Queensland manager of the Australian Brick and Blocklaying Training Foundation Tony Bishop has clocked up a kilometre or two in the past 15 years representing the organisation across the state.
In fact, he ‘guesstimates’ he has travelled more than a million kilometres on the road and countless more in the air visiting centres like Mount Isa, Cairns and Townsville.
He’s seen it all; the boom times, the bad times and everything in between.
He was back in Brisbane on Monday but on the road again on Tuesday visiting Hervey Bay and Bundaberg for three days after his brief pitstop at home base.
“I suppose I’m away from home 20 to 30 weeks every year,” Mr Bishop said.
Mr Bishop reckons Queensland is in the midst of a ‘three-speed economy’ in terms of work for the trowel men and women he represents.
“The south-east corner is humming along with plenty of apartments being built and the upcoming Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast providing work,” he said.
“But Central Queensland is really quiet. Brickies are getting some work in the housing sector but that’s due mainly to the fact that so many people in the industry have left in the wake of the collapse of the coal mining industry in the Bowen Basin.
“Far North Queensland is showing some green shoots in Cairns, with a big increase in tourists visiting the city.”
Mr Bishop has read, like many other people in the industry, that there is a looming oversupply of apartments in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney.
“I drove around Brisbane on Monday and there are cranes on building sites all over the place,” he said.
“I can only comment on what I see, not what I read.”
One area he has concerns about is the emergence of alternate building materials other than bricks and blocks.
“A lot of builders are using lightweight, prefabricated materials made in Australia and overseas which go up really quickly,” he said.
“There’s a massive push in that area and I don’t really know where it is going in the longer term.”
He said that despite the use of alternate materials, there was still a good flow of apprentice brick and block-layers coming through the training system.
For more information about the foundation visit http://www.abbtf.com.au/