- Agriculture is paying Queensland’s bills but Government won’t invest
- Water and transport infrastructure upgrades desperately needed
- Boost productivity to create real jobs says local MP
Agriculture is paying Queensland’s bills but the Palaszczuk Government’s refusal to invest in vital infrastructure is choking future jobs and growth according to Member for Gregory, Lachlan Millar MP.
“The figures tell the story. As non-rural exports fell last financial year, Queensland’s agriculture exports rose by over a billion dollars - including a massive 53% rise in crop exports,” said Mr Millar.
“Not only is it paying our bills, it is providing permanent, sustainable employment. Queensland agriculture and its supply chain now employ one in seven Queenslanders. These jobs aren’t created for the life of a construction project or a mine. They are sustainable over generations,” he said.
But Mr Millar warned that the bush was in urgent need of funding for crucial infrastructure and the cost of failing to invest would impact on every Queenslander.
“We need to be upgrading existing infrastructure, and investing in new infrastructure, if agriculture is to lift us to the next level.
“Since this Government did away with the LNP’s Royalties for the Regions, we are seeing a $200 million per annum shortfall in funding for critical regional infrastructure, every year,” he said.
“At the moment our farmers are managing despite this, but without investment now we will start to slip down the ladder when competing in the global marketplace,” he said.
Mr Millar, whose electorate covers a vast area of central western Queensland east to the Central Highlands, said the type of projects requiring investment include the upgrading of bulk rail freight to the Port of Gladstone, the creation of a multi-modal inland port and freight hub near Emerald, the building of the Rookwood Weir and the sealing of wealth-generating roads, such as the state-owned Dawson Developmental Highway.
“The Labor government is currently paying employers $20,000 to hire regional school leavers. This is not a smart or sustainable way to generate employment. The Rookwood Weir would take two years to build and would generate over 2,000 jobs in agriculture. This is before you look at any ancillary jobs in the supply-chain supporting that agriculture and before you look at what it would generate in export earnings through the Port of Gladstone,” he said.
Mr Millar was hosting the Shadow Treasurer Scott Emerson and the Shadow Agriculture Minister Dale Last on a tour of the Central Highlands where cotton harvesting gets underway this week.
Over 17,000 hectares of irrigated cotton and 3,200 hectares of dryland cotton have been planted on the Central Highlands. This follows bumper winter wheat and chick pea harvests in the region.