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Military economy benefiting Ipswich property investors

From Hotspotting's Terry Ryder

There are strong linkages between events in the local economy and outcomes in real estate markets.

If a city’s economy is growing and creating jobs, real estate markets will be busy.

Proximity to employment nodes is an important marker to look for, remembering that most of the jobs are in the suburbs, not in the CBDs.

At Hotspotting we’re scouring information sources every day looking for events that indicate buoyancy (or otherwise) in local economies.

If a major new infrastructure project is planned, we want to know about it. If a business is expanding, creating hundreds of extra jobs, that’s worth adding to our database of knowledge. If a company is relocating its business because of a particular dynamic in the new location, that creates a blip on our radar screen.

Here are some examples of what I mean:


Elon Musk’s Tesla has set up the group’s first Australian battery and electric cars service centre at the Tonsley innovation precinct in Adelaide.

Heath Walker, senior manager, marketing and communications at Tesla, says: “The facility will help service our growing footprint in the state, including the Hornsdale battery system and other Powerwall systems we have there, including one recently installed at the TAFE facility at Tonsley.”

The Federal and State Governments last month announced they will invest in South Australia’s second large-scale Tesla “big battery’’. The 52MWh battery will be connected to the existing Lake Bonney Wind Farm near Millicent in the state’s south-east.

Tesla installed Australia’s first big battery - and currently the world’s largest at 100MWh - at Jamestown, next to the Hornsdale wind farm run by French company Neoen.

In July, Tesla installed residential-scale batteries at 100 Housing SA homes, equipped with solar panels as part of the first phase of a State Government-backed 250 MW virtual power plant. A further 1000 public housing properties will receive the same equipment in the second phase.

Why do we care? Because the South Australian economy is on a growth path and a significant part of the emerging growth is the state’s status as the national leader on alternative energy and Adelaide’s growing reputation as the nation’s leading city for high-tech innovation.

The Tonsley precinct, which has emerged from the ashes of a former Mitsubishi car plant, is a thriving innovation, health and education centre in the Marion LGA, which we rate highly as an emerging hotspot.


Insurance company Youi is currently seeking to recruit 120 people for its headquarters on the Sunshine Coast.

When the $73 million building at Sippy Downs first opened in November 2017, it employed 1,000 people and the company's stated vision was to eventually grow this to 3,000.

Youi’s decision to locate its national HQ on the Sunshine Coast is indicative of the evolution of this location from tourist resort to regional city.

A lot is changing in the Sunshine Coast economy, much of it inspired by major spending on infrastructure and new business ventures.

The new medical precinct, based around the $2 billion Sunshine Coast University Hospital, has been a game-changer. Billions more are being spent on the local airport, key sections of the motorway, the new Maroochydore CBD and many other projects.

The total list of Sunshine Coast projects is worth over $20 billion and it’s transforming the local economy - and with it the local property market.


Any location with a strong military economy has an advantage. Cities with a RAAF Base and/or Army base have a built-in generator of economic activity and jobs, particularly given the current national trend of expansion.

Examples include Newcastle, northern Adelaide, Wagga Wagga and Ipswich in the far south-west of Brisbane.

Ipswich has the Amberley RAAF Base on its doorstep and has a growing number of major businesses servicing the military.

It was announced recently that TAE Aerospace will develop a Turbine Engine Maintenance Facility (TEMF) in the Ipswich suburb of Bundamba to support Australia’s fifth-generation F-35 Joint Strike fighter jets.

The addition of the F135 engine MRO&U activities will add 15 aerospace technician jobs to its workforce and up to 85 additional jobs as part of the future F-35 Global Support Solution.

Not far away in Wacol, Rheinmetall is building its $170 million Military Vehicle Centre of Excellence to build vehicles for the Australian Army. Watpac has been appointed managing contractor to deliver the facility, which is expected to support 300 jobs, with completion expected in 2020.

The facility will be Rheinmetall's largest presence outside of Germany and will manage the delivery of the initial 211 Boxer combat reconnaissance vehicles under Land 400 Phase 2, and accommodate Rheinmetall's other defence projects.

Also in Wacol, Volvo Group Australia recently opened its new national headquarters at the Metroplex Westgate business park, close to the company’s existing assembly plant.

Around 300 jobs were created during construction of the new headquarters and around 195 people will now work there, along with 530 at the nearby factory.

For these and many other reasons, I’m bullish about the prospects for real estate growth in Ipswich, which has many affordable suburbs and strong infrastructure, as well as many big jobs nodes. Businesses base themselves there because the land is cheap and the transport links are good.

Terry Ryder is the founder of

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