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Business leaders say state has more to do to attract skilled workers

Queensland’s potential to grow into a financial services powerhouse has emerged as a key focus of the state’s business elite as they move on from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Aug 18, 2022, updated Aug 18, 2022
QIC chief executive Kylie Rampa.

QIC chief executive Kylie Rampa.

A high-powered policy forum in Brisbane that attracted hundreds of people from the state’s business, academic and government sectors painted a largely positive picture of Queensland’s economic outlook despite inflation-driven uncertainty and the lingering ravages of the pandemic.

The forum, organised by public policy think tank the Queensland Futures Institute, covered a range of topics from the need for planning law reform to the state’s opportunities in renewable energy.

Queensland Investment Council chief executive Kylie Rampa said a successful transition in Queensland’s economy relied on ensuring the state had the skills take advantage of where global capital was being invested.

“We’re seeing demand from global capital increasingly in renewable energy generation and distribution, mining and rare minerals and health care,” she said.

“Queensland is probably the only state that has really sizeable potential opportunity in all of those sectors.”

Head of UQ’s Business School Brent Ritchie moderates the policy leaders forum panel (from left to right) Under Treasurer Leon Allen, Suncorp chief executive Steve Johnston, QTC chief executive Philip Noble, QIC chief executive Kylie Rampa and ATC chief executive Bernard Reilly.

However, Rampa cautioned the state needed to stay focussed on making sure the economy had the right skilled labour force to “continue to be able to attract capital to this marketplace”.

More work was needed on making sure Queensland recognised the importance of attracting high quality talent by improving and maintaining liveability as a means of attracting high quality talent from across Australia and the world.

Australian Retirement Trust chief executive Bernard Reilly agreed, saying retention of skilled financial services workers was just as important as attraction and an important focus should be creating an environment to “keep the talent here”.

Reilly, whose company is the product of February’s merger between QSuper and Sunsuper said ART now looked after the superannuation accounts of one in four Queenslanders and owned a range of global assets including substantial shares of both Heathrow and Sydney airports.

“On the day we merged we had about $230 billion of members’ money that we were taking care of. That’s put us as one of the largest in the country…and the 19th largest pension fund in the world,” he said.

“We’ve got ambitions to continue to grow our national footprint and be a fund for all Australians but we are going to be based here.”

Queensland Under Treasurer Leon Allen told the forum the creation of Australian Retirement Trust was a “great catalyst” for improving Queensland’s opportunities to attract talented financial services workers.

Queensland Treasury Corporation chief executive Philip Noble said Queensland waa coming out of the pandemic with a “strong balance sheet”.

While NSW would have $114 billion of net general government debt by 2025 and Victoria would have around $170 billion of debt, Queensland is forecast to carry just over $39 billion, he said.

“The management of the state’s balance sheet from government through Covid has been very strong compared with other states,” Noble said.

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