Grey nomads could be harnessed to help fill tens of thousands of jobs going begging across regional Queensland, with the state Treasurer urging the Commonwealth to examine tax laws to allow them to work without damaging their pension and superannuation payments.

In this week's Cabinet field trip to Outback Queensland, the State Government has been lobbied to help towns deal with a major worker shortage that's seeing businesses unable to open normal hours because there are no staff.

It is estimated more than 35,000 jobs are currently unfilled across regional Queensland, with the highest number of job vacancies since the global financial crisis thanks to skills and labour shortages.

Longreach Mayor Tony Rayner, who was at a civic reception when Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk encouraged locals to take their ideas to her minister, said attracting skilled labour was an issue for all of regional Queensland.

But Cr Rayner said he wanted the State and Federal governments to explore how a place like Longreach could potentially use the 50,000 grey nomads streaming through the town each year.

"Collectively, we have to work together to resolve that and that might be a case of not only looking at some of the schemes like the Pacific Island labour strategy scheme but looking at the grey nomads that are retired professionals - how many of those are interested in part-time, casual work and can we have those fill the gap," Cr Rayner told The Courier-Mail.

 

State Cabinet meets in Longreach yesterday. Picture: Darren England/AAP
State Cabinet meets in Longreach yesterday. Picture: Darren England/AAP

 

How that might impact a person's superannuation and other finances should be investigated, he said.

"It is both a state and federal government responsibility but collectively, with local government, we need to work together to resolve an issue that's impacting on all three tiers of government," he said.

"And it's a good problem to have: Too many jobs, not enough people.

"Much better than the converse."

Ms Palaszczuk told a civic reception she understood the workforce problems and her Cabinet would sit down to work on solutions, including how to attract young people out west and give them a reason to stay.

Treasurer Cameron Dick said the Queensland Government was investing on skilling people up through TAFE and on-the-job training but was happy to work with the Commonwealth on other ideas.

Asked about the idea of harnessing retired visitors, Mr Dick agreed taxation issues would likely need to be looked at.

"It probably comes down to that point you make about taxation and super, to ensure that people who are willing to work are not penalised through the taxation system to allow them to do that work, so that's a proposal the Federal Government should be looking at," he said.

"If we've got grey nomads willing to stay in a community for an extended period of time, to be part of that workforce then I think we should be encouraging that through the taxation system."

The Treasurer said there was "a whole range of mechanisms that we should be looking at as a nation to try and support ensuring there's a skilled workforce in those communities that need it".

 

 

 

Originally published as Grey nomads the key to filling 35,000-worker shortage



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