Newspaper article The Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Australia)

Could This Get CQ Back on Track?

Newspaper article The Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Australia)

Could This Get CQ Back on Track?

Article excerpt

Byline: Jessica Grewal

A BOLD jobs promise to address the 'stark' contrast between Central Queensland's ailing communities and its thriving south could decide the future of the state's Labor government.

The regional recovery plan mapped out by Queensland Treasurer Curtis Pitt at Tuesday's release of the Mid-Year Fiscal Economic Review paints an idyllic picture of the "lion's share" of a $365 million funding boost going to cities that are coming off the resource boom or that have low numbers of jobs.

Speaking to a room of reporters in the government's recently completed Brisbane skyscraper, a jubilant Mr Pitt announced an alignment of good fortunes - bumper agricultural crops, revenue from Central Queensland's completed LNG plants and above all, an unprecedented spike in coal prices - had led to a revised budget surplus of $2 billion.

From that, $160 million in new money has been allocated to the $200 million jobs and regional growth package that targets areas with the highest unemployment rates and offers training in manufacturing and tourism as well as support for challenged youths and job-seekers.

A $200 million Works for Queensland program will support local councils in undertaking job-creating maintenance and minor projects.

The Rockhampton Revival CBD renewal is also one of four infrastructure projects listed as a priority under the Advancing Our Cities and Regions program that aims to boost investment in economically challenged areas.

As promised in this year's budget, the increase of the First Home Owners Grant from $15,000 to $20,000 will remain in place until July 2017 and a $180 million boost to the existing electricity rebate package will ease bill pain for a further 157,000 households with Commonwealth health care cards.

Mr Pitt said the MYFER announcements were proof the State Government was delivering on its promise to reverse the unemployment rate and grow Queensland's economy.

Those claims were met with some scepticism and in the case of the State Opposition, glaring insults as shadow employment minister Jarrod Bleijie insisted Tuesday's announcement would "not go anywhere near repairing the damage Labor has inflicted". …

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