House debates

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Constituency Statements

Herbert Electorate: Economy

11:47 am

Photo of Cathy O'TooleCathy O'Toole (Herbert, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Last year's federal budget was nothing short of a huge disappointment to the people of Herbert. My community did not receive one thing in last year's budget, which is a disgrace, as the Herbert community needed urgent government attention. The Herbert community has been doing it incredibly tough after successive LNP federal governments. We experienced record-high unemployment rates. Townsville's unemployment rate currently stands at 8.5 per cent, and youth unemployment is around 20 per cent. The number of apprentices has declined by 1,591, with youth unemployment, as I said, sitting at 20 per cent. And that's all happened since Labor left government in 2013. Under the Abbott and Turnbull governments, our manufacturing jobs have nosedived, with more than 3,000 job losses, not to mention the cuts to public sector jobs—110 ATO jobs, gone; 50 Defence jobs, gone; 40 aviation jobs at 38 Squadron, gone; 30 customs jobs, gone; 19 jobs at CSIRO, gone. The Townsville workforce report, commissioned by TP Human Capital, showed that Townsville had 442 fewer construction industry business registrations last year compared with 2012. There was also a loss of 153 retail business registrations in the same period.

I want to put the Townsville situation into perspective. During the global financial crisis Townsville's unemployment rate was 4.4 per cent. The GFC almost brought the nation to a standstill. Larger cities were really struggling. But it was the foresight of the Rudd Labor government that prevented this nation from moving into recession. Right now Townsville is experiencing its own financial crisis, and instead of being the epicentre of government attention we have been completely ignored by the Abbott and Turnbull governments, who have instead made further cuts to our community. I have written to the Treasurer, Scott Morrison, demanding that Townsville receives our fair share in this year's budget instead of being ignored.

I am demanding that the Turnbull government matches Labor's commitments to $100 million for long-term water security, $200 million to develop hydroelectric power on the Burdekin Falls Dam and $75 million to put towards the Townsville Port Expansion Project. These are vital infrastructure projects that will create and deliver local jobs and attract investment into Herbert.

I say to the Treasurer: enough is enough. We are sick of your cuts. It is time that Townsville gets its fair share, and it's time for the Turnbull government to match Labor's commitments to infrastructure for Townsville. The neglect of Townsville in the last budget is a very clear indication that the Turnbull government is completely out of touch with regional Queensland.