Newspaper article The Daily Mercury (Mackay, Australia)

Tourism, Skills Are Key Issues; Dawson Candidates Go Head-to-Head on Local Issues at Chamber Debate

Newspaper article The Daily Mercury (Mackay, Australia)

Tourism, Skills Are Key Issues; Dawson Candidates Go Head-to-Head on Local Issues at Chamber Debate

Article excerpt

Byline: Caitlan Charles caitlan.charles@newsregionalmedia.com.au

HOW do we bring people to the region, whether it be tourists or skilled workers?

That was the main question most people had at the 2019 Dawson Debate, where Mackay residents grilled Federal candidates for Dawson about the issues that might influence their vote on May 18.

Attracting tourists was the first question of the Mackay Region Chamber of Commerce event.

Katter's Australian Party candidate Brendan Bunyan said the money would flow into tourism if the mining and agriculture industries were thriving, with workers spending more in the local economy.

"People talk about pumping money into something ... sometimes we need to make it work naturally," he said.

United Australia Party's Colin Thompson felt it was more important to bring people to the region by streamlining air travel to Mackay and Proserpine.

"When people are in a position to holiday, they want the best bang for their buck," he said. "It comes down to access ... you've got to get two planes (here)."

He said the UAP would look at flight schedules to the region and improving infrastructure.

The skilled-worker shortage affecting businesses on every level was a key topic at the debate.

Dawson MP George Christensen said while Mackay's youth unemployment rate was manageable, Townsville's 17 per cent youth unemployment rate needed to be addressed.

He said keeping students in the region when they finished high school, and educating them through local universities, was the best way to ensure the future of the region.

But in the short term, Mr Thompson said it was issues like the cost of living that were keeping skilled workers away.

Mr Christensen described the region as blessed and said: "There is so much going on for our region, why aren't people moving here? …

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