Economics professor warns regional Queenslanders to ‘brace for more economic uncertainty’

UNFOLDING ECONOMIC events in the United States (US) are revealing substantial instabilities in the internal financial environment which could significantly impact regional Queenslanders.

That’s according to CQUniversity associate professor in economics, finance and property, .

“The closure of the Silicon Valley Bank and the Signature Bank in the US is leading fears of an emerging financial crisis,” Assoc. Prof. Small said.

“This has been reflected in a sharp spike in the price of gold which has risen from about $2,700 for a troy ounce at the beginning of February to $2,951.10 at 21 March,” he said. 

“The future direction of interest rates is now likely to be more uncertain.”

Assoc. Prof. Small said if the international financial system did suffer significant disruption, it would likely result in major further destabilisation of the local economy, which may result in the present interest rates becoming unsustainable.

“The problem here is that Australia, like most other western countries, lacks an adequate suite of economic policies and controls to prevent lower interest rates being absorbed into further dysfunctional price growth in the property sector,” he said.

“This lack of restraint was responsible for the problematic price growth in the property sector over the last two years. Low interest rates were taken up by real estate buyers as a signal to bid the market higher despite the doubtful fundamental underlying the market.

“This has resulted in a price bubble that now affects many parts of Central Queensland.”

Assoc. Prof. Small said monetarist control of inflation using interest rates had always been a ‘debateable strategy’.

“Particularly when a significant component of the inflation originates offshore. It is usually disruptive to the local economy,” he said.

“If interest rates do fall in an effort to maintain the local economy, then that could cause further dysfunctional property price growth. 

“The solution here is to introduce measures that stimulate the local economy and wages without putting upward pressures on real estate. That cannot be affected within the narrow monetarist regime we are now operating within.”

Assoc. Prof. Small said rural and secondary industries continued to be the backbone for a robust domestic economy.

“The longer-term trend towards greater relative dependence on extractive industries in Central Queensland means that despite these industries providing substantial wage opportunities, especially during their construction stages, the longer-term trend is not so bright.”



2022 Brisbane Lord Mayor’s Business Awards finalists heralded

THIRTY-FOUR outstanding Brisbane businesses and eight business leaders have been named finalists across 11 categories in the 2022 Lord Mayor’s Business Awards (LMBA).

Brisbane Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner said the awards showcased some of the most exciting, innovative and creative businesses in Brisbane, with finalists improving lives, creating jobs and driving the city’s global reputation for innovation.

“From businesses improving lives through healthcare innovation and accessibility, to those driving growth and jobs in our arts, culture and sports economies, this year’s entrants are making a remarkable impact in our community and around the world,” Cr Schrinner said.

“The vision and leadership of this year’s finalists will help carve out a lasting legacy for our city to 2032 and beyond.” 

The 2022 awards received the highest number of nominations in its 17-year history, in a sign of post-pandemic optimism and growing confidence in the local business community, according to Cr Schrinner.

Finalists across a range of industries including sustainability, healthcare and technology are up for the awards, while Brisbane businesses with their sights on the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games are also amongst the finalists going for gold.

“Our city’s economic growth is driven by innovative businesses doing exciting things now, but with an eye to the future,” Cr Schrinner said.

“These awards recognise the city’s most exciting entrepreneurs and businesses who are creating jobs, improving lives and shaping the city’s future. Having seen the calibre of this year’s finalists, the opportunity for growth in Brisbane is limitless.”

Cr Schrinner said the 11 award categories highlighted success stories in a cross-section of industries, including health, technology, accessibility, sustainability, advanced manufacturing and arts and culture.

Stadium designers Populous, city-shaping street artists Vast Yonder and First Nations property services Multhana are some of the outstanding local businesses being recognised by the awards, with an eye on the city’s green and gold future. 

Vaxxas, the biotech company behind needleless vaccine technology, online health player Midnight Health and circular economy social enterprise Circonomy are also among the list of finalists focused on delivering a sustainable and healthy future.

Category and individual winners of the 2022 Lord Mayor’s Business Awards will be announced on October 21, 2022. 


HSBC Award for Excellence In International Business

Applied Mining Technologies.


Michael Hill International.


Urban Utilities Award for Environmental Sustainability in Business

Give Industries.

Howard Smith Wharves.

