State Government urged to spend big surplus on regional jobs

Tuesday 13 December, 2016

The Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland (CCIQ) wants to see the State Government commit more money to boosting jobs in regional Queensland.

CCIQ welcomed Treasurer Curtis Pitt’s announcement today of a forecast operating surplus in 2016-17 of $2 billion – more than double predicted in the June State Budget.

Mr Pitt promised $170 million for jobs and regional growth and a $20 million package to boost manufacturing as part of the Mid-Year Fiscal and Economic Review.

CCIQ State Manager of Advocacy Kate Whittle said the government’s stimulus package would help boost jobs in regional Queensland, but wanted to see more detail on its plans.

“It is certainly encouraging and we would welcome any measures to make it easier for businesses to employ in regional areas,” she said.

“Many of our regions are suffering high unemployment, particularly with young people, and the government needs to take urgent action to address this serious issue.

“This is the largest surplus Queensland has seen in a decade and even if this is off the back of rising commodities, it is still important to acknowledge this achievement.”

However, CCIQ is concerned about the light-on-detail of the government measures announced today.

Ms Whittle said initiatives such as Young Tourism Leaders Network and Youth Employment and Training Initiatives were a start, but there was more work to be done.

“Roundtables to discuss employment problems and appointing youth leaders to inspire others are all well and good. But you have to question whether it will address rising youth unemployment in Queensland in the short term,” she said.

“And $20 million for the manufacturing sector is welcomed, but this sector requires greater support to ensure our competitiveness both domestically and globally.

“We currently have a two-tiered jobs market and the question on everyone’s minds is whether or not the forecast surplus will be effectively redirected to tackle the dramatic fall in employment in regional Queensland.”

Ms Whittle said it was crucial the government invested heavily in infrastructure as this was a certain way to boost jobs.

“Hopefully the $200 million Works for Queensland fund will see the government reinvest in regional infrastructure and regional jobs packages.

“General government expenses are expected to increase by 5.8 per cent in 2016-2017, higher than the 5.5 per cent estimated in the June Budget. This is one area the government can control and it is critical that a good degree of expenditure restraint is exercised here in the future.

“Overall, Queensland’s economy is tracking in the right direction but we remain in a transitional phase, and without the surge in commodities, we would see a very different picture to what we see today. What this means is the government’s policy decision-making in terms of boosting job growth and generating economic activity is absolutely critical.

“Small business is eager to see further detail with respect to today’s announcements and CCIQ will work with the government to ensure industry views are integrated into any jobs plan for Queensland.”

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