Business confidence plummets to lowest level on record
BUSHFIRES and drought have combined to send business confidence in Queensland plummeting to the lowest level on record.
The Courier-Mail can reveal the latest Pulse Survey, to be released on Monday, shows owners and managers of businesses across the state are reporting trading conditions that are akin to the global financial crisis.
Conducted by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland, the long-running survey of hundreds of businesses found profitability had slipped to its lowest level since December 2010, forcing owners to shed staff and reduce employment hours.
While businesses had a positive outlook for the national and Queensland economy for the next 12 months, the survey was taken during the December quarter before the coronavirus outbreak which has raised fears of a global pandemic and sent global share markets into a tailspin.
CCIQ chief economist Marcus Smith warned the survey sent a "deafening message" that governments need to act with haste to kick start the economy and turn things around.
"This report shows Queensland businesses are doing it extremely tough amidst very challenging conditions with key economic indicators reflecting the general sentiment expressed by Queensland's business community," Dr Smith said.
"Businesses are navigating the fallout from natural disasters including bushfires and drought which are stifling tourism activity and agricultural production, which remain key pillars of the state's rural communities.
"Businesses continue to question the direction of the state, it's growing bureaucracy and lack of investment in projects now and in the pipeline."
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has stumped up $27 million for a tourism recovery package as China travel restriction sparked by the coronavirus outbreak bite hard on the Gold Coast, Cairns and the Whitsundays.
The Premier has challenged Prime Minister Scott Morrison to match her commitment.
However, the State Government's ability to provide further stimulus in the April 28 Budget is hamstrung by locked in costs and record debt.
CCIQ has called on the second-term Labor administration to focus its efforts on "enabling infrastructure" in regional hubs that creates prosperity and regulatory reforms that ease costs and helps create jobs.
The Pulse Index pegged business conditions at 39 points, the lowest ever, with sentiment among regional traders worse than those in the southeast Queensland corner.
Businesses reported that their December quarter turnover declined to its lowest level since March 2011 while 52 per cent of respondents reported their bottom line had deteriorated.
"Now is the opportunity for the state to transform its economy at a time when all indicators are pointing to the need for change," CCIQ's general manager of advocacy Amanda Rohan said.
"In addition, there needs to be a firm and transparent commitment to support and buy from small and locally-owned businesses enabling them to scale-up and continue employing staff while contributing to their local economies."