Save Our Supplies.

Winson Group.

Hutchinson Builders Award for Outstanding Social Enterprise

Australian Spatial Analytics.

Jigsaw Australia.

Multhana Property Services.

Silver Memories.

CCIQ Award for Outstanding Small Business

Audeara Limited.

dk active.

Goodwill Projects.


Accenture Australia Award for Product Innovation


Li-S Energy.

RedEye Apps.


XERO Award for Outstanding Micro Business


Styling Station Australia.

The Brand Builders.

Vast Yonder.

ANZ Award for High-Growth Business

Aginic Holdings.


Midnight Health.


ISPT Award for Investment In Brisbane

Brisbane International Cruise Terminal.

Chef Collective.


The Princess Theatre.

Australia Pacific LNG Award for Business Innovation


DoubleTake Sports.

Electric Mobility Solutions.


Port Of Brisbane Award for Young Business Person of the Year

Ash Reddy – Chess Mates.

Dr James Fielding – Audeara.

Hailey Brown – Vacayit.

Nina Nguyen – Pakko.

The Courier-Mail Award for Business Person of the Year

Elena Gosse OAM – AIS Water.

Jamie Wilson – Cryptoloc.

Jonathon Stoddart – Stoddart Group.

Simone Joyce – Paypa Plane.


Stormbirds warn of reputational damage clouding business horizons

STORMBIRDS founders and directors, Jane Hedger and Leonie Vandeven, not only understand the true value of business reputation – they are skilled and experienced at protecting it. In this succinct opinion piece, they outline the key issues all business leaders should consider when it comes to protecting your reputation.


YOUR business's reputation is arguably your most valuable and fragile asset.

While many businesses consider risk, response, and contingency plans for events outside their control, such as fire, flood, and operational disruption, most are woefully unprepared for the reputational cost of damage the company may have contributed to. Yet this is often more catastrophic.

What comes to mind when you think of Dreamworld? AstraZeneca? Rio Tinto? Each has sustained substantial reputational damage from single events that eroded confidence and trust they had built up with customers, community, and government over several decades.

They spectacularly failed to ‘read the room’ in different ways. 

They put profit before people, communicated late, poorly, or not at all, took too long to acknowledge fault, or show remorse, downplayed the impact, or did not consider their response from a stakeholder, social, economic, and political point of view.

The only thing saving large companies from ruin caused by reputational damage is their very deep pockets.  They have the financial ability to ride out reputational storms over long periods of time.  Do you?

Every business is at reputational risk

No business is immune from reputational crisis. We are all in the people business and, despite our best efforts, accidents happen, and people make mistakes. 

It can be caused by a single tweet over a customer issue, a miscommunication, accidental human error, or factors outside your control like product tampering, supply chain issues, or malicious activity. 

Responding quickly and appropriately to these situations is important to minimise reputational damage, but conversely a strong, timely and well managed response to crisis can strengthen your brand.

In a world full of risk, how can you safeguard your business from reputational crisis?

Reputation checklist

  • Build reputational damage into your business continuity and disaster planning processes.
  • Ensure you have strong communication pipelines with your staff, suppliers and customers.
  • Have a response plan for all scenarios, capable spokespeople and considered key messaging.
  • Be visible, timely, authentic, and truthful in your responses and remediation.

In 2019, PwC research identified crisis preparedness as the next big competitive advantage.

StormBirds supports you through a crisis but, importantly, prepares you for the unexpected before disaster strikes. StormBirds was created to help leaders to build business, communication, and change strategies to sustain operations and help you take advantage of the opportunities that come with crisis.

There are always clouds over the horizon. StormBirds can help safeguard your reputation by preparing your business well before those approaching storms wreak havoc.



TransitCare now backed by Orcoda specialised vehicle fleet

ORCODA LIMITED, the resources, healthcare, and transport logistics and services optimisation company, has announced that its wholly-owned subsidiary Orcoda Healthcare Logistics has signed a contract to supply specialised vehicles and drivers to long time partner and leader in community transport, TransitCare. 

Orcoda’s new contract with TransitCare is to supply a specialised fleet of vehicles and drivers to supplement TransitCare as Logan City-based service for Queensland continues to grow.

