Rowland Corporate Affairs Webinar – “Changing economic tides: What’s next for Brisbane — ripple or tsunami?”

With talks of a global recession, and the world stage looking more and more unpredictable — including China-Taiwan tensions, the war in Ukraine and North Korea’s missile testing — it would be remiss to ignore the potentially dark cloud hanging over Australia’s economic outlook. The world is learning to live post-pandemic, climate change is a significant global challenge and we’ve entered an era of environmental and social activism and societal change.

In Rowland’s final Corporate Affairs Webinar of 2022, we asked our expert panel to unpack and explore the potential impacts Australia — the so-called Lucky Country — and Brisbane could see in the short to long-term future, as we look to seize the opportunity that is the Brisbane 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Our panellists discussed these economic considerations and answered two pressing questions:

  1. How immune are we to these global impacts? In your view, what is the short-to medium-term outlook?
  2. What can we do to mitigate the potential risks, capitalise on the opportunities before us, and protect our economy and way of life?


  • Katrina King, General Manager – Capital Solutions, QIC
  • Paul Gardiner, Head of Economics, Queensland Treasury
  • Anthony Ryan, Chief Executive Officer, Brisbane Economic Development Agency
  • Alasdair Jeffrey, Managing Director, Rowland

Watch the full webinar:

Summary of key points:

Katrina King:

  • From a global perspective, we find ourselves in a period of stagflation which is not a comfortable position to be in. Inflation remains elevated across the world, at 10% in Europe and 8% in the USA. To combat this, central banks are increasing interest rates to keep inflation tamed — a recession is to be expected for global economies as we head into 2023 — Australia may be a ray of hope amongst the clouds and expected to avoid a technical recession.
  • Fortunately, the threat of recession is not enduring as deep recessions usually involve weakness in the banking sector — because of the restrictions and regulations in place, capital adequacy ratios are higher — we don’t think there is anything dreadfully mispriced.
  • Australia is seeing demand slowing, there’s no more supply shocks on the horizon and compared to our peers, Australia’s unemployment rate is low and we are continuing to see demand from China for our iron, coal and LNG.
  • Over the long run, Australia should align climate and nature with investment returns — government policy is now clearing a path and giving a forum for public/private to succeed and stakeholders will act against companies that are not showing they are committed to ESG.
  • Investment thinking is going to need to evolve to embrace these new ways of thinking of finance.

Paul Gardiner:

  • From a domestic economic perspective, Australia, and more specifically Queensland, is a robust economy and continues to grow — Queensland remains strong with unemployment rates at an all-time low and the participation rate remains high, above pre-pandemic levels.
  • Regional labour markets are performing strongly — Queensland saw great interstate movement (inwards) during the pandemic.
  • NAB business survey found Queensland to be performing the strongest in terms of business conditions in the country, and with the Brisbane 2032 Olympics and Paralympics ahead, we continue to remain hopeful.
  • There are strong opportunities for renewable energy investment with a jobs plan announced by the Government and partnership with private sectors, as well as a record amount of residential work that is expected to turn into activity over the coming years.
  • The re-opening of borders has driven a rebound in net overseas migration and there appears to be an overall positive outlook for investment in Queensland.

Anthony Ryan:

  • Narrowing down our lens to a Brisbane and South-East Queensland focus, we can be optimistically looking forward!
  • Overall, we have extraordinary opportunities and one of Brisbane’s greatest strengths as a city is our ability to collaborate and work together — looking beyond the Games and changing the narrative to think about the next 20 years, is crucial. We are the place everyone wants to come to live, and this will continue to drive Queensland’s economy.
  • Since 2003, credit card balances are at their lowest levels and Brisbane’s future remains bright. When Brisbane was announced as the next Olympic City, there was a 1500% increase on Google search for the word ‘Brisbane’ putting us on the map for the world to see.
  • The Olympic Games alone will deliver 91,600 jobs and an overall $17.6 billion economic gain from the Olympics and Paralympics.
  • Apart from the Olympics, SEQ’s population is expected to increase by 43%, coupled with infrastructure spend that will allow Brisbane and Queensland to put our best foot forward for the world to see.

Alasdair Jeffrey:

  • 2022 has been a surprisingly strong year, and although 2023 will be tougher economically, we can enter the New Year cautiously optimistic.
  • Rising interest rates and cost of living will impact consumer confidence— the key is to determine how much the economy will slow down in household spending and the December quarter retail trade figures, released late January 2023, will be a great indicator of this.
  • Already seeing that consumers are changing their spending habits — short-term, Queensland will relatively outperform and in the longer-term investments for new infrastructure and renewable energy will be a significant boost for the economy.
  • As we look to the future, our biggest opportunity is the Olympic Games and those six weeks of the Games will have a profound impact. The Games will be climate positive and cost neutral, and by the time the Games come around, SEQ will need to be world class in ESG, equity and inclusion.
  • Businesses need to start thinking now about how transparent their supply chain is, First Nations engagement, the diversity of their workforce and their environmental footprint — ESG is a critical part in how we do that.

When questioned on the primary risks that need to be managed to ensure Queensland can take advantage of the coming decade — political, economic, social, infrastructure or environmental — the panellists remained opportunistic.

The Games are exciting but only 6-weeks — SEQ must invest in the long-term benefit of the assets and secondary usage is going to be vital. Queensland will need to use the platform gained from the Olympic Games to highlight its opportunities for international students, the job market, its position as the closest port to our Asian trading partners and growing population opportunities.

It is clear that Australia, and more specifically Queensland, is set to weather the storm of global economic threats.