. The study will also consider the factors that influence their capacity to adapt to changes in economic circumstances.

More detailed information can be found in the terms of reference.

NVS Uncertainty

The latest National Visitor Survey was out yesterday which wasn’t positive in the Far North as posted at Conus: Domestic tourism continues to dive in TNQ

The Cairns Post has reported a defensive response from Alex de Waal at TTNQ: Tourism Tropical North Queensland refutes falling domestic visitor claim

Tourism Tropical North Queensland chief executive officer Alex de Waal pointed to a disclaimer on the report telling readers to treat the results with caution due to “some unexpectedly high growth rates” in recent quarters.

“We’re at odds with these statistics. We’re doing further research into it at the moment. There’s lots of evidence contrary to what the (national visitor survey) statistics are indicating,” he said.

Cairns Airport’s records show domestic arrivals for 2016 were up by 208,130 to 4.2 million, a 5.2 per cent increase.

Skyrail managing director Craig Pocock refuted the survey results, noting a “very strong year domestically”.

“We’ve seen good growth from all states,” he said.

A Tourism Research Australia spokesman said the 2014 and 2015 figures were under review and were likely overestimated for the Far North.

“The issue in the (survey) referred to in our disclaimer does appear to have an effect in the case of Tropical North Queensland,” he said.

I did post a cynical response here to the previous NVS: Why I distrust National Visitor Survey data. Airport data is an incomplete comparison and domestic traffic also includes international passengers. However I would have thought there should be some observable correlation when there are very large or volatile movements.

What everyone seems to neglect when it comes to the NVS is that it is a telephone survey with a statistical margin of error regardless of any other issues. As we move down progressively from the national data to smaller subsets the margin increases. Details can be found here: National Visitor Survey Methodology

Leap down at Airport

Cairns Airport:

2% growth trend for January and February

The 2016 leap year and change of month of Lunar New Year impacted the total monthly change performance in January and February. After normalising for these two factors, there was 2% passenger growth at Cairns for January and February combined.

Last years leap year and lunar phases were always likely to result in a negative month but was probably weaker than expected in February down 6.8% before any adjustment. If only the Airport had discovered the leap year last February when it actually was and boosted reported results at that time. Pro-rata leap year normalised data here at Cairnseconomy/Tourism/CairnsAirport over the last year and updated for these numbers indicates a decline around 4.7% this year compared to last February (ex transits and transfers).

Despite normalisation the growth rate has been trending down with the 3 month moving average now at a two year low. It is also the lowest growth rate for the combined Jan/Feb two month period covering the lunar new year since 2010.


It will be interesting to see the March numbers which will be coming off the back of double digit growth last year.

Cairns Post: Cairns Airport reports fewer flights in February, but growth still up for new year.


Rental Data to December 2016

Rental data for the 2016 December quarter from the RTA shows the rental gap between Cairns and Townsville widened further. Rental data is for new bonds lodged during the quarter.

rent premium

That is 3br houses. The gap for 4br houses is also $80 and 2br units $70. Meanwhile, there is some indication further south that the Mackay rollercoaster may be approaching the end of the ride.


The declines in y-o-y growth mostly appear to have worked through in Mackay. Despite the relative outperformance growth in Cairns has been anaemic in the most recent years.


Comparative data from RTA places Cairns well above regional centres outside SEQ. Gladstone here is a shocker with a median 3br rent of just $180 for new bonds during the quarter a decline of 40% over the last two years. However, Pete Wargent sees some positive signs: Gladdy nears a bottom.


RTA also provide data on total bonds held including this comparative regional data for general tenancies. Central West is meaningless as easily the smallest region and growth shown represents only about a hundred rental bonds. Brisbane comprises 48% of total rentals so is the dominant influence on Queensland growth of 3.6% for the year to 31 December 2016. More than double estimates of population growth.


The lowly Far North position here would overwhelmingly represent Cairns. May require further digging in the RTA data.

Airport spins roundaphobia

Round numbers are always a PR favourite and Cairns Airport obliged with its commentary for January:

The average daily passenger numbers at Cairns were 1,000 higher than last January.

