Why Queensland is the ‘bankruptcy state’

QUEENSLAND has become the broke state, recording more people entering bankruptcy arrangements than anywhere in the country.

The shock flashpoint for Queensland's economy has prompted business groups to issue a dire SOS to Morrison and Palaszczuk governments, urging shovel-ready infrastructure projects to be immediately brought forward.

More than 5000 Queensland small businesses and individuals entered into bankruptcy arrangements in the 2017/18 financial year - the highest in the country - with more than 9000 cases of declared, final insolvencies across the state in 2018 calendar year.

Not since 2001-2002, has Queensland recorded the most number of bankruptcies of any state or territory.

A spokesman for Treasurer Jackie Trad, pictured, trumpeted Queensland’s job creation efforts. Picture: Annette Dew
A spokesman for Treasurer Jackie Trad, pictured, trumpeted Queensland’s job creation efforts. Picture: Annette Dew

The data from the Australian Financial Security Authority and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) reveals the state's regions are the hardest hit, which will spark Federal MPs to double down on their pressure on the state to build more dams and water infrastructure.

Gladstone, Townsville and Cairns notched up large increases in finalised insolvencies between 2014 and 2018.

Business in construction, accommodation and retail have gone to the wall more than any other industry in the past financial year.

A depressed housing market in some of the regions and high unemployment has meant people have less money to spend. Queensland's trend unemployment rate hit 6.3 per cent in June 2019, up from 6.1 per cent a year earlier.

Analysis by the Chamber of Commerce of Industry Queensland has also revealed a decline in private sector job creation in the past five years.

The analysis also exposes how hard it is for business to thrive - just 63 per cent of Queensland firms operating in 2014 still had their doors open last year.

And a statistic likely to dog the Annastacia Palaszczuk in the lead up to next October's election, on top of having highest the unemployment rate of all mainland states, 56 per cent of all jobs created were linked to the public sector, the analysis reveals.

CCIQ spokesman Dan Petrie said the level of private sector investment in the state had fallen dramatically in the past decade.

"(It has lead) to Queensland's poor job outcomes and elevated levels of financial distress,'' Mr Petrie said.

"Confused policy settings around mining projects, drought, above inflation wage hikes, and the high cost of compliance have all played a part with an average of four Queensland business a day closing down.

"The levels of financial distress, particularly in rural areas have been exacerbated by slow response to key resources projects and drought which is now at crisis levels.

"The response to drought has to reflect the same level of urgency we saw during the global financial crisis in terms of bringing forward and accelerating shovel ready projects, assigning dedicated teams to assist in processing claims and providing lifesaving assistance.

"We need to have a frank discussion about the water infrastructure including dams and grids for our regions well into the next century because the Queensland economy is banking on it."

A spokesman for Treasurer Jackie Trad trumpeted Queensland's job creation.

"Over the past 12 months, the Palaszczuk Government has overseen the creation of almost 52,000 jobs - or 1000 jobs every week,'' he said.

"Importantly, more than 90 per cent of the jobs created over the past 12 months have been full‑time positions.

"Our investment in infrastructure has increased each year since we came to government, and the 2019 Queensland Budget delivered a record $49.5 billion infrastructure spend, with a focus squarely on regional infrastructure delivery.

"Confidence in the Queensland economy is underlined by real retail turnover, which has grown by 2.7 per cent over the past year - the strongest growth among states and ten times faster than the national average.

"The number of bankruptcies in Queensland this year is down across the board, reflecting a trend that has been in place since the Palaszczuk Government came to power."

Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said Liberal National Government was committed to supporting the Queensland economy through investments, including $10 billion in health and education as well as $9.8 billion in infrastructure projects across the State over the next four years, and lower taxes.

"Our Government's strong fiscal management means that we can support a stronger economy for Queensland as well as guarantee the essential services Queenslanders rely on," he said.

"The Morrison Government will continue to work with the State Government to address the economic challenges facing the State, particularly in relation to drought and flood."