Calls for a wider response to address fallout from the resources downturn

Posted January 21, 2016

Tony Caruso Headshot

Regional Queensland leaders are calling for a proportional response from the state government to the resource industry downturn.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has announced an accelerated works program in Townsville opening up access to projects that have the potential to unlock 430 jobs.

That’s in the face of more than 230 sackings from Queensland Nickel and the move by the company to enter voluntary administration.

Mackay’s Regional Industry Network (RIN) is asking where was the government’s commitment to the northern Bowen Basin as mining and aligned industry shed thousands of jobs after the resource downturn.

“20,000 jobs have been lost in the resource sector across Queensland in the past two years, with Mackay, Isaac and the Whitsundays bearing the brunt of many of these,” RIN Chairman Tony Caruso said.

“Many more than just 200 jobs in one particular company, Mackay’s entire mining, manufacturing and engineering sector has been hard hit by the plunging coal prices, with spending by the mining houses down 30 per cent in the Mackay region.

“In fact, 7000 jobs have disappeared in the past 12 months.

“Mackay is the largest economic contributor to state coffers in the northern region yet we are continually overlooked for Government assistance and job-creating opportunities.

“We have well-established, ready-to-go infrastructure and a highly-skilled workforce yet the Palaszczuk Government has again flown past us, instead taking its focus to Townsville as the ‘major regional centre’ for the North.”

Leaders in the north west of the state are asking the same question.

Premier Palaszczuk was quick on the scene after Glencore made more than 530 workers redundant in October last year from its George Fisher, Lady Loretta and McArthur River zinc operations.

Around 80 of these were based in Mount Isa. It was part of an on-going series of redundancies.

They were yet to see anything resembling an accelerated works program said Deputy Mayor and owner of Mount Isa Mining Supplies, Brett Peterson.

The mining downturn was hurting communities all over the country and Mount Isa was hurting just as much, if not more than Townsville, said Cr Peterson.

“Mount Isa is more exposed to mining than Townsville which has a diversified economy,” he said.

“The state government didn’t fly any response group into Mount Isa when the Glencore sackings were announced. The premier flew out here for rodeo but we’ve seen nothing.

“There have been a number of businesses that have closed. In one case I went out to a business owner’s shed and put him onto lifeline.

“We’re entitled to help as much as they are in Townsville or anywhere else. We don’t want handouts but at the end of the day, it is nice to know that someone has your back.”

While congratulating Townsville City Council, Townsville Enterprise and the state government for working together to co-ordinate a local response to the QN sackings Cr Peterson said the council had civil works projects that needed to be addressed.

“We have a good power supply and our water infrastructure will hold out but our roads need a lot of work.”


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