Is the Australian boom coming to an end?

Business is slowing – slightly – to a level western countries can only dream of

Fri, Aug 22, 2014, 01:10

Australia’s house prices are among the highest in the world and are set to keep rising, albeit at a slower rate.

On average, prices rose 10 per cent in the year to June 30th and are expected to grow a further 6-7 per cent in the coming year. The IMF has found Australia has the third highest house price-to-income ratio in the world, behind only Belgium and Canada.

House prices

The story varies from city to city though. Sydney’s median house price is about $700,000 (€490,000), Melbourne’s is $560,000 and Perth’s (capital of mining boom state Western Australia) is expected to reach $600,000 by the end of the year.

Barry Corr, chief executive of the Melbourne-based Irish- Australian Chamber of Commerce (IACC), says the days of naming your own price for work in Western Australia are over.

“Someone who has got a niche skill set will always be able to go to the highest bidder, but for more mainstream roles, the feedback that I’m getting from our members over there is that the rates are on a bit of a downward trend, the market is softening, work is harder to come by,” he tell The Irish Times.

The IACC recently gathered more than 100 industry experts from the infrastructure and development sectors for a conference. “The mood there was very positive,” Corr said. “There is a major infrastructure spending programme in operation at both state and federal level. There is a lot of work out there.”

Corr says the projects involve several billion dollars.

“It will drive demand in the engineering and finance sectors. There is significant international participation within infrastructure. Many of the shortlisted or winning bidders for the major tenders have an international component, and quite a bit of that is from Europe. There are huge opportunities for international businesses and individuals to participate,” he adds.

Billy Cantwell, publisher of the Irish Echo newspaper in Australia, says an increasing number of skilled Irish people are returning home.

“The consensus seems to be that it is getting more difficult to get ahead in Australia because of the high cost of living and the fact that Ireland seems to be recovering well. There is a sense that Australia is suffering from affluenza.”

Completely unprepared

Corr says that despite the information readily available to people online or by talking to people already in Australia, a lot of people moving Down Under from Ireland are completely unprepared.

“There are cases, especially in Western Australia, of people expecting to find work within minutes or hours, never mind days. There is work available all across Australia, but you’ve got to be capable, you’ve got to be offering skills that are in demand,” he says.

“The streets aren’t paved with gold. If you’ve got a skill that’s in demand in one area of Australia but not another, it stands to reason that you should do your research and know where you are heading. The key for anyone considering a move is to do your research.”

The same thing also applies for any Irish company looking to do business in Australia.

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