Rockhampton mayor Margaret Strelow.
Rockhampton mayor Margaret Strelow. Allan Reinikka ROK160617astrelow

REIQ apologises for 'atrocious mistake'

THE REAL Estate Institute of Queensland (REIQ) has apologised for a mistake in the March edition of Queensland Market Monitor, which showed people leaving Rockhampton in droves.

The national report showed more than 3500 people leaving the city in the past 12 months, which mayor, Margaret Strelow called "an atrocious mistake".

"They have equated Rockhampton Regional Council area with the Fitzroy statistic division and that's a very poor use of statistics," she said.

The REIQ yesterday acknowledged the boundary descriptions were inaccurate.

A spokesman said the report should have said that "almost 7000 people moved away from the central Queensland regions of Fitzroy and Mackay in the 2016 financial year".

Cr Strelow was furious with the error. She has accepted the REIQ's apology but said the damage has been done.

The Fitzroy division includes Rockhampton, Gladstone, Central Highlands, Banana, Woorabinda and Livingstone LGAs.

Mackay division also includes Whitsunday and Isaac LGAs.

"We appreciate there has been a reduction in population, especially in mining communities, but the correct figure for Rockhampton and Livingstone combined is less than 1000," Cr Strelow said.

 

Mayor Strelow on REIQ: Mayor Strelow on REIQ
Mayor Strelow on REIQ: Mayor Strelow on REIQ

"These aren't good times for anybody, but figures that exaggerate the impact just make it worse for all of our businesses, for investors and for people thinking whether to pack up and leave or stay and wait for the good times that we believe aren't far away."

Although much of the population decrease can be attributed to the mining downturn, it isn't the sole contributor.

"There has been a reduction in employment in government departments, the meatworks isn't operating full time, Hastings isn't at full capacity," Cr Strelow said.

"Add all those together and I'm not surprised there is some reduction.

"But it is nowhere near what the REIQ had said."

Cr Strelow said Rockhampton is a prime location, particularly for families and the council had been selling the idea of affordable housing to Adani.

"We're holding out in hopes and belief that we'll get benefits from Adani and we're making a play for many other mining companies as well," she said.

"In a broader range we're looking at a range of new opportunities in tourism and ways we can sell our story into Asia, so opportunities for Chinese and Singaporean investment.

"The flip side of affordable housing is that wages are suppressed here as well and that doesn't make us a strong investment opportunity...so we've got to get more jobs, this is what our big need is, for sustainable industries."

New census figures are due out at the end of this month, which will provide a much clearer picture around specifics.