The 40 month contract, which includes two one-year option periods, is expected to generate revenue for Orcoda in the vicinity of $900,000 and will facilitate further growth in revenue as more Orcoda vehicles are added to the fleet. 

TransitCare CEO Terry O’Toole said, “We are currently bidding on some very large contracts to expand the TransitCare capability throughout Queensland. Orcoda’s state of the art transport technology platform 'OLMS' has facilitated the ability for TransitCare to grow and Orcoda will play a major role in our ongoing business through their provision of vehicles and drivers to our network and through their ongoing support of OLMS.

"I look forward to continuing to work with the Orcoda’s innovative team and professional drivers as we win further contracts and grow our service base”.

Orcoda managing director Geoff Jamieson said, “It is great to expand the working relationship with TransitCare who are a leader in their field and a great partner for Orcoda.

"Both organisations are working closely in developing the OLMS platform capability and the customer service delivery to a very high standard. We look forward to working together in growing our respective businesses."

Critical thinking as a leadership discipline

By Louise Broekman >>

HAVE YOU FELT the overwhelming sense that you (as a business leader) are operating at 100 percent of your mental capacity? 

While overcommitting and overscheduling is part of the problem for leaders, we are also faced with the 24-hour news cycle.

We have vast arrays of information coming at us at a rapid pace and as leaders we are expected to act and make informed decisions – swiftly.

The current environment has shown the need for clear leadership, quality decisions and considered action. It’s also highlighted the high price for getting it wrong.  

The tension between informed decision making and rapid response is tricky to navigate.

How are leaders supposed to filter out all the noise to focus on what’s meaningful for them?

Critical thinking has many definitions but the one that resonates with me is “careful thinking directed to a goal”.

Critical thinking enables leaders to sift through the conflicting opinions and economic indicators to stay informed, evaluate information against their goals and make quality decisions.  

While critical thinking must be applied as an individual, leaders need to invest and nurture frameworks that allow critical thinking to be shared by the collective.


There are advocates of a process-led approach to critical thinking: “observe, imagine, infer, experiment, analyse, decide”.

This is an example of systems thinking. Systems thinking is designed with a process intent. It provides a valuable, often repeatable, flow for how things work within an organisation.

Taking a process-led approach to critical thinking can actually defeat the purpose. We stop thinking and move straight into doing.

I want you to consider how you can create ‘thinking systems’ for your organisation. Thinking systems are principles-led. You identify the key principles that will underpin your thinking system and put them into practice.

An advisory board is one example of a thinking system. 

The principles that underpin the ABF101 Advisory Board Best Practice Framework include clarity of scope, independence, fit-for-purpose, structure and discipline and measurement.

These principles apply to Advisory Boards but can also be adapted to thinking systems appropriate to your organisation such as governance boards, committees, executive Meetings, project teams, etc.

Thinking systems can support critical thinking, but as a leader you still need to deal with the feeling of standing in front of a firehose flow of information.  How can you effectively filter and distil down the key information that you need to think about critically?

Know your business

Be clear on your business and strategic objectives. Carefully evaluate information through the lens of your business strategy, your internal capabilities and future goals. When you know your business, you can turn down the volume on noisy outlier information.

Know your markets

Knowing your market and customers makes it easier to ignore doomsday commentary. You are less likely to be blindsided by market disruptors, new competitors or advances in technology. Get close to your customers, be curious and never get complacent.

Know who you can trust

Commentators, media, advertisers … who can you trust? Information saturation is real, and it can stifle critical thinking and problem solving within businesses. Seek out the trusted information sources and advisors that have the current skills and knowledge in the areas that are key priorities for your business.

Invest in critical thinking

In business, there is no return without investment. Support yourself as a leader by investing in critical thinking.

Invest your time, your effort and where necessary your funds into areas that are going to support you and your organisation to not just survive but to thrive.


Louise Broekman is the founder and CEO of the Advisory Board Centre.  Advisory Board Centre is an Alumni Member of Queensland Leaders.



SpareBizSpace engineers a new kind of ‘space-age’

SPAREBIZSPACE is an organisation solving dual problems faced in an ever-increasingly mobile and transient world: how to find the right business space at the right price, and how to make money out of your under-utilised space.

In fact, founder and CEO Helen Cowley describes SpareBizSpace as “like Airbnb for business”.

