Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Cairns: Trends & Prospects

Last week was the annual Cairns Chamber of Commerce lunch presentations from local economists Bill Cummings and Rick Carr. A couple of months earlier than usual, and coincident with the FY end, is my  excuse for a belated brief post. The presentations will be posted at the Chamber website: Cairns Economic Snapshot - Trends & Prospects 

The Cairns Post covered the event with successive posts over a few days:

Typically, it was last which attracted most media attention and comment when the Townsville Bully jumped on it as a Cairns v Townsville rivalry story. This has been nicely covered at Queensland Economy Watch:
Is Townsville or Cairns the capital of North Qld?

My (not now too fresh) recollection is that Bill actually referred to Cairns and Townsville as having evolved as joint regional capitals of North Queensland? Not yet posted at Chamber website but is on the Cummings website with population numbers at page 24 of the presentation.

This was also placed in the historical context that both have developed as the larger Queensland coastal cities: page 25. I think the reference was that at the end of WW2 Cairns was the smallest of our tropical cities behind all of Townsville, Mackay and Rockhampton. Both Townsville and Cairns have now evolved as significantly larger regional cities.

In economic context the relevance of the presentation was the size of  the respective regional economy for a business audience. Something referred to here recently via another Chamber event (which I didn't attend) that a key differention between the two cities is the greater population density surrounding Cairns.

Disappointment of the lunch was question (again) and response on "imports" of goods and services from beyond the region. This was all a negative apparently in comparison to all local spending irrespective of price or quality! Bill, sadly, appeared to agree that imports were an economic negative? Note: I wonder how that was included in Bill's recent economic assessment of the Bruce Highway? Although perhaps Bill didn't do too badly in the current political climate, despite a somewhat mercantilist approach, that the focus should really be on generating external income from beyond the region ie: exports.

Meanwhile, the presentation by Rick Carr is also not yet posted at the Chamber website. However his most recent Cairnswatch report was also posted last week. Again, and in line with what has been reported and posted here, the continued decline in rental vacancy is of most interest. 


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