A NEW inquiry will give Central Queensland's agricultural sector a say on the potential for expanding the state's food production and processing sector while creating new jobs according to acting Premier Curtis Pitt.
"As Treasurer I have announced an inquiry into the state's manufacturing sector by the Queensland Productivity Commission,” Mr Pitt said today, ahead of his visit to the Gracemere Saleyards tonight.
"The inquiry will look at ways to build on Queensland's traditional manufacturing base, including our agricultural sector.
"The inquiry is expected to be completed by August next year.
"It will focus on opportunities to maximise advantages, address weaknesses and take advantage of emerging domestic and international opportunities, including a focus on employment and exports.”
Mr Pitt said the QPC inquiry reflected the Palaszczuk Government's long-term policy approach.
"Our economic plan is about the future economic development of Queensland - not just for the next three years but for the next three decades,” he said.
"There is a lot of talk about the 'new economy' and I know that some workers have concerns about what that means for the so called 'old economy'.
"Right now they might think the world is moving on without them. But to them I say that the Palaszczuk Government understands their concerns.
"That is why we are focussing our efforts to create new jobs on our traditional industry sectors, not just those sectors that have emerged from the digital age.
"Agriculture and food production are some of our traditional strengths and the QPC inquiry will help us identify and understand the opportunities that may exist that are so far untapped,” he said.
Mr Pitt said food manufacturing was one sector where new opportunities were likely to open up to meet the rising demands from the growing middle classes in Asian markets.
"As a nation and as a state we are well positioned to take advantage of demands for new products,” he said.
"Asian customers already have a taste for our unique, clean, and safe food products including beef and other products from Central Queensland producers.
"The rising middle classes in Asia are looking for products that are different to ones they can obtain in their own countries but which are also reliable and affordable.
"When it comes to food manufacturing someone in the region might have bright ideas for new products or processes that we haven't even considered yet, but which may meet with strong demand from Asian and other export markets.
"The Productivity Commission's inquiry will help identify possibilities for tapping ideas that could lead to new food-manufacturing products and industries with new jobs based on new export and domestic markets.”
Manufacturing was estimated to have contributed $20.3 billion to the Queensland economy in 2014-15 and accounted for $15.9 billion in international exports.
It was also a significant contributor to employment, as well as regional and economic growth and directly employed around 170,000 people in Queensland in the December quarter 2015.
Mr Pitt said the inquiry would complement work being conducted by the Department of State Development on an Advanced Manufacturing 10-year Roadmap and Action Plan.
Earlier today Mr Pitt visited the Port of Gladstone to inspect the site of planned expansion projects and to meet Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and Australian South Sea Islander trainees engaged under the Gladstone Ports Corporation's reconciliation action plan.