Hammer falls hard on Central Queensland building industry

WHILE the building and construction industry grows confidently across the state, the hammer is falling hardest on Central Queensland, new figures show.

That's the outlook according to a new Master Builders survey of industry conditions, for the December 2014 quarter, which showed the number of dwelling approvals in Central Queensland, over the 12-month period from November 2013, had dropped by 49%.

The only other region to suffer a downturn in the number of dwelling approvals (over the same period) was Mackay, which recorded a drop of 51.8%.

Other regions, including the Gold Coast, the Sunshine Coast, Brisbane and Far North Queensland, recorded positive figures in the number of dwelling approvals in their respective regions (see table).

Master Builders' deputy director Paul Bidwell said despite experiencing a slight fall, business confidence in Queensland remained at a high level during the December 2014 quarter.

"While for many regions of Queensland, the reality of the end of the resources boom continues to be felt, it is reassuring that confidence is levelling at a relatively high point," Mr Bidwell said.

"Although the resource regions of Central Queensland and Mackay and Whitsunday have been struggling for a long time, they remain optimistic for the future.

"In another positive sign for the industry, both employment and apprenticeship levels improved over the three months to December, which is an encouraging indication that businesses are gaining confidence about their long-term prospects."

Mr Bidwell said the most critical constraint on Queensland business growth in the December quarter was, once again, the lacklustre level of demand.

That had been the biggest drag on the construction industry since the December 2011 quarter.

"This is a result of a cooling in mining investment, weak confidence, fears about job security and troubled government finances," he said.

"Infrastructure charges have re-emerged as a constraint along with the planning approval process. The cost and time taken to bring land to the market has increased and is causing frustration among builders and developers.

"It will be important that the new government continues with the reform process to get on top of these issues."