Is there now a dark side to the mining boom?

WE earned big in Mackay and other Queensland centres from business tied to the mining boom.

Cashed up, we went on a big spending spree, the shopping cart held four-wheel drives, cars, houses, big-screen televisions and bloke's toys - boats, motorbikes and jet skis.

When the boom cracked we asked the big question - was the country better off?

The Reserve Bank has answered the question with a definitive 'yes', concluding our living standards rose and that we would have been poorer without the boom.

Its study into the economic impact shows it was a boon to motor vehicle traders, with a 30% surge in sales, and in stores, where people splurged on household goods, furniture, whitegoods and televisions. Food expenditure rose 20%.

The economists' report for 2008-2014 estimates the boom, by 2013, had boosted real per capita household disposable income by 13%.

Mackay Chamber of Commerce chairman Tim Miles said the region's economy had been fortunate to do well from the infrastructure development phase of coal mining and would benefit when the mining operational/production phase kicked in.

Mr Miles said many of Mackay's mining support businesses were focussed on this next stage and set to benefit in the medium to long-term.

Mackay's motor vehicle dealerships are just some in the business sector to feel the pain induced by the harder reality of 2014, with a big drop-off in sales from 2012.

New Pioneer Motors boss Tim Callinan said the reported 30% boost in vehicle sales at the time was quite likely as sales of Holden vehicles in the region were down by around 27% from 2012, although its market share remains strong. "The company is pleased that in a time of a reduction in vehicle sales we have not laid off one employee," he said.

Richard Deguara, of Carlisle Motors, agreed 2012 had been the peak in sales.

Mr Deguara said 2008 had been a strong year and to 2012 there had been around a 10% increase in sales; but since 2013 this had declined by about 20% and continued to fall.



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