$36bn project boon keeps Mackay economy buoyant

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New infrastructure, a solid regional economy and strong job market will help Mackay survive an economic recession, and will keep the town's position as one of Queensland's property hot spots, according to planners.

Narelle Pearse, CEO of the Mackay-Whitsunday Regional Economic Development Corporation (REDC), said the north Queensland town was "faring well" in the current economic climate.

"While we're feeling some effects, we're quite sheltered due to the huge resource base in our economy, being coal," Pearse said.

"We have $36bn in projects across the region and they don't seem to be slowing down - that's a $2.5bn increase from last quarter."

Governments and companies such as BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto are pouring billions of dollars into port facilities and local infrastructure, which Pearse said would create more jobs and wealth for the region.

The biggest challenge the town faces is to attract and retain skilled workers, and find accommodation for the people that are moving to the region.

"Should Australia go into a recession, we would be looking at picking up skilled resources from other areas, however, we need to ensure that we have enough affordable housing to provide them with," she said.

"Hopefully, the new homeowner grants and the stamp duty reduction offered by the federal and state governments will help."

Pearse described the looming recession as "something we have never seen before", and as a result said it was "difficult to predict" how Mackay's regional economy would react.

"We have very low unemployment and interest rates are on the decline, so overall, I am confident that as long as the coal mining industry continues to grow and prosper, our chances of surviving a recession are good," she said.

Mark McGrath, Urban Development Institute of Australia Mackay-Whitsunday president, said that "a lot of confidence has been shown in the Mackay market already".

"It's only a matter of time before bureaucrats, the media and investors take their focus off southeast Queensland, and start looking at Mackay for lucrative investment and lifestyle opportunities," he said.

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