Country and coastal towns feel the pressure as city exodus continues
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Country and coastal towns feel the pressure as city exodus continues

The Regional Australia Institute says the nation is unprepared for this shift with housing supply a key issue

By Bronwyn Allen
Tue, Feb 13, 2024 10:04amGrey Clock 3 min

More Australians are choosing a life in the regions as local employment opportunities grow and the work-from-home era enables young families to leave expensive metropolitan housing markets for a new lifestyle on the coast or in the country where homes are more affordable.

The Regional Australia Institute (RAI) estimates 3.5 million Australians would like to set up a new life in the regions but we are unprepared for this population shift. The RAI says many regional towns are already struggling to meet the needs of their growing populations, especially in terms of housing supply and essential services like childcare and education.

“A significant societal transformation is underway in Australia,” said RAI CEO Liz Ritchie. More people are choosing a life in the regions, and metropolitan to regional relocations remain almost 12 percent above the pre-COVID average. With all those additional people calling regional Australia home, we must now ensure that they are able to access the services they need to lead safe, productive, fulfilling lives and contribute to the nation’s success.”

The Federal Government’s newly released State of Australia’s Regions 2024 report reveals key insights as to how the country’s regional areas are changing. It notes significant population increases since the pandemic, especially around coastal cities, and strong economic growth. This is creating more jobs — so much so that regional areas are finding it difficult to fill vacancies.

Job advertisements in regional Australia more than doubled over the four years to October 2023 amid the best three years of agricultural, fisheries and forestry production on record. The tourism industry has also expanded, with more than 100,000 tourism-related businesses now operational across the regions. This is providing a direct economic boost to other local businesses as more visitors flood in. The report also notes that Australia’s net-zero ambitions will require 213,000 new clean energy jobs by 2033, and more of them will be in the regions than the cities.

Ms Ritchie said regional housing supply constraints are alreadyputting a handbrake on our nation’s growth and prosperity. Regional areas have as much of a supply issue as the cities, with home values soaring at a greater rate than the capitals, and rental vacancies just as low at an average of 0.8 percent, according to the latest data from Domain. The RAI says that between March 2020 and December 2023, the median value of regional dwellings grew by 54.2 percent from $392,802 to $605,780. By comparison, capital city dwelling values increased by 29.3 percent from $643,540 to $832,193.

“While it is still more affordable to buy in the regions, for now, there is no third option if locals or metro-movers are priced out of the market, and supply fails to meet demand,” Ms Ritchie said.

Last Friday, RAI co-hosted a National Regional Housing Summit in Canberra attended by 300 industry insiders and government figures including the Federal Minister for Housing. The RAI said one of the issues highlighted was the need for housing diversity, especially medium-density developments. RAI analysis reveals that apartments make up just 2-3 percent of the total housing stock in some regional markets compared to more than 42 percent in metropolitan areas.

“Our regional communities are crying out for one- and two-bedroom properties. Workers need easily accessible and affordable accommodation, older people want to leave their large properties for easier-to-maintain apartments, and a lot more people could get into the property market if there were more entry-level options on the market,” Ms Ritchie said.

In the NSW city of Dubbo, construction is underway on a 15-storey apartment block. This isn’t the sort of development you’d normally expect in an inland community, but it shows that demand for this type of housing is certainly there, she said.



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Thousands of Australian companies on the brink of going into administration as EOFY nears

Along with high inflation and weak consumer spending, there’s another key factor pushing a record number of businesses to the edge

By Bronwyn Allen
Fri, Jun 21, 2024 3 min

More than 10,000 companies are expected to have entered external administration by the end of the 2024 financial year, a level not seen for more than a decade. Data just released by the Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC) shows 1,245 companies became insolvent in May, the highest monthly number this financial year. At present, a total of 9,988 businesses have gone bust in FY24 with data from June yet to be finalised.

Deloitte Access Economics Partner David Rumbens said the surge in business insolvencies this year was a “clear sign of economic distress”.

He commented: “[ASIC] predicts that by the end of the financial year, the number of companies entering external administration will likely exceed 10,000 – a level not seen since 2012-13, in the aftermath of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC).”

Mr Rumbens said the elements contributing to this year’s surge in insolvencies include high inflation and interest rates, weak consumer spending, and the commencement of more proactive tax debt collection activities by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).

“One of the key factors contributing to this surge in insolvencies is the [ATO] pursuing debts that were previously put on hold during the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.

Mr Rumbens cited ATO figures showing collectable debt rose 89 percent in the four years to June 2023. This has particularly impacted small businesses, which account for approximately 65 percent of the total debt owed at about $33 billion. “But more strictly enforced debt collection is coming at a time of tough economic conditions. High interest rates and cost-of-living pressures have weakened consumer spending, particularly in more discretionary components of spending.”

The construction sector has seen the highest number of insolvencies by far in FY24, mirroring the trend of FY23. Of the 9,988 insolvencies to date, 2,711 of them are in the building sector, which faces several challenges. These include a substantial lift in the cost of construction materials that is well above inflation and has made many fixed-price contracts signed within the past few years unprofitable. There is also a significant labour shortage that is delaying new home completions and new project starts, and also adding higher costs to projects.

“The construction sector has been hit particularly hard, with construction firms leading industry insolvencies in every quarter since mid-2021,” Mr Rumbens said. “They have accounted for approximately 25 percent of all insolvencies during this period. The residential construction sector is already facing a backlog of projects to complete as a result of skills and material shortages in recent years, and increased insolvencies in the sector may only exacerbate the problem of housing shortages.”

The ASIC data shows the next biggest industry affected is ‘other services’, which includes a broad range of personal care services such as hair, beauty, dietary, and death care services. The sector has seen 939 insolvencies in FY24. Retail trade is next with 687 insolvencies, followed by professional, scientific and technical services with 585 insolvencies.

“The food & accommodation sector has also experienced a wave of insolvencies. High input costs, worker shortages, and weak consumer sentiment have put pressure on businesses. Specifically, in March, cafés, restaurants, and takeaway businesses accounted for 5.5 percent of total business insolvencies, the highest proportion in the last three years.”

Mr Rumbens pointed out that while the number of insolvencies was high, it represents a lower share of the business sector at 0.33 percent than it did in FY13 when it was 0.53 percent. “This reflects the increase of registered companies in Australia, which has risen from just over two million to 3.3 million since 2012-13. Even so, the continued lift in insolvencies since 2021 highlights the difficult conditions many businesses face at present.”

 

 

MOST POPULAR
11 ACRES ROAD, KELLYVILLE, NSW

This stylish family home combines a classic palette and finishes with a flexible floorplan

35 North Street Windsor

Just 55 minutes from Sydney, make this your creative getaway located in the majestic Hawkesbury region.

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