Construction slowdown… Music cards oust CDs… Power cost surge… We’re heading north

Engineers and construction growth to slow

Australia’s leading construction companies are predicting that growth in building activity in the engineering and non-residential sectors will moderate over the next two years, according to the “Construction Outlook” survey jointly conducted by the Australian Constructors Association and The Australian Industry Group (AI Group)

Work levels, however, are expected to remain solid. The study forecasts the value of engineering and commercial construction work in Australia will rise by 8.7% in 2007 and 6.8% in 2008. This compares with growth of 12.4% in 2006.

The value of domestic private sector construction is predicted to rise to about $72 billion in 2008, which would be more than double the level recorded in 2003.

Engineering construction turnover is expected to increase 12.2% in 2007 and 9.4% in 2008 to around $44.3 billion. AI Group CEO Heather Ridout said some sectors are expected to remain strong despite the likely moderation of overall growth.


Plastic download cards replace CDs

Improved broadband speeds and the likes of iTunes have conspired to make CDs increasingly redundant. The problem is, people often still like to get something tangible when they make a purchase.

Springwise reports US company DiscRevolt is looking to cash in on the trend by combining its music website with printed “download” cards. The plastic cards are printed with the band’s cool artwork in the same way as a CD cover, giving them intrinsic value to music fans.

But their real value lies in the code printed on them that gives the buyer access to download the band’s song or album from the DiscRevolt website.

DiscRevolt provides the cards to bands, which can then sell them at live shows instead of the conventional CD. They provide the band with a more effective marketing tool than just directing fans to their website, and gives fans a valued, often limited edition, keepsake.


The high price of electricity

The drought and maintenance outages are driving up the price of electricity, with monthly average spot prices tripling on average. The Energy Users Association (EUA) has begun lobbying the Federal Government over the high price of electricity.

EUA executive director, Roman Domanski, says the situation is threatening the viability of some of his members. The EUA has also contacted the Reserve Bank of Australia, saying that the increases will raise the CPI by up to 1.5%.


Heading north

The flow of people moving north to the Sunshine state hasn’t stopped, with about 1500 people migrating to Queensland from other states each week.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics forecasts that by 2031, Queensland will surpass Victoria as the nation’s second-biggest state by population. Queensland’s population is expected to grow from 4 million to 6.5 million in 2031, and 8.5 million in 2051.

New residents contributed $3.7 billion in payroll and property taxes to the state budget in 2005-06.

Infrastructure bottlenecks have raised questions about the Queensland Government’s ability to handle fast population growth. In Queensland, they call southerners Mexicans, and many of the migrants from the south are the disenfranchised. The state would prefer white-collar workers.

Premier Peter Beattie recently said: “If you’ve got skills, if you’ve got investment come. But if you haven’t got skills, then it’s probably not a good time to come.”


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