DETERMINED: Rockhampton MP Bill Byrne is working to solve unemployment in CQ.
DETERMINED: Rockhampton MP Bill Byrne is working to solve unemployment in CQ. Melanie Plane

MP Bill Byrne rubbishes LNP unemployment claims

ROCKHAMPTON MP Bill Byrne launched a passionate defence again LNP accusations he's not doing enough to fix the region's unemployment problem.

Mr Byrne downplayed the latest unemployment figures, putting them into historical context.

He said although the general unemployment in the Fitzroy region rose from 6.7% in March to 6.9% in April, it is 0.8 percentage points lower than the post-mining boom peak of 7.7% in October 2015.

He said youth unemployment Fitzroy in April was down 0.1 percentage points to 12.5% in April compared to the peak in September 2015 of 14.4%.

"I won't be lectured on employment rates by the shadow treasurer, a man who served in a LNP administration that abandoned regional Queensland, sacked 14,000 public servants, axed training programs and caused widespread despair in our region,” Mr Byrne said.

In contrast, he said the Palaszczuk Government has brought in significant capital investment.

"Hundreds of millions of dollars are confirmed for investment and I am continuing to lobby the premier and deputy premier about the economic future for our community,” Mr Byrne said.

"In the 2016-17 Queensland Budget, we announced $823.2 in infrastructure spending in the Fitzroy region, supporting 2,500 jobs.

"Since then we have announced an additional $200 million expansion of the prison - the biggest single project investment we have seen by a state government for decades.

"It will generate hundreds of construction jobs and, crucially, will bring approximately 70 full-time permanent jobs once the new cells are operational.”

Mr Byrne also highlighted the how the State Government has teamed up with Rockhampton Regional Council for the riverbank redevelopment transforming the CBD to attract businesses and investment.

He accused Michelle Landry of continuing to stall on support or commitment to the South Rockhampton Flood Levee; a project that would enhance the community and create jobs in construction.

According to Mr Byrne, the Palaszczuk Government's Back to Work (BTW) program, only available only in regional communities, has seen the region pay incentives to more than 160 employers who have hired more than 280 unemployed or long-term unemployed job seekers.

To target youth unemployment in CQ, Mr Byrne said more than $2 million had been paid to 215 employers who have engaged 377 job seekers aged 15-24 under the BTW Youth Boost introduced in December.

"The revived Skilling Queenslanders for Work initiative, scrapped by the LNP despite a proven record of success and efficiency, has now assisted 757 people in Central Queensland,” Mr Byrne said.

"Of those 511 have found real jobs, 191 have gone on to further training and 12 have returned to school.

"Skilling Queenslanders for Work has invested more than $9 million into the Central Queensland economy, $5.7 million of which has been spent directly in Rockhampton where 287 participants are now in work and earning a living as a direct result of the program.”



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