Hi-viz? High rents? It's all too familiar to man from Perth

"I LIKE Gladstone," I said to somebody recently who asked me for my impressions of Gladstone. "It's like a mini-Perth".

Yes indeed. Just in case you weren't aware from my editorials in the past months casually mentioning the fact, I'm from the city that goes to bed a little bit later than everybody else.

Making my sojourn from the west to Gladstone, it has struck me just how Gladstone's issues are magnified issues experienced back in Perth.

Both, after all, are resource centres which have felt the sting of one particular sector booming to the seeming detriment of other sectors.

In Perth, the resources sector through iron ore and gas development has created runaway inflation (try buying a beer in Perth without taking out a second mortgage), massive pressures on real estate prices, and record sales for hi-viz workwear.

Back in Gladstone, we too have (or had) massive real estate issues and a hi-viz workwear renaissance caused by three multi-billion dollar projects coming to town at once.

In both cases, planning for a boom cycle hasn't exactly been the best.

In Perth there has been a lag in releasing more land for residential development, and in Gladstone there was a well-publicised lag in development leading to higher and unsustainable rents.

Thankfully the situation is now starting to ease, but with a little more forethought and planning a lot of the pain could have been avoided by encouraging land development at an earlier stage of the cycle.

Of course, that's easier said than done.

It's hard to see challenges when federal and state governments, and proponents, are talking about "enormous economic opportunities".

That's not to say LNG hasn't brought extraordinary wealth to the region. It's just that too much wealth at once creates headaches which need careful management.

Anyhow, it's not much use going over old ground and pointing fingers every which way, because what matters now is what happens next.

How does Gladstone prepare for the big wind-down?

That's the question we now have to face now, and let's hope for all our sakes a clear plan is thought of before it happens rather than smack bang in the middle of it.



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