January 2015

Queensland leads the way... with unemployment

Worse unemployment since the Great Depression

Queensland’s unemployment rate, at 6.9%, is now the highest in the nation, equalled only by Tasmania’s.

Tasmania’s economy is hampered by a number of structural barriers, including population size, remoteness, and transport expense. Queensland has none of these problems.

Queensland’s exceptionally high unemployment is entirely that of the poor policy decisions and financial mismanagement of the LNP . But this means we can fix it. We can free employers to work with Queensland’s many natural advantages to deliver quality jobs in productive industries.

Our high unemployment is the result of the state’s cargo-cult emphasis on big projects, mainly in mining. At this moment, the Premier is spruiking his plan to spend billions subsidising an Indian company’s proposed new coal operation in the Galilee Basin. Why? Because he claims this will produce “ten thousand” jobs.

This is nonsense. Even if the new mine project goes ahead and people are employed, these people won’t be coming off the dole queue. They’ll be skilled people who are needed elsewhere in the economy. We might end up with a lot of jobs concentrated on one project, but vanishingly few of those will be net new jobs.

I lived in a regional centre during the last mining boom. Businesses there were completely starved of key staff, all of the hands-on people who keep the machinery running in manufacturing, processing, and maintenance industries.

The last mining boom wiped out many businesses which depended on skilled industrial labor. Now that the shrinking mining companies have spat those workers back out, their old jobs no longer exist.

The LNP government is spending taxpayer money to set us up for the next big bust. Money allocated to rail and other infrastructure, for the benefit of a foreign company, is money that cannot be spent on rail infrastructure elsewhere, or on anything else. It’s just gone.

The solution lies in developing a diversified and robust economy rather than one which depends on giant projects which cost taxpayers a fortune and never deliver much benefit to Queensland’s economy or its taxpayers.

The solution lies in developing Queensland’s world-class clean energy resources, making use of the excellent grid we already own. The solution lies in expanding rail transport to boost the productivity of our regional and our urban areas. The solution lies in supporting permanent industries such as food production, value-added materials processing, and the giant market for export services in the form of education and tourism.

Jeff Seeney versus the Science of Climate Change

Science and the public interest have come off second best in the continuing fight between the Queensland Planning Minister Jeff Seeney and the observable reality of climate change, say the Queensland Greens.

Seeney, who is also Deputy Premier, has forced coastal local government to omit all references to the increasing sea levels that science tells us to expect.

According to the ABC, Mr. Seeney directed the Moreton Bay Regional Council "to amend its draft planning scheme to remove any assumption about a theoretical projected sea level rise from all and any provision of the scheme."

Previously, most council plans factored into their planning a sea level rise of 80 cm over the next century.

“Sea levels are rising,” said Greens candidate for Redcliffe, Pete Johnson. “Governments rely on all sorts of projections from transport demand to coal price forecasts. To ignore sea level projections selectively is at best short-sighted, but to order them ignored by local government could be considered tantamount to planning negligence.”

Queensland Greens spokesperson Dr. Charles Worringham added, “Planning is about the forseeable future, and vulnerable low-lying areas are clearly at much higher risk from storm surges as sea levels increase. Queenslanders expect their local council to undertake prudent planning for the future, and the State government to provide support - not ideologically-based interference.

“The Queensland Greens challenge Mr. Seeney to state what scientific advice he has that sea level increases do not impose heightened risk, and what legal advice he has that absolves Queenslanders from liability for future claims arising from actions taken using local plans that have had scientific projections censored out of them.’ said Dr. Worringham.

Morrison should abandon failing welfare to work programs

Welfare to work programs are ineffective and ideologically driven

The Australian Greens argue that new Social Services Minister Scott Morrison cannot ignore new evidence that points to the failure of the ‘welfare to work’ approach undertaken by Australia’s last four Prime Ministers.

“Welfare to work programs are ineffective and ideologically driven. They waste resources that should be used to help people into secure, long term employment,” Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens spokesperson on family and community services said.

“Analysis undertaken by ANU highlights the failures of the welfare to work regimes that have been supported by the Howard, Rudd, Gillard and Abbott Governments.

“Since 1998 we have seen welfare to work, single parent payment cuts, tougher disability support payment rules, ineffective work for the dole schemes and many more poor policy decisions that have hurt vulnerable people and have not improved employment.

“The Abbott Government, with Scott Morrison now leading the charge, have plans to take an even tougher approach, but this new analysis shows just how flawed this would be.

“The new Minister should study the evidence and abandon this Government’s cruel approach and instead focus on investments in better employment services, skills development, case management, education, training and other programs would deliver far better results than an ideological commitment to work for the dole and denying people income support for six months at a time.

“The Government shouldn't continue to ignore the evidence and embark on an approach which we know will not work,” Senator Siewert concluded.