2011 was a year of highs and lows that will live long in the memory of many Queenslanders. It was a record breaking year for our sporting teams, with our State of Origin side recording a sixth straight series win, the Brisbane Roar soccer side breaking an Australian record for consecutive unbeaten games and the Queensland Reds rugby team victorious in the Super rugby.
Our female athletes also did us proud, with the Firebirds winning the national netball championship and Sally Pearson winning a World hurdles Championship.
While the feats of our sporting teams brought us much pride during the year, the memories of 2011 for many Queenslanders will still focus on the natural disasters that marred the start of the year, when one of the worst summer storm seasons in recent memory left many people either homeless or with significant bills to repair damaged homes.
When I think of the contrast in fortunes of Queensland residents during the course of last year, I can’t help but draw an analogy to the current economic situation.
Domestically, there is much to celebrate with our economy the envy of most nations around the world. We have a strong, well regulated banking system, low unemployment and our dollar remains at historically high levels.Yet despite all these positives, we are still suffering from low consumer confidence and have seen the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) reduce official interest rates in November and again in December largely as a result of events that are outside our control and occurring on the other side of the world.
While we continue to perform soundly domestically, the health of our economy in 2012 will largely be shaped by the ability of the European Union to resolve the sovereign debt issues of Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain.
One anticipated effect of the current international turmoil on the Australian economy is the possibility of a “credit crunch” similar to the one experienced in 2008.
As the economic situation in Europe worsens, it will be harder for Australian financial institutions that rely on international money markets to raise funds globally. This is likely to result in significantly higher interest rates on savings and investment accounts in Australia as banks scramble to make up for the shortfall from their overseas sources.
At Queenslanders we are fortunate to be approaching this period of uncertainty and increased competition with good reserves of cash and in a position to offer our members the added security that comes from the permanent deposit guarantee scheme recently confirmed by the Federal Government.
We are very confident in our range of products and services and encourage any member with a loan or savings account at another financial institution to consider switching to Queenslanders to take advantage of the savings that may be available.
As always we remain committed to helping all our members with their financial needs and my staff and I look forward to helping you achieve your goals throughout the coming year.