Gavin King Fact Check

“Building approvals, tourism figures, unemployment rate, real estate market, private sector investment…all much stronger now than at any point of the past five years under the former Labor Government.” So says Member for Cairns Gavin King on his Facebook page referring to a speech he made in parliament on May 20th. But is that true? Having listened to the speech it appears that in fact Gavin King didn’t refer specifically in the speech to “the past 5 years” but rather to the period since the LNP government came to power (i.e. Mar 2012). So we’ll take a look at both;

“Any point of the past 5 years”
Building Approvals

Trend approvals in Cairns stood at 82 in Jan ’10; in Mar ’14 they are 59……FALSE
Tourism figures
Domestic tourism numbers in Sept ’09 were exactly the same as they were in Dec ’14…..HALF TRUE
International tourism numbers in Dec ’08 were 757,000; in Dec ’13 they were 684,000…..FALSE
Unemployment rate
Trend unemp in Cairns was 5.5% in Nov ’10; in Apr ’14 it is 8.1%…..FALSE
Real estate mkt
According to HTW data for Cairns house prices in Cairns now stand at about the same level they were 5 years ago; unit prices are well below their level of 5 years ago; vacant land prices are a good deal stronger……TRUE
Private sector investment

ABS CAPEX data for QLD (not available at a regional level) shows private CAPEX much higher than in the past 5 years. Certainly proposed development in Cairns would support the contention that private investment will be strong, if proposals come to fruition……TRUE

“Since Mar 2012”
Building Approvals
Trend approvals in Mar ’12 were 38; they are now 59…..TRUE
Tourism figures
Domestic tourism numbers in Mar ’12 were 1.593 million; in Dec ’13 they were 1.594 million….TRUE (just)
{Incidentally in his speech King chose to quote the year on year increase of domestic tourism to Sept ’13 as 16%; the year on year increase to Dec ’13 (data that was available at the time he made his speech) was 6%.}
International tourism numbers in Mar ’12 were 612,000; in Dec ’13 they were 684,000…..TRUE
Unemployment rate
Cairns trend unemployment in Mar ’12 stood at 8.4%, Apr ’14 was 8.1%…..TRUE
{in the speech King highlighted a 2% fall in the unemployment rate, even though this relates to the unadjusted, and hopelessly volatile, data which he well knows is virtually useless.}
Real estate mkt
According to HTW data median house prices in Cairns in Mar ’12 were about $349,000; in Mar ’14 $379,000. Unit prices and vacant land has seen similar rises…..TRUE
Private sector investment
ABS CAPEX data for QLD shows $9.646bn in Mar ’12; $9.608bn in Mar ’14 so at a state level it is down slightly. At the Cairns level it is almost impossible to say, although proposals appear positive….CAN’T SAY, BUT PROBABLY TRUE

So in conclusion, we would say that what King said in his speech was basically TRUE (although he cherry-picked a few numbers!). What he subsequently wrote on his Facebook page was largely FALSE.  Perhaps as much care drafting Facebook posts is needed as that which goes into parliamentary speeches!Hat-tip to Mark Beath at Loose Change who first alerted us to the Facebook post.
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