Mayor’s Desk: Give us back our lost jobs

I begin this column with a simple statement – We want our jobs back!

Over the past twenty years we’ve seen a slow but steady hollowing out of government departments in Rockhampton.

Traditionally, we had a strong presence of both state and Commonwealth regional offices, with senior management and a strong workforce befitting our strategic location.

But the last decade especially has seen an exodus that has left us with empty desks and empty buildings as jobs or whole departmental offices shifted to the ‘not so great’ South East Corner, disconnected from the community and industries they serve.

While we have been out talking to people about the importance of attracting jobs in regional Queensland as part of our Fair Go For All Queenslanders campaign, the conversation has often turned to the role we have historically played in the provision of government services - and how things have changed.

Many people have shared their stories about departments that were major employers, and how workers or jobs relocated to Brisbane.

To those who have already reached out and to those who can contribute to this conversation, we want to hear from you - to know what department you worked for, how many people you worked with and how many people working in that department are based in Rockhampton in 2019?

There’s no doubt that decentralisation of whole departments can be part of the solution to reduce unemployment, boost population and grow our local economy.

We have put our case forward in the past as part of a senate submission into the proposed decentralisation of Commonwealth departments into regional areas. We pitched for industries like Meat and Livestock Australia, Australian Meat Processor Corporation, and the re-establishment of a CSIRO agriculture division as agencies suited to the region.

Agencies like these would have immediate access to our industry leaders, experts, the university and other state and local government authorities.

Establishing offices for these kinds of agencies here in Rockhampton should be of mutual benefit.

But separate to this endeavour, I’m pushing to secure a commitment from both state and federal governments to give us our jobs back.

I want to draw a line in the sand - at the year 2000 - and ask both levels of government to reinstate the jobs that we had here in the year 2000. Simply give us our jobs back!

I’m asking for a commitment that government job numbers will return to those enjoyed in the year 2000 (both in number and seniority). And I’m asking for this to take place over the next three years.

We are asking for a deliberate strategy of returning government jobs to our regional community. We want our jobs back by the year 2022.

Please join me in the fight.

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