Low business confidence and high unemployment in central and western Queensland must be urgently addressed, according to the Member for Gregory, Lachlan Millar.
Mr Millar told Parliament yesterday that while January saw record coal exports and a substantial rise in the exports of beef and crops, CQ was struggling.
“We are going through tough times but we are still making money for the Government and now is the time for them to return the favour. It is famine and feast. Bowen Basin mines are shipping record tonnages and paying royalties on every bit of coal but we have 20,000 job losses across the sector,” he said.
“Some of the royalties should be coming back to us in a fully-funded plan to support our local governments, our small business and our workers.
“Instead the Labor government has stripped away the Royalties for the Regions program and replaced it with a fancy name and much less money. It leaves many Central Queensland shires from the Barcoo to the Central Highlands with less funding.”
Mr Millar said road funding had also been stripped away.
“The QTRIP is supposed to be a fully-funded, four year plan for road maintenance and capital works. Unfortunately, after the first two years the current plan for Central Queensland becomes an unfunded wish-list rather than a to-do list,” he said.
Mr Millar said road funding is an essential and major funding source for Central Queensland shires.
“It provides job security for many workers and their families. It allows shires to forward plan. The Longreach mayor and the Barcoo mayor have begged the Premier to restore road funding certainty,” he said.
“Much of the current road work is being undertaken with NDRRA funding. That is rapidly coming to an end and all too often that NDRRA work has gone to outside contractors, because of government red-tape.
“We need secure funding that can be used to sustain local jobs,” said Mr Millar.
Mr Millar said with 46 State Schools in Gregory the Government should have a much larger investment in both new and maintenance works, while government employee housing across Central Queensland needed urgent upgrading.
“It affects our ability to recruit and retain the front-line workers we need to staff our schools and hospitals, our police stations and emergency response services. Investing in that Government housing stock would help our local tradies weather the current crisis so we can retain their services – and their families - in our towns,” he said.
“The Government should have a fully-funded plan to sustain CQ. Instead they are stripping out funding at the very time we need it the most,” he said.