New MP discusses plans to tackle Mount Morgan unemployment
TO THE winner goes the spoils, but the victor for the seat of Mirani has also inherited a chronic problem in his electorate.
After his surprise victory, One Nation's Stephen Andrew had big plans for his electorate but one issue he's still coming to terms with is the long term unemployment situation in Mount Morgan which currently sits on 20.9 per cent (September 2017) compared with Rockhampton's unemployment rate of 8.4 per cent (June 2017).
Mr Andrew indicated to The Morning Bulletin he was keen to get on with the job of tackling Mount Morgan's unemployment head-on.
He planned to visit the township next Wednesday while on a fact finding mission traversing his vast CQ electorate, listening to community concerns in the lead up to Queensland Parliament returning.
The Mirani MP intended to meet with Acting Rockhampton Region Mayor Cherie Rutherford, Livingstone Shire Mayor Bill Ludwig, local constituents, the Mount Morgan Promotional and Development Team and members of the public.
There he hoped to hear their ideas for Mount Morgan and surrounding areas to understand what current employment opportunities existed and what opportunities could be unlocked in the future.
Mr Andrews had earmarked re-opening the Dinosaur Caves and harnessing existing projects like the Mount Morgan Streetscapes project which he said "not only boosts local employment opportunities through construction but also opens up the prospect of drawing more tourists to the region once completed”.
Rockhampton Region Acting-Mayor Cherie Rutherford said although the area had historically suffered from high unemployment for a prolonged period, progress has been made on the issue.
"ABS data shows the unemployment rate was 20.9 per cent as of September last year which, while still too high, is down from 26.5 per cent in 2015,” Cr Rutherford said.
"It is still absolutely too high though which is why we need to build on the green shoots we are starting to see in the local economy.
"That's why Council is supporting projects such as Carbine Resources bid to reopen the mine, which would create 110 jobs during construction and 70 ongoing jobs during operations.”
Cr Rutherford said council was also redesigning tourism strategies to capitalise on the revitalised CBD street scape project with further investment in the town next year through the Works for Queensland program and Council's Façade Improvement Scheme for local businesses on the Main Street.
"Last year, we also saw cross-party support from candidates toward the reopening of the Fireclay Caverns Dinosaur Tourism attraction and Council is working to progress that to fully capitalise on the tourism potential of Mount Morgan,” she said.
"There is still a lot of work to be done but Council is committed to working with the community, industry and local businesses to create more local jobs, increase visitor numbers and drive economic growth in the town.”
Former Labor member for Mirani Jim Pearce was greatly pleased to learn of the latest jobless figures saying the situation had improved significantly from the time when he remembered Mount Morgan unemployment sitting at a bleak 50 per cent.
"I think there's a new operator going to start work on the Mount Morgan mine, that should be another 50 jobs,” Mr Pearce said.
"The future is promising for Mount Morgan so long as those people are given every opportunity to get work at the mine.
"I'd hate to see the people of Mount Morgan overlooked in favour of people from South East Queensland or other areas where they have to travel long distances.”
Mr Pearce said Mount Morgan was a great town with a "magic history” and certainly deserves to be better treated than it has been in the past.
"Council needs to make sure that they promote opportunities that would be available for employment in the town,” he said.