Wednesday, 14 September 2016
Flynn Electorate: Economy
While the nation's economy continues to grow strongly, many in Central Queensland are doing it tough. Since the completion of many construction projects in the gas and coal industries across the Bowen Basin, we are coming off a high and moving towards a very low low.
Many find themselves without work. They still owe money on homes, motor vehicles, boats et cetera bought when the good times were there. Rents have plummeted, and many houses and units are empty across Central Queensland. Businesses in the cities and towns have felt the brunt of this, as households with uncertain futures withhold discretionary spending. That has led to the current plight of many small retailers. This can have a devastating flow-on effect as businesses are unable to employ some staff or even have to close their doors for the first time in many years. These communities need jobs and training for their survival.
I am proud to be part of a coalition government committed to delivering projects and economic outcomes the communities in Flynn really need—communities like Blackwater, Gladstone, Emerald, Tieri, Biloela, Springsure and Capella. They all face the same situation. We are planning to do this for a number of vital projects that promise to drive employment in these most affected areas. A $30 million Bowen Basin package was announced by Minister Nash during the last couple of months. With this we hope to modify and improve the operations in the coalfields and beyond, driving employment in this highly variable jobs market. The $10 million for CQUniversity's Gladstone Marina campus upgrade will see state-of-the-art training facilities in the port, bringing trade skills and tertiary engineering students together for an exciting Australian-first project.
One of the most important things government can do is fertilise the economy. Employment opportunities in CQ always improve when coal prices rise, and I was pleased to see the coal price go up in the last couple of months. Our coal prices are nudging $70 a tonne for thermal coal, and coking coal, which is used, of course, in steel manufacture has risen to $150 a tonne. This could not be the case had Labor introduced a carbon tax. By cutting small business tax we are also allowing business the freedom to employ extra people, an opportunity they simply could not achieve previously. Our water projects in the North Burnett and South Burnett will certainly aid and assist our agriculture industries. By opening new trade agreements we are giving our producers and manufacturers a fighting chance to compete on the world stage, and we must consider ourselves— (Time expired)