SHOW US THE MONEY: Push for jobs plan for the region
With the Federal Budget to be handed down next week, Federal Labor's Senator Murray Watt said it must deliver a jobs plan for Bundaberg.
During his visit to the Bundaberg CQUniverisity campus yesterday, the Shadow Minister for Northern Australia, and Disaster and Emergency Management, called on Keith Pitt and the Federal Government to come up with a jobs plan for the region.
"We've been calling for months, right across the country, to see some kind of a jobs plan from the Morrison Government, but day after day nothing seems to happen," he said.
"We have seen the Palaszczuk Government step up with a really clear recovery plan that involves bringing forward infrastructure, supporting small business, buying locally; all sorts of things that are going to make a real difference.
"We still really haven't seen anything at all from the Federal Government and we're now only days away from the Federal Budget."
Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt said the coronavirus pandemic had been an extremely difficult time for families, individuals and businesses alike.
With various sectors across the community impacted by COVDI-19, Mr Pitt said "the Federal Government has provided unprecedented support to millions of Australians as the country navigates its way through and out the other side of this pandemic".
Mr Watt said the region's unemployment rate had increased since COVID-19 hit.
"Instead all we've seen to date from the Morrison Government is continued cuts," he said.
"Just in the last week we've seen cuts to JobKeeper, the Coronavirus Supplement, which are going to effect about 9000 business across this electorate and the Wide Bay electorate.
"Those cuts to the JobKeeper and Coronavirus Supplement are going to take money out of the pockets of about 70,000 local workers, job seekers, students, apprentices, parents and widows."
He said federal Labor believed there was a range of areas throughout the region to invest including social housing.
"There's still a big shortfall in the short social housing that's available for people here in the Wide Bay region," he said.
"Providing more social housing is obviously good for people to give them a roof over their heads, but it would also create thousands of jobs for tradies right across this region and right across the country.
"It's something that can be done quickly, get that money rolling through, get those projects happening quickly and get people working as well."
He also hoped to see investments in the skills and aged care sectors in the upcoming budget.
"Just in this electorate and the neighbouring one, Wide Bay, there's been about 1400 fewer apprentices or trainees compared to what was in place when the Abbott Government was first elected in 2013."
CQUniversity's Associate Vice-President for the Gladstone and Wide Bay Burnett regions Luke Sinclair said they strongly supported any investment in regional Australia in terms of skills training and looked forward to government contributing more in that space.
"We're looking at a range of projects, particularly across Queensland, specifically in Central Queensland we've got a proposal on the table in terms of the Central Queensland Centre of Excellence for Tafe," he said.
"Additionally, we're also looking at investment for heavy automotive in Mackay to really respond to the needs that are happening in industry at the moment, as well as what's happening in the community there.
"To really skill and train the future workforce and upskill and re-skill current workforce as well."
Mr Pitt said just yesterday the Prime Minister announced a $1.5 billion fund to back local manufacturers which means more jobs and more Australian-made products on our shelves.
"The JobTrainer Program will see an extra $201 million injected into Queensland's vocational education and training sector so school leavers and job seekers will benefit from increased access to free or low-fee skills training."
Mr Pitt said the Hinkler Regional Deal was a $173 million investment in the region by the Federal Government and local government, and it means jobs.
"Jobs at the Port of Bundaberg once the multi-use conveyor is constructed, care and support for palliative care patients in Hervey Bay, safer roads for motorists travelling between Bundaberg and Childers, as well as floodproofing Torbanlea-Pialba Road and connecting Urraween Road through to Boundary Road," he said.
"These projects all mean local jobs.
"Senator Watt would be better off spending his time telling his Labor colleagues in the State Government to sign up to the Hinkler Regional Deal and commit funding to the roads projects already 80 per cent funded under the deal by the Federal Government."
Labor candidate for Bundaberg Tom Smith also attended the visit to the campus with Mr Watt yesterday and said as a local schoolteacher, he was excited by the level of investment in education CQU was putting into the Bundaberg campus.
"Education across all industries is vital for skills development in regional cities such as Bundaberg, and our local CQU campus is future proofing our region against skill shortages," he said.
"Because of the strong health response to COVID-19, the Palaszczuk Government is delivering a strong economic recovery plan that will allow our Bundy CQU students to put their skills to work right here in our region."