“We focus on an economical growth resource for our mobile business work force by developing and connecting a shared economy, and environmentally utilising unproductive business space of others,” Ms Cowley said,

“As a consultant, coach, mentor and trainer of small and startup businesses, I could see two sides of a challenge.  

“We have an ever-growing trend globally of a mobile and transient workforce.  Currently, about 40 percent of people work from home.”


In change there is opportunity and Helen Cowley decided to extend her growing experience in finding temporary marketing, event or production spaces to focus on helping her customers navigate similar opportunities.

“I found myself assisting people to look for spaces to launch products, create food product lines and others wanting to expand into new states or regions,” Ms Cowley said. “Some of this was created from my own need to find space for everything from running an event or training or coaching.

“For example, coffee shops are not the ideal place to have private professional conversations.  It can be noisy, un-private, busy and crowded -- not overly conducive to business, especially with new clients or for confidential meetings.  However, it is convenient … and you can get coffee.  But it’s not tax deductible.

“Secondly, I was helping so many struggling businesses who had space, filled as storage or empty many days, or they leased more space than they needed ‘for growth’. So much under-utilised, wasted and under-capitalised space," she said.

“Restaurants which had commercial kitchen facilities not used on a Monday or Tuesday and struggling to make profit.  Offices only using their boardroom once a week.  Why not benefit from this spare under-utilised and under-capitalised asset space?

“I developed a better solution. SpareBizSpace is like Airbnb for business.”


SpareBizSpace can quickly help businesses find a space or list a space online. It is possible to book a space for an hour, or a day, or more.

“Save time and money committing to long term contracts, now you can be doing business in more places and more ways,” Ms Cowley said.

“There are so many innovative business activities that can use so much spare space without a long-term commitment.  Businesses can increase their profile, income and profitability and expand their business looking like a professional, not just a kitchen table startup.

“Creative and innovation thinking is now where and what type of facilities can be used,” Ms Cowley said. “Globally I am hearing of conferences being held in vacant warehouses and old manufacturing facilities and other open or vacant spaces. 

“My aim is to help businesses to expand our capability in becoming more environmentally sustainable, economical and profitable for all our small businesses.”

Helen Cowley likes the adage that "the most reliable way to predict the future is to create it".

“And new possibilities are always welcome,” she said.


SpareBizSpace is a Queensland Leaders Future Leaders member.


A vital thread in Gold Coast’s rich growth tapestry: Hickey Lawyers

AN OVERVIEW of the most significant and innovative developments that have sewn the Gold Coast’s rich tapestry over the past quarter century sees one legal consulting group’s name come through consistently: Hickey Lawyers.

Over the past 25 years, Hickey Lawyers has established a reputation as the region’s pre-eminent commercial law firm, renowned for being able to deliver proactive solutions for clients across the Gold Coast and, now, well beyond.

Led by the partners, many of whom have been with the firm for a majority of that quarter century, the Hickey team is well known for its extensive experience across the full range of property development projects ranging through master planned communities, mixed use developments, high rises, land subdivisions, hotels and shopping centres. 

“That includes negotiating and documenting complex joint venture arrangements, construction and funding agreements and off-the-plan contracts,” Hickey Lawyers managing partner, Mark Lacy said. 

While much of that work is concentrated in Queensland and New South Wales, Hickey Lawyers’ property experience spans Australia.

“We deliver high quality legal services and specialised advice to a stable of clients that include major ASX listed companies, international and national businesses,” Mr Lacy said. “Our team has a strong track record of service in the areas of business advice, hotels and tourism, planning and environment, property and development, banking and finance, mediation, dispute resolution and litigation.

“We advise across many facets of business for medium to large enterprises, from property and business advisory to business structuring and dispute resolution.”

In recent years, Hickey Lawyers has also helped clients understand and adapt to legal and technological change in their businesses – and across industry sectors.

“Looking to the future of the dynamic business world in which we practise, Hickey Lawyers embraces advances in knowledge across e-commerce and automation to provide clients with up to date, practical advice to advance the growth of their business,” Mr Lacy said.

“Nationally accredited mediators and accredited commercial litigation specialists are available to offer practical advice for mediation, dispute resolution and litigation.”

In fact, one of Hickey Lawyers’ greatest strengths is the firm’s long-standing and committed staff base.

