Statement on Wide Bay Burnett Jobs Package – Federation Chamber
The Wide Bay region has long struggled with high unemployment. It is a battle that I have faced myself. I remember in my late teens and early 20s going door to door, desperate to get any job I could find to support my young family, so I understand the power of employment and the dignity that employment brings. Many people also find themselves in the same situation today, particularly young people who are sometimes forced to leave their homes and families in Wide Bay just so they can find a job.
The coalition government’s new $20 million Wide Bay Burnett regional jobs and investment package is designed to create jobs in our region. It will be matched by funds from other sources, creating $40 million of new investment, and puts the power back into the local area with a committee of leaders who understand the challenges and opportunities of their communities.
I thank committee members Bill Trevor, Nancy Bates, Stephen Cooper, Kathy Duff, Eric Law, Kerren Smith, Don Waugh, Leone Aslett and Glen Winney. They bring a variety of skills and experience ranging from education to development, media, local government and business. All are committed to capturing new opportunities to improve Wide Bay. Local people know their region better than anyone, and their knowledge will be vital in creating a community-driven partnership between the coalition government, business and the region. With their input, the jobs package will enable local businesses to expand, diversify, create jobs, grow skills, pursue export opportunities and invest in infrastructure and training.
High unemployment has dogged our region, especially in the time since the election of the Rudd Labor government. When the coalition left office in 2007, the Wide Bay regional unemployment rate was 3.5 per cent below the national average, but under the Labor government the unemployment rate rose in the Wide Bay region, skyrocketing to 12 per cent by 2011.
Business is the key driver for Wide Bay’s economy, and there is a huge potential for growth in this region. The jobs package will support growth with a specific targeted and tailored investment pool. The package will make the Wide Bay Burnett more attractive to investors, increase productivity, boost competitiveness and create economic growth. It will help our unemployed to find hope and opportunity in their own region. I am pleased that the coalition government is delivering on my election commitment to grow jobs in Wide Bay and Burnett through this $20 million jobs boost.