Cranes over the city of Cairns building the Crystalbrook Collection hotels. PICTURE: STEWART MCLEAN
Cranes over the city of Cairns building the Crystalbrook Collection hotels. PICTURE: STEWART MCLEAN

Tradie boom may not last in the north

A PREDICTED 21 per cent construction trade shortage in Cairns next year will be short-lived unless more major projects start kicking up dust.

Crystalbrook Collection's hotel triple-header is employing about 650 people - enough to meet deadlines, although CEO Mark Davie said there was room for another 100 workers on site.

"We're not easily filling them but we have enough to get us through to our targeted dates," he said.

"We will keep those 650 guys occupied through to November when we open our first hotel (Riley)

"There are 250 people on site there now, and when they are freed up in November we will use them to beef-up our other two sites (Flynn and Bailey).

"Come June next year, we expect our second hotel to be finished, so we will just have the finishing trades on the new Flynn hotel."

Crystalbrook Collection has applied for Cairns Regional Council approval to erect the Riley signage on its new $130 million redevelopment of the former Tradewinds Hotel on Abbott St. PICTURE: SUPPLIED
Crystalbrook Collection has applied for Cairns Regional Council approval to erect the Riley signage on its new $130 million redevelopment of the former Tradewinds Hotel on Abbott St. PICTURE: SUPPLIED

Latest Australian Bureau of Statistics figures reveal the construction industry makes up 8.2 per cent of total jobs in Cairns, employing 8000 staff full-time and a further 1500 on a part-time roster.

Construction Skills Queensland director of data and evidence Robert Sobyra last week forecast a 21 per cent construction labour shortfall in Cairns in 2019.

Mr Davie said the Crystalbrook effect had a lifespan.

"Once our sites are all completed in the third quarter of next year, I imagine the situation will be reversed, unfortunately," he said.

"Hopefully some of these other projects that are being talked about will start to happen, like Nova and maybe even the global tourism hub."

Crystalbrook's 110-apartment development Bailey is scheduled to open in March.

"Unlike some of these other projects, we aren't in a position where we really need to do pre-sales," Mr Davie said.

"So we will release those units closer to the date of completion."