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NSW Property hotspots

Dubbo, Ballarat and Townsville are pumping property hotspots, proving mining’s not the only show in town: Terry Ryder

By Terry Ryder
Monday, 13 August 2012

Analysis in any field is meant to be a process of gathering information and drawing objective conclusions from the evidence. 

But that’s so last year. The modern way in Australia is to establish conclusions first and then seek evidence that supports it. Anything that doesn’t fit the pre-determined theory can be quietly ignored. 

Then you apply the old principle that if you repeat a lie often enough, people will eventually accept it as the truth. 

Analysis today often starts with the media sound-byte and works backwards from there. 

This is how we have arrived at the “reality” of a two-speed economy. The idea is trite, infantile, pathetic and plain wrong. 

But it’s there every day in headlines and articles and broadcasts – as an unchallengeable fact. Even though it’s a lie. 

National Australia Bank chief executive Cameron Clyne says talk of “a two-speed economy” is simplistic, incorrect and damaging to confidence. 

“It is not a two-speed economy,” he said, “It has never been a two-speed economy. It is a 10-speed economy. It always has been a 10-speed economy and always will be a 10-speed economy. There are a number of industries which are having very buoyant times – just as there are a number of industries that are struggling.”

When the ABS published data on jobs creation in June, most media coverage focused on the number of jobs created in the mining industry, with more references to the two-speed economy. In doing so they ignored the inconvenient truth that mining ranked only third for jobs creation. 

The leading economic sector in Australia in the past year is the “professional and scientific sector”, which puts mining in the shade on jobs creation. Number two is the health care industry. “Education and training” has also been a positive force in jobs creation recently. 

These sectors have received no publicity, amid the media’s obsession with resources as the only happening thing in our economy. Nor has the agricultural sector been given its due for the series of bumper results for commodities such as wheat and cotton. 

The vitality in multiple economic sectors explains why some of the strongest regional economies in Australia have little or nothing to do with mining. 

Townsville in Queensland is one of the best, because it is strong in multiple sectors, including tourism, government administration, the military, education and manufacturing – with some linkages to the mining industry also. 

Ballarat in Victoria is one of the unheralded stars of economic Australia, a place of bustling activity in many different spheres. This important regional city is strong in education, health and community services, tourism and manufacturing (a sector which is not dead, notwithstanding all the negative headlines). 

Ballarat is growing and plenty of new things are being built. I could make similar comments about nearby Bendigo, too. 

Whenever I mention Dubbo in the same sentence as the word “hotspot”, people are incredulous. For some reason no one expects anything exceptional to happen in places like Dubbo. But this is a vibrant regional city moving forward with increasingly large strides. 

It’s a strong regional centre for the Orana district of New South Wales, with big roles to play in education, medical services, support for agriculture, transport and logistics (it sits at the intersection for major routes road, rail and air transport) and tourism (it has the Western Plains Zoo, among other things). Developers are busy and lots of construction is happening, including work on residential, retail, commercial, wind farm and National Broadband Network projects. 

Centres like Townsville, Ballarat and Dubbo would not be pumping if mining was the only show in town.

Terry Ryder

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