“As a team we have been able to grow and maintain our relationships with key clients to ensure ongoing future stability,” Mr Lacy said. “In addition, we have established a strong reputation for experience and excellence in advice and service.”


Last year, Hickey Lawyers reached a milestone anniversary, celebrating 25 years of being at the centre of the growth of the Gold Coast region. Hickey Lawyers Hilton Surfers Paradise 400pxw

When now-retired founder, Tony Hickey, started the firm a quarter of a century ago, little did he know that that the name Hickey Lawyers would become synonymous with urban regeneration and development along the Gold Coast strip.

“When I started Hickey Lawyers my goal was simply to run a business that provided the best service to our clients and the best way to demonstrate that objective was to work with the clients doing the most cutting edge stuff,” Mr Hickey said.

Hickey Lawyers managing partner, Mark Lacy, who joined 19 years ago, said he was extremely proud of the role the firm has played in the growth of the Gold Coast over the past 25 years.

“The team has provided legal advice on a number of large mixed use developments over the years, some of which were at the forefront of architectural design and some of which really kick started a regeneration for that part of the city,” Mr Lacy said.

The firm’s relationship with urban regeneration is not only limited to the Gold Coast. Just over the border, Hickey Lawyers advised the Ray Group in the launch and development of Salt, a huge residential land development, which changed the face of the Tweed Coast.

Hickey teams worked with Aquis on the development of the Cairns Casino and led the planning and legal team in the development of Naisoso Island in Fiji.

“One of my personal favourites to be involved in was the development of James Street Markets in Brisbane, which was a major contributor to the regeneration of the area and in turn, the Brickworks in Southport,” Mr Lacy said.

More recently, Hickey Lawyers has worked on Sunland’s Marina Concourse near Royal Pines and the Lakes, and the Lanes in Mermaid Waters, both major contributors to the regeneration and continued growth of their respective locations.


It’s not just mixed use and urban regeneration in which Hickey Lawyers specialises.  The team has advised on a number of landmark projects over the years including the Hilton in Surfers Paradise; Aria, the Wave and the Beach Hotel (now Avani) in Broadbeach; Victoria Towers in Southport – the first vertical aged care facility on the Gold Coast – and Hickeys were the lawyers for Ridong Group, the original developers of Jewel.

“We are extremely humbled and proud that we have had the opportunity to work with some amazing developers and continue to contribute to the growth of our city,” Mr Lacy said. 

In addition to property planning and development, Hickey Lawyers has also been at the centre of some landmark litigation cases, including Weightman v Gold Coast City Council & Anor, which determined the test to be applied in deciding whether there were sufficient grounds to justify approving a development despite conflict with the planning scheme; and Liquorland (Aust) Pty Ltd v Gold Coast City Council & Anor, which considered the application of the Pioneer Principle from the decision of the High Court in Pioneer Concrete (Qld) Pty Ltd v Brisbane City Council, and the requirements for a properly made development application.

“The firm also acted for the successful parties in a number of significant cases regarding the interpretation of the Property Agents and Motor Dealers Act, one of the main pieces of legislation over the past 15 years regarding how property transactions are conducted,” Mr Lacy said.

“The cases in which we acted significantly impacted upon the interpretation of that legislation.

“The partners are extremely proud of what the firm has achieved. But mostly we’re proud of the fact that we have been able to create a fantastic work environment that still exists today,” Mr Lacy said.

“We have not only had the opportunity to work with some amazing clients, we’ve also initiated and grown the careers of the Gold Coast’s best lawyers and administration staff.”

The firm continues to work with the biggest and most innovative developments on the Gold Coast. 


About Hickey Lawyers

Founded by now-retired lawyer Tony Hickey OAM in 1993, Hickey Lawyers today is headed by seven highly experienced partners: Joe Welch, Simon Chan, Dan Marino, Scott Eustace, Damian Hodgson, Liam McLindin and managing partner Mark Lacy.

Hickey Lawyers began with a mandate to assist the most innovative and progressive property developments in the Gold Coast region and across South East Queensland – and today that fundamental continues with the firm renowned for its work in urban regeneration and dynamic new projects. Hickey Lawyers is regarded as the Gold Coast’s pre-eminent law firm in the fields of property, development, business and tourism and today acts for clients nationally and internationally.


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PO Box 2144