Southern Queensland props up ailing resource sector

The coal industry may be experiencing a downturn, but in south-west Queensland the resource business is booming. The Queensland Resources Council says the industry spent $37.9 billion in the state last financial year on mining support businesses, ranging from construction companies to catering.

Queensland Resources Council Chief Executive Michael Roche says the gas sector has picked up much of the slack.

“In the Darling Downs region there was $2 billion spent. That’s an increase of 80 per cent on last year. Further west in the Maranoa, which picks up places like Roma, another $325 million spent, another 80 per cent increase.”

“The growth in the gas sector offsets the downturn in coal,” Roche says. “Looking to 2013/14, we are seeing continued strong spending by the gas sector, but there’s no getting away from the coal sector tightening its belt.”

Roche says one in every six jobs on the Darling Downs is linked to the resources sector, “if we don’t kill the golden goose, this is a sector that will give and give for many decades to come.”

“I’m talking about centuries of agriculture here,” says Mayor of Western Downs Regional Council, Ray Brown. “Planning for the future is key. Our area will always be an agricultural sector, I hope for thousands of years to come.”

Brown says the resource industry has helped curb the national trend of rural drift. “We’re probably one of the only regions in the whole of Australia where our rural drift has stopped.”

“All activity contributes to the community in some form. Our biggest impact is probably drive-in, drive-out. We’re not that far from the eastern seaboard, and we know everyone wants to smell the sea breeze. I have a strong agricultural sector. It’s allowed our sons and daughters of the farming community involved in having income from the energy sector.”

“The opportunity is there at the moment for the energy sector to benefit our region, but we have to do it wisely,” Brown says.

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