Cowboys boss’s parting shot at Premier
ONE of Queensland's most prolific private developers has pilloried the performance of the State Labor Government, saying tax hikes, red tape and reticent attitude towards resources were hampering an economic recovery in the regions.
As State Parliament last night wrapped up its first sitting in the regions for eight years, outgoing North Queensland Cowboys chairman Laurence Lancini said Townsville and its surrounds needed much more than a football stadium.
"The stadium is a wonderful achievement for Townsville and north Queensland, and there is no doubt it will be a stimulus for the city," he told The Courier-Mail.
"But it is not going to fix the city alone.
"More needs to happen, and between state and local government they need to do more."
A property industry veteran who has completed retail, industrial and residential developments in Townsville, Brisbane, Cairns, Mackay and central Queensland, Mr Lancini said he had never seen the garrison city's economy as bad as it is right now in his 38-year career.
"I have never seen Townsville in as a poor economic state as we are in now," he said.
"I love Townsville and there is a lot of opportunity, but we need state and local government to step up."
Mr Lancini said the Palaszczuk Government's tax increases had hurt mum-and-dad operations trying to stay afloat across the state.
"Our industry, the property industry, is the biggest employment in Queensland," he said.
"And if you look at property taxes the increases have been enormous and they have chased the investors away.
"They have been passed on to mum-and-dad tenants and the operators.
"In Townsville in particular we went through the floods so mum and dad operations are struggling."
Mr Lancini said the cost of these tax hikes was being compounded by the time it takes to get projects approved.
"We saw when the LNP had that one term in state government red tape started to get lifted, and I am not being political here," he said.
"But the only way this state is going to go ahead is if they need to open up the gates and encourage development.
"I have been in this industry for a long time, and I have never ever seen red tape like we have got now."
He described the time it took to approve Adani's Carmichael coalmine and the post-federal election rush to tick it off as "farcical".
"I think it is a crying shame where Queensland is at," he said.
"We are such a resource-rich state, and here we are with probably the worst economic record in the country."
Mr Lancini said the Belcarra report into local government corruption had spooked councils out of making decisions, and state government needed to find a solution.
"All local government is shit scared to make a decision because they don't want to be seen supporting developers," he said.
Mr Lancini said this had been compounded by the Labor administration who had gone outside the scope of the report to introduce a developer donation ban a state level.
He said while the Government might have limited funds to stimulate activity, it could incentive development through better policies.
"There is no doubt that confidence is down and that's one of the big concerns," Mr Lancini said.
"When people have confidence they will commit to doing something, and the problem at the moment is there is no confidence, and that is not helped by our current Government with property taxes and all the other issues."