Local barber and Labor supporter, Warren Mienert.
Local barber and Labor supporter, Warren Mienert. Allan Reinikka

Tough times cutting it in Central Queensland business

THESE days it can be a long time between trims for Rockhampton barber Warren Mienert.

The Berserker barber yesterday said only about one in every four weeks was reasonably busy, and he's not optimistic things are going to improve any time soon.

Rockhampton MP Bill Byrne said the region's retailers had suffered, but they could take encouragement with positive signs that confidence was returning.

"No one would pretend that it is going to be anything than a hard road to recovery for our local economy, but there are positive signs this week that confidence is returning after three years of conflict and cuts under the LNP," Mr Byrne said.

"Rockhampton's retailers have suffered but they can take encouragement that Queensland is leading the nation on retail trade growth, according to latest ABS figures released on Wednesday."

Mr Byrne said the ABS retail trade data showed Queensland recorded the strongest real retail growth of any mainland state in the March quarter at 1.9%.

"It is a sign that Queenslanders are growing more confident about the state's economy under Labor," he said.

Mr Byrne said the Palaszczuk government's focus on job creation had played a part in boosting business confidence.

His comments come days after the Westpac Group CCIQ Pulse Survey of Business Conditions for the March 2015 quarter, which showed confidence levels had plummeted across the state.

That report said Central Queensland had the lowest confidence levels in the state.

Warren thinks "it could be another 18 months to two years before things pick up".

He said many miners in the region had lost their jobs, only to be re-employed on lower wages.

"Less money is being spent," Warren said. "Everyone I am talking to is doing it tough."

On the rise

Latest ABS figures showed increased spending in Queensland on food (up 1.8%), cafes, restaurants and takeaways (up 3.1%).

Spending on household goods was also up (2.9%), along with "other retailing" (2.4%), and clothing and footwear (4.1%).

Queensland meat exports rose 26.8% over the year to the March quarter, mostly driven by an increase in beef export prices.

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