Townsville: The Brasilia of North Queensland

Todays unemployment data was not good for North Queensland:

Conus: April jobs numbers are horrible for the North

Sadly I am without my computer and files until next week. However the talk was all the unemployment spike in Townsville. We should note here that defence forces are excluded from the ABS survey. Townsville Enterprise proudly proclaim that defence households account for about 10% of Townsville population. We also know that Townsville has relatively high public sector employment apart from that.

So what does this say about the current condition of the private sector in Townsville?

Response: build a football stadium. Go Brasilia!

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Fung associates found guilty

What more can I say. There have been so many contradictory statements around Aquis including the role of Michael King found guilty this week of charges including fabrication of documents.

King.jpg

The ACT government has given approval for 200 pokies at a redeveloped Canberra Casino. Fung bought the casino as part of the failed Reef bid last year for a reported few $million. However after forgivness of debt Casinos Austria actually paid Fung to take it away.

Interesting this has now been blogged by Richard Farmer in the ACT. Well known ALP icon and former media adviser to Hawke Keating et al. Gory details here: Don’t BARR our clubs.

Credit tightens for unit lending

Macquarie Bank launches clampdown on high rise lending

Macquarie Units

Barron Gorge? Well that’s not a complete listing of all 120 postcodes reproduced at the AFR and being among the largest postcodes in Qld will simply list all locations within 4870 I guess. Would suspect the beaches postcodes may also be included.

Interesting given the state of the Cairns unit market with minimal approvals and relatively tight vacancy rates. Not sure where such recent trends leaves the highrise Aspial development which still hasn’t come through in ABS approvals stats that I can see.

update: Meanwhile Westpac now appears to have reversed course in the other direction somewhat Westpac lowers deposit hurdle for property investors

Some further comments and charts on building approvals

Some further charts following previous comments on building approvals in Townsville not being catastrophic. I have updated some charts from previous years on residential building approvals related to population for the major metropolitan and regional councils. For consistency this continues with amalgamated councils for Cairns, Rockhampton and Sunshine Coast. This is dwelling approvals from ABS for the 9 months FY YTD.

Building comparison 1

While Townsville has fallen just below Cairns on this measure that gap is only slight and well above activity in Mackay et al. Townsville had previously been relatively high on this measure. Also as commented at Conus all the higher activity is weighted to SEQ.

We can also break this down into the different components of houses and units.

Building comparison 2Building comparison 3

Obviously differences in demographics and land supply between councils here. Just on houses Cairns isn’t rating too badly. However Cairns has a significantly higher proportion of existing unit housing stock than most comparable regional councils and this remains the component that has been missing since the GFC. Also plenty of warnings around currently of potential oversupply from that apartment boom in Brisbane.

Last to my comment on listless activity in Port Douglas a graph of dwelling approvals in Port Douglas SA2 related to dwelling approvals as a component of the entire Douglas – Daintree SA3, monthly with a 12 month moving average.

Building comparison 4

Oops not the best graph. PDSA2 is the lower blue line. Damn you Excel.

March building approvals

Regional March building approval data from the ABS today. Charts have been updated in building approvals

A few points:

  • The last two months haven’t been too bad at SA4 regional level but very bumpy in the breakdown.
  • A high number of dwelling approvals in Atherton was a feature in Tableland and boosted the total for the region.
  • In Cairns itself a turnaround from usual in past years with a higher number of dwelling approvals in SA2 ‘South’ than ‘North’. The previous month there was a very high number of dwelling approvals in ‘North’ at Trinity Beach-Smithfield.
  • Activity in Port Douglas itself remains listless despite the resurgent tourism sector. Most activity in the Douglas SA3 is happening in Daintree which includes anything north of the PD-Craiglie metropolis such as Mossman and Wonga Beach.
  • Despite catastrophism in Townsville the decline in dwelling approvals has not approached catastrophic levels relative to population. The value of non-residential approvals for the YTD remains way out of line above any regional comparisons anywhere In Queensland. Apparently they still think they deserve funding for a football stadium.

 

As always recommended commentary and analysis particularly related to the Cassowary Coast on building approvals at Conus: Regional Building Approvals; no joy in the Far North 3

Has the Queensland share of visitor time bottomed?

The BITRE have updated their national airports data for February. So I have updated the table of comparative airport data at Cairns Airport.

As previously noted we need to be cautious on the February data because of the extra leap year day. This wont much matter for annual numbers but will add approximately 3.5% (percentage points) to growth numbers for the month. So that will be about half the 7% growth reported for all Australian airports.

Despite that there are some very impressive double digit growth numbers out of Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast for the month. Cairns domestic not so much and while that’s not unusual around the Jan/Feb Chinese New Year shifts it’s also a reason to be cautious around some of the recent trend estimates. The BITRE numbers are accumulated separately and on a different basis to the Airport so won’t correlate precisely.

A quick look at the ABS Arrivals and Departures data subject of my last post and particularly an old favourite of state where most time spent by departing international visitors. This is where Queensland has been losing share for some time and now been overtaken by Victoria. There could be some indication that the downward slide has at least been stemmed and something to watch for any turnaround.

departures

Trend shown is a 12 month moving average.

ABS Arrivals

3401.0 – Overseas Arrivals and Departures, Australia, Mar 2016

SHORT-TERM VISITOR ARRIVALS

In trend terms, short-term visitor arrivals to Australia during March 2016 (658,900 movements) increased 0.3% when compared with February 2016 (656,700 movements). Currently, short-term visitor arrivals are 8.7% higher than in March 2015.

SHORT-TERM VISITOR ARRIVALS, Australia
Graph: short-term visitor arrivals, last ten years, Australia

The following table presents the top ten source countries (based on original estimates) for short-term visitor arrivals during March 2016. When trend estimates for short-term visitor arrivals for March 2015 and March 2016 were compared, the highest percentage increase was recorded for South Korea (30.2%), followed by Japan (26.0%), and China (20.5%).


Short-term Visitor Arrivals, Australia – March 2016

Trend
Seasonally Adjusted
Original
Feb ’16 to Mar ’16
Mar ’15 to Mar ’16
Country of Residence(a)
‘000
‘000
‘000
Trend % change
Trend % change

New Zealand
106.7
104.2
104.9
-1.0
-1.5
China
96.7
99.1
101.6
-0.4
20.5
UK, CIs & IOM(b)
59.4
59.3
87.7
0.3
4.1
United States of America
56.3
56.6
72.0
0.5
15.6
Japan
33.7
33.9
43.8
2.3
26.0
Singapore
34.6
36.0
37.2
0.3
10.3
Malaysia
29.4
30.6
30.8
0.4
8.9
Hong Kong
20.1
20.8
29.8
0.8
14.8
Korea, South
24.0
24.0
24.7
2.0
30.2
India
19.7
20.1
23.5
0.8
0.0

(a) Top 10 source countries based on original estimates.
(b) United Kingdom, Channel Islands and Isle of Man.

Additional commentary at Conus: International Arrivals continue to grow strongly