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.