Queensland woos investors

PUBLISHED : Friday, 26 January, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 26 January, 1996, 12:00am

AUSTRALIA'S fastest-growing and second-largest state, Queensland, is wooing Hong Kong investors and migrants with a combination of low tax and inflation, rapid development and year-round sunshine.

Queensland offers a fine opportunity to share in the potential of Australia's most dynamic state, said Simon Lee, director of the state's Hong Kong office.

'The key is that we have so much to offer Asian business,' he said.

With the opening of a new international terminal a few months ago, Brisbane Airport is tipped to overtake Melbourne as Australia's second-busiest international gateway.

'It is three times the size of Australia's busiest airport at Sydney and has been designed to readily expand to cater for Brisbane's anticipated growth,' said general manager Phil Walker.

'By developing an extensive network of non-stop services to Asia, the airport is positioned to become a significant link between Australian and Asian trading communities,' he said.

Opportunities abound around the airport, said Mr Lee. Investors are being sought for an airport hotel, business park, an industrial estate focusing on the hi-tech and aerospace industries, numerous retail developments and warehousing facilities.

Also, just completed is the A$170 million, (about HK$967 million) 9,000-seat Brisbane Convention Centre, while a convention centre in Queensland's second major gateway from Asia, Cairns, will open within months.

In Cairns, investment opportunities again beckon for Hong Kong entrepreneurs who have been invited to tender to build a convention centre hotel.

There are other opportunities in tourism. Over half of all foreign visitors to Australia visit Queensland - in particular the Great Barrier Reef, one of the great natural wonders of the world.

'I believe more foreign investors will build hotels and tourist attractions as the industry grows,' said Mr Lee. 'Enormous opportunities' also existed in the fast-growing fruit and seafood trade, he said.

Queensland's culinary offerings were last year showcased in a 'Taste of Sunshine' exhibition at the Hotel Furama Kempinski in Hong Kong. The two-day event realised orders worth $1.76 million together with projected sales over the following year worth $20 million. 'Feedback indicated potential to increase sales of seafood to Hong Kong by at least $7 million a year,' said Mr Lee.

He added: 'When you compare Queensland to Hong Kong, we are not ashamed of ourselves. Growth rates for the past few years has averaged five per cent and inflation is only two per cent, so our fundamentals are very strong.

'State finances have enjoyed a budget surplus for many years, so we can afford to spend every tax dollar we collect on the state, and not on interest payments.

'Taxes are low as a result; 46 per cent less than in other states. There is no financial institution tax and no petrol tax. Queensland does not owe anyone any money.

'The number of Australians migrating to Queensland from other states every year averages 50,000.

'It is interesting to note that of the 12 fastest-growing suburban areas in Australia, seven are in Queensland.'