Jobless challenge underlines infrastructure priorities

The peak body for the state’s biggest industry has seized on the latest unemployment data to underline the importance of budget spending in South Australia’s infrastructure.

SA Executive Director of the Property Council Daniel Gannon said the property sector can play an important role in building job creation.

“The property sector is South Australia’s biggest industry, accounting for 10.8% in overall economic activity and supplying jobs for 168,000 people,” he said.

“The latest unemployment data accentuates the important role this sector can play in turning South Australia’s economic misfortunes around.”

Mr Gannon said South Australia’s unemployment rate has increased from 6.8% in May to 7% in June, with Tasmania (6.6%) and Queensland (6.5%) also returning jobless rises.

“South Australia remains the worst jobs jurisdiction in the nation, and it’s this challenge that underlines the importance of budget spending in infrastructure to put more hard hats and steel caps on South Australian workers.

This latest ABS data follows the release of the ANZ/Property Council Survey for the September quarter, an index that is based on sentiment and feedback from 1,592 property professionals across all jurisdictions.

“The September 2016 quarter results demonstrate the importance of tax and planning reforms, as well as significant defence investment and a strong focus on embracing a nuclear future,” said Mr Gannon.

“The latest survey reveals a confidence level of 133 on the confidence index and shows a +10 point quarterly shift complemented by a +13 point shift in sentiment in the 12 months to September 2016.

“This compares favourably with the national average of 128, down from the June quarter’s average of 131. Only NSW (139, down from 143) and Victoria (steady at 137) remain ahead of South Australia based on the September quarter results.”

Mr Gannon said that, based on this quarter’s results, the following must be noted:

  • SA has now recorded four consecutive quarters of growth on the confidence index
  • The September quarter has returned the highest level of confidence on record (dating back to March 2012)
  • For the first time on record, South Australia has recorded a level of confidence higher than the national average
  • South Australia and Victoria were the only jurisdictions to record quarterly increases in forward work schedule expectations
  • State economic growth expectations are in positive territory for the first time since the March 2014 quarter

“However, the data also reveals that respondents have a negative perception of the State Government’s ability to plan and manage growth, with this indicator remaining in negative territory for the past 18 consecutive quarters,” said Mr Gannon.

“It is our belief that there is a macro-economic story to be told in the latest survey data, following the Federal Government’s investment in South Australia’s defence future and a strong state focus on the findings of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission.

“Significant investments in defence – and exploring nuclear opportunities – means jobs and economic development will be sustained and boosted.

“Just as investors are now looking at South Australia knowing we have a more competitive tax and planning regime than in the past, there’s also a significant defence pipeline and a potential nuclear pathway to attract investment in large-scale infrastructure projects and other flow-on activities.”

Media contact: Daniel Gannon |E dgannon@propertycouncil.com.au