A conjoint professor from the University of Newcastle has warned that Australia was on the brink of recession and now was the wrong time for Lake Macquarie City Council to embark on a commercial development in Toronto.
Howard Dick, a conjoint professor from the university's faculty of business and law, addressed the public forum at council with his warning on Monday night.
Mr Dick, a member of the Toronto Foreshore Protection Group, mounted a macro-economic case against council continuing to pursue its proposed development in Bath Street.
Council is exploring the possibility of developing a residential, tourism and commercial venture which it said would be a long-term source of income for the city.
Council has set aside $25 million over four years to build it.
But Mr Dick said now was not the time to speculate.
"My professional judgement is it is very likely we will go into a recession," Mr Dick said.
"The Australian economy used to have at least one recession in every decade, yet as of 2019 we have enjoyed over 25 years of unbroken prosperity - despite the GFC of around 2008.
"Such a long boom is unprecedented since the gold rushes of the late 19th century. But every long boom comes to an unhappy end because of speculation, overpriced assets and complacency."
The writing was on the wall, Mr Dick said.
"In mid-2019 the Australian economy is slowing. We are already in per capita recession and likely to be in GDP recession by early 2020. In my view, the issue is not whether there will be a recession but how deep it will be and how long it will last."
Mr Dick said the slowdown of the Chinese economy and "possible financial implosion" would likely push the rest of the world into prolonged recession.
He said such a recession would have implications for council and the Bath Street plan.
"Now is the wrong time to be embarking upon commercial property investment," Mr Dick said.
"Apartment supply has run ahead of demand; a 30,000 cut to migration intake will not help, nor will growing fears of exposure to shoddy construction.
"Recession will knock the stuffing out of the apartment market."