At the seventh annual Combined Government & Business Forum at Maroochy RSL today, government and business leaders explored managing regional growth covering areas such as housing availability, affordability and liveability and attracting funding and investment in major infrastructure such as transport, sports, entertainment, tourism and hotels in the lead up to the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The invitation-only event — which is hosted annually by the Sunshine Coast Business Council (SCBC) — was attended by around 70 leaders, including federal and state members, regional councillors and representatives from some of the most influential businesses and largest employers in the region.

Sunshine Coast Business Council Chair Sandy Zubrinich said the forum was of particular importance this year with recent statistics revealing 1 in 20 people from Sydney and Melbourne are ‘definitely’ or ‘probably’ looking to move interstate in the next five years, with almost two thirds of those keen to make Queensland their new home[1].

“Research commissioned by the Property Council of Australia has revealed 220,000 people – a population the size of Townsville and Gladstone combined – are seeking to leave the southern states and head north to Queensland in coming years,” Ms Zubrinich said.

“Of these 37% said they will be looking to move to Sunshine Coast which, according to the Real Estate Institute of Queensland, already has a vacancy rate of less than 1 per cent. With housing and rental markets already under significant pressure, the forum will provide an opportunity to debate some of these issues, particularly as we head towards the 2032 Games which we know will place even more demands on our region.”

Property Council of Australia (PCA) Qld Deputy Executive Director Jess Caire, presented findings from the PCA’s ‘A Home for Every Queenslander’ report, which was intended to be the beginning of the conversation – an open invitation for government, industry and the community to work together to ensure appropriate and affordable housing options are available for all current and future Queenslanders.

“This research was the Property Council’s housing position paper that led the Queensland Government to convene the housing summit on 20 October, which reinforced the need for a collaborative effort to ensure every Queenslander has a safe, affordable fit-for purpose home,” Ms Caire said.

“While the summit has already led to a series of positive announcements, including an expanded Housing Investment Fund and reduction in red tape to respond to accommodation issues during disaster, A Home for Every Queenslander also contains a range of technical solutions that can be undertaken by the State Government to unlock additional land supply and take the pressure off the entire housing spectrum.

“The Sunshine Coast’s rapid population growth and the pressure this is creating is no secret, but this growth also presents a unique opportunity for the region. To capitalise on this opportunity, it is critical that the planning framework allows for this population growth to ensure the region is enabled to grow sustainably.

“While industry stands ready to create the homes South East Queensland needs, it can’t do it alone – it is a collaborative effort between, government, industry and the community.”

This year’s theme for the forum was ‘Connecting the Dots’, to remind local business and political leaders of the continued need to work together to attract the funding and investment required to get the regional infrastructure in place to manage growth going forward.

“To ensure our citizens, visitors and athletes all have a great time on the Sunshine Coast in the lead up to and during the Olympics we need to maximise the time we have to get the infrastructure and facilities in place and ready to go. This is just one opportunity to remind ourselves we are a team and we need to present as a strong team,” Ms Zubrinich said.

“Our annual Combined Government and Business Forum is always very well attended and we once again enjoyed robust discussion in the spirit intended.”

“The SCBC will present the key discussion points from the forum, for further discussion and agreement by its members at the annual strategy directions workshop to be held in late January. This will then form the Business Council’s advocacy agenda for 2023.”

The forum included presentations by Ted O’Brien MP, Deputy Executive Director Qld Property Council of Australia Jess Caire, CEO Project Urban and UDIA representative Andrew Stevens, Sunshine Coast Business Council Chair Sandy Zubrinich and Treasurer Matt Byrne and Urbis Director Paul Riga, and a close by Regional Development Australia Sunshine Coast Chair Carol Cashman.

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