For the more statistically minded that was an increase of 7.8% (ex transits) on the previous year.

airport4Source: Cairns Airport

With some controversy and criticism around the cancellation of new year charter flights from China in 2017 there is also commentary on the impact of Korean charters:

The Asian Lunar New Year was celebrated on January 28th, but last year it fell on February 8th. In Korea, the Lunar New Year is celebrated as Seollal. The demand for Seollal travel helped successfully fill Jin Air’s charter flights.

Adjusted for comparable dates around the fall of Lunar New Year, there were 18% more passengers on the Korean charters than last year’s charters from mainland China. Travel industry feedback from Korea indicates that most Jin Air travellers had a 4 or 6 night holiday and they only visited Tropical North Queensland when in Australia.

The monthly trends around this time can always be volatile with shifts in the timing of the lunar new year so probably best to wait for February numbers. This year February will also have a day less after the leap year last year.

Further graphs and BITRE data have been updated at the Tourism\Cairns Airport page.

Dransfield declares Cairns (& Port Douglas) capital of North Queensland

Dransfield have posted a year end review of their 2016 Hotel Futures:

In FY2016, the Cairns & Port Douglas STA market was the highest growth Capital city market in the country, buoyed by resurgent international and domestic leisure visitors

• Significant RevPAR growth of 11.2% exceeded our already robust 9.2% expectations as Australian leisure markets continue to prosper

• Occupancy levels improved 3.3 points to 68.2%, facilitating rate movement. This is the highest level achieved in more than a decade

• Rates grew by a strong 5.8%, slightly above our expectations • The STR sample of generally higher quality hotels recorded similar RevPAR growth of 11.6%, with slightly higher occupancy growth than the ABS set

• Certainty surrounding the proposed Aquis development has not progressed, stalling prospective developers plans for additional development. It is unlikely that we will materially alter our low supply expectations

• Long term RevPAR expectations for 5.3% growth p.a are expected to be maintained in Hotel Futures 2017 off a slightly higher base.


While the accolade of Cairns as a capital city is appreciated the Dransfield review covers the top ten markets which also includes such as Gold Coast.

The comments on Aquis are consistent with previous comments in Dransfield reports that the uncertain bona fides of the proposal may have been a net negative for Cairns.


Vertigo hits Reef

Reef Casino Trust (RCT) has announced the estimated distribution for 2H (2nd half year) 2016. Not an outstanding result anticipated:

With slightly more than 3 weeks’ trading to go before the end of the financial year, our current estimate of the distributable profit* for the full year 2016 is approximately $12.0 million, compared to 2015’s distributable profit of $14.96 million.
For the Reef Hotel Casino’s financial year to date, hotel operations have performed strongly. Table games performance was slightly up on last year.  However, the disruptions caused by our major renovations on the ground floor of our complex, including the reduction in entertainment, combined with increased local competition have had a greater impact on electronic gaming than anticipated.
Our major renovations will be largely completed by the end of the year and we can look forward to our new facilities on the ground floor of our complex providing an even more competitive product to our local and international patrons and customers

I would be more confident in the explanation here if it didn’t follow a softer 1H result when none of these factors were apparently relevant. Also uncertain what the increased local competition is?

The disruptions as I understand almost entirely related to the entrance area and previous Vertigo Bar, now creatively renamed and reopened as Bar36, with no direct impact on gaming facilities? Must drop by for a look while awaiting release of full results and commentary in February.

RCT reports on a calendar financial year with the 2H tourism season generally outperforming 1H:


That’s the lowest annual result since 2012 when the upper casino level was closed most of H1 for renovations. It’s the lowest 2H result since 2010. Results here in the graph have been adjusted to strip out one-off costs from the failed Aquis takeover in 2014.

Five year candlestick history from the depths of what was the bottom for RCT in 2012 with the ‘Aquis bump’ prominent:



Lots happening in the gaming sector. Ken Chapman has departed board of Aquis Entertainment which has been prominently noted in Cairns. All the big Australian & NZ casino operators have been significantly discounted following arrest of Crown marketing team in China.

Key RCT stakeholder Casinos Austria is also subject to a takeover offer in Europe. Trading in RCT was more active than usual since the open of trade yesterday even before the RCT announcement.

*Wikipedia: vertigo is a sensation of spinning while stationary.