Economy ‘cushioned' by Qld

THE Northern Rivers may be god's own country, but it's theregion's proximity to the south-east corner of Queensland that protected it from the worst of the ravages of the global financial crisis, a report by economic think-tank National Economics found.

The report, State of the Regions, which was commissioned by the Australian Local Government Association, examined a wide range of indicators, including population, housing, employment, income and household savings.

National Economics deputy director Ian Manning said one of the major changes compared with previous years was the fall in the number of people in the Richmond/Tweed area on welfare benefits.

This financial year the Federal Government has supplemented incomes to the tune of $6202 per person, down from $7067 last financial year and $6557 in 2004/05.

“Richmond-Tweed was following right behind Mid-North Coast in the highest percentage (on welfare) in the whole Commonwealth,” he said.

“It is now dropped way from that. It's much less dependent on social security than it was eight years ago.”

Mr Manning said this was due to an increase in the numbers of hours people worked.

“Even if the GFC caused a bit of a bump, there are a lot more jobs around in the area than there used to be,” he said.

Mr Manning said that full-time employment across the region – measured by using Centrelink and Tax Office data – had fallen as the financial crisis unravelled, but was now tracking up.

“Nationally it was a little bit better, but the long-run trend for Richmond/Tweed has gone from being a somewhat disadvantage region to being less so, and that's due to proximity to Brisbane and the Gold Coast,” he said.

While the region's economic base remained a mixture of retirement and agriculture, it was riding the coat-tails of the Gold Coast with more knowledge-based jobs.

“The Gold Coast has transitioned from a mainly retirement area with a bit of tourism to a much more knowledge-based economy and that is flowing on into Richmond-Tweed,” Mr Manning said.

The annual report divides the country into 65 regions and allocates these regions into region types or zones, analyses how regions are performing and then analyses the likely consequences of current circumstances on the different types of zones.

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