There are mixed views on how Gladstone's economy will fare when LNG construction winds down.
There are mixed views on how Gladstone's economy will fare when LNG construction winds down. Brenda Strong

What's the outlook for industry in Gladstone - boom or bust?

AS BIG industry slashes resources investment in Australia, the majority of Gladstone businesses are already pessimistic about the local economic future.

A survey for Australia's oil and gas peak body shows three out of four local companies think the current market is good for business.

But with the construction phase on Curtis Island set to wind down from 2014, only 10% anticipate conditions to improve in the coming year.

One in five expect conditions to worsen.

CQUniversity economist Professor John Rolfe predicts Gladstone will continue to grow, but at a slower rate, over the next few years.

It comes as Federal Government industry experts forecast resources investment will drop from $268 billion this year to just $70 billion in 2017.

But Prof Rolfe said Gladstone's economy would ride it out.

"There will be a bit of pain at a contractor level, it will be slower for the sub-contractors on the island - but overall Gladstone will continue to grow," he said.

"It's hard to predict what will happen after 2015, but that's when it will hurt. It depends on what the economy is doing and whether new projects will start to develop."

Gladstone Mayor Gail Sellers agreed the future was unclear - but she is remaining positive about large-scale development.

"We still have the Gladstone steel making facility, the Aldoga Power Station, Gladstone Pacific Nickel, the Arrow Energy LNG plant and $5 billion worth of housing planned for development in the next 10 years."

Cr Sellers said Gladstone's economy regularly out-performed Queensland overall, and believed that would continue.

This week, Federal Member for Flynn Ken O'Dowd told Parliament that future projects in Gladstone were at risk, and said investment must be made to break the "boom bust" cycle.

"There are $100 billion worth of projects which are now on hold. QCLNG, APLNG and GLNG are all under construction but battling budget blowouts," he said.

Prof Rolfe said a change of government policy could be a game changer.

"But I'm not convinced a change of government will change policy; a lot of things will be hard to change," he said.

The AMWU is calling to have open discussions with LNG companies about rising production costs and how it will impact workers.

Several major industry contractors have already slashed profit forecasts for this year, including Curtis Island contractor WorleyParsons.



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