JOB SEARCH: Fitzroy job hunters are languishing for an average of 47 weeks while they search for work.
JOB SEARCH: Fitzroy job hunters are languishing for an average of 47 weeks while they search for work. fizkes

CQ pollies respond to shocking Fitzroy job wait statistics

AFTER the release of damning job wait statistics for the Fitzroy region, CQ's politicians have shared their perspectives on the best way forward.

Recent data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed that despite nation-leading jobs growth, the search for a job was the longest in Queensland at 26 weeks with CQ job seekers forced to wait a painful 47 weeks to secure employment.

The Morning Bulletin reached out to all levels of government to get to the heart of the issue to determine why they thought this situation was happening and what they thought was the best strategy to turn it around.

Rockhampton Region Acting Mayor Cherie Rutherford said council understood that many people in our community were doing it tough and, while Council had a role to play, it would take all levels of Government working together to drive real change in our community.

Rockhampton Region Acting Mayor Cherie Rutherford
Rockhampton Region Acting Mayor Cherie Rutherford Allan Reinikka ROK070416amacaws8

"Partnerships such as the Works for Queensland program with the Queensland Government are a fantastic initiative,” Cr Rutherford said.

"Between 2017 to 2019, we will see $18.428 million invested to create and support more than 480 jobs in our region.

"Council is a major supporter of local businesses and, through our local preference policy, pumped $71 million into the local economy last year.”

She said while some specialised equipment for areas such as the Airport and Fitzroy River Water couldn't be purchased locally, council stayed local where they could.

"For example when it comes to road making materials, plant and equipment, and trade services, we spend locally 96% of the time,” Cr Rutherford said.

"That's $23.3m from a total of $24.3m last year.

"While Council is doing what it can, we know more needs to be done and that's why we formed Advance Rockhampton to help drive economic growth, create local jobs, attract more visitors and increase private investment.”

Rockhampton MP Barry O'Rourke referred to his Minister for Employment and Small Business Shannon Fentiman to explain what the Queensland Government's approach was to addressing CQ's unemployment issue.

Minister for Employment Shannon Fentiman.
Minister for Employment Shannon Fentiman. Chris Ison ROK201217cjobs2

Ms Fentiman said her government was committed to delivering jobs to the regions through initiatives such as the Back to Work program, Skilling Queenslanders for Work and support for small business.

"In the Fitzroy region this has meant 1,414 Central Queenslander's have been supported into jobs in partnership with 740 local businesses through our successful Back to Work Program,” she said.

"Through our Skilling Queenslanders for Work program we have also supported training and job opportunities for disengaged Queenslanders with 1,373 job seekers being supported into employment and 359 into further training in Central Queensland.”

Keppel MP Brittany Lauga said her government's $155 million election commitment to extend the Regional Back to Work Program had seen more than 13 per cent of the Back to Work Payments flow into the Fitzroy region to support the unemployed.

Keppel MP Brittany Lauga.
Keppel MP Brittany Lauga. Chris Ison ROK131117calp3

"In Central Queensland region alone, more than 850 unemployed young people have been employed through 533 employers benefiting from the Youth Boost Programme.”

Mrs Lauga said her government was committed to creating 3,200 local jobs in Central Queensland with the roll out of $788 million worth of infrastructure in the 2017-18 financial year.

This money which would assist the revitalisation of Great Keppel Island as well as provide vital roads, health and schools infrastructure.

"I know that Central Queenslanders are looking to the Palaszczuk Government to create local jobs and grow our economy which is why I work hard every day to deliver infrastructure projects like the $200 million Capricornia Correctional Centre expansion, the $14.2 million ice rehab centre and the $7.7 million North Rocky nursing home refurbishment which will create jobs, not only during construction, but also long term operational jobs,” she said.

In addition to interstate migration, Ms Lauga explained that there were a number of other factors at play affecting unemployment in the region of Fitzroy, which encompasses Gladstone, Rockhampton and Keppel.

This included the wind-down from the LNG construction boom and the impacts of the long-term drought on the beef industry.

A spokesman for Capricornia MP Michelle Landry said the current state of employment in CQ is an indictment on a "do-nothing” state government, determined not to build job-creating infrastructure in regional Queensland.

Capricornia MP Michelle Landry.
Capricornia MP Michelle Landry. Chris Ison ROK191217cpresser2

"Ms Landry has thrown her full support behind projects that would make a huge difference to the CQ job market, like Rookwood Weir and the opening of the Galilee Basin, including securing $130M for the construction of Rookwood and helping secure Rockhampton as a FIFO Hub for Adani's Carmichael mine workforce,” he said.

"Despite providing so much federal support, these have been pilloried by a Premier more concerned with keeping her job than she is with providing some to Central Queenslanders.

"The Queensland Government's own data shows 10,000 jobs were lost in the last twelve months in the Fitzroy Region, despite over 1,000 jobs being produced per day in the same period across Australia.”

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