CONFIDENCE BUILDING: Deb Frecklington talks about what's needed to be done to drive Bundaberg's economy forward.
CONFIDENCE BUILDING: Deb Frecklington talks about what's needed to be done to drive Bundaberg's economy forward. Brian Cassidy

LNP: Confidence key for Bundy to tackle job woes

BUILDING business confidence is the key for Bundaberg to tackle its massive unemployment problems.

This was the message from the Queensland LNP leader Deb Frecklington today, as she discussed the region's future with the NewsMail at the Leaf and Bean cafe.

Ms Frecklington said her mission was to bridge the divide between the south-east corner and regions, such as Wide Bay.

"We don't believe that people in regional Queensland should be treated like second-class citizens,” Ms Frecklington said.

She argued there were several things that could be done to deliver the confidence businesses needed to turn Bundy's economic situation around.

These included:

  • Creating competition in the market to drive down electricity prices;
  • Upgrading the Bundaberg Hospital to a level five classification; and
  • Re-installing the $400m that had been removed from the roads budget for the Wide Bay region.

Ms Frecklington said helping address the region's chronic unemployment level all came back to businesses having the confidence to employ more people.

Currently, Wide Bay has 29 per cent youth unemployment and at the weekend it was identified as having the highest overall unemployment rate in the country at 14.9 per cent.

"If you know something (a major project) is going to happen, businesses will have confidence to set up and employ more people,” she said.

Ms Frecklington's message to concerned Bundaberg parents was to encourage their children that there was life outside of Brisbane.

"There are benefits both socially and financially if you can keep your roots in the region,” she said.

"(We need) to give them (our youth) hope there is a future here and to do that, we need to provide them with jobs.”

She encouraged job seekers to take the positions that were there, such as fruit picking.

"It may seen harsh but they are there,” Ms Frecklington said.

When asked if she supported the trial for the Cashless Welfare Card in Hinkler, Ms Frecklington said though it was a federal issue it was something she wanted to see happen.

She said last week's Budget delivered five new taxes, meanwhile the Wide Bay region has had $400m cut from its roads budget and no big spend on the hospital.

"In the last Budget (2017-18) we had $400 million ripped out of the region roads for just Wide Bay,” Ms Frecklington said.

"When we are spending money on regional infrastructure it means people are getting jobs on the work crews, on the road crews and bringing more confidence back.”

The lack of further funding for the Bundaberg Hospital in the Budget was disappointing, she said.

"It's probably just the cynic in me - but what are they doing? Are they waiting for another election for an announcement?

"Com'on the community deserves decent health care.

"That again means jobs, not just the build but once the hospital is set up the way it should be it creates a flow on.”

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