Queensland Unions have welcomed the 2018-19 State Budget for its continued focus on frontline services but say any public infrastructure funding must provide long-term benefits for regional communities.
Queensland Council of Unions General Secretary Ros McLennan applauded record spending on health to meet Queensland’s growing population, including funding for an extra 3500 nurses and midwives to meet a Labor election commitment.
“The Labor Party committed to restoring frontline staff and that’s what they’ve delivered for Queenslanders and their communities,” she said.
Spending on education and training also received a thumbs up, with the State committing $250 million over two years to build additional classrooms and upgrade school facilities.
She also welcomed the investment in TAFE, where $80M to upgrade TAFE campuses across the state is a welcome change from the Newman years when his government sought to privatise and sell off and even give away valuable public education facilities.
She also supported the extension of the payroll tax rebate to provide further tax relief to Queensland business, and support the employment of 26,000 apprentices and trainees.
“Jobs for Queenslanders is a central priority for Queensland Unions – and this increased funding for TAFE and other budget measures will provide more young Queenslanders with opportunities for decent, secure jobs.”
However, there was shared frustration over the implementation of the Buy Queensland policy, particularly around the expansion of the renewable energy industry and the Townsville Stadium.
“We’ve seen more than 1000 electricians rally today outside Parliament because they believe this government appears to be pulling the plug on its commitment to secure, local jobs, and keeping our assets in public hands.”
She said Queensland unions were concerned about the incursion of foreign-owned solar companies into the state’s electricity generation industry.
“It’s privatisation and asset sales by stealth.
“We’re particularly concerned about the out of control use of labour hire on these solar projects – with these outfits being allowed to hide behind the federal code, to exploit foreign workers and erode secure, local jobs.
“These jobs should be going to local skilled tradespeople, not under-qualified backpackers,” she said.
She also feared the long-awaited Townsville Stadium construction would also fail to deliver secure, local jobs.
“We didn’t fight to save our assets, and insist on putting local industries and businesses first, to have this happen,” she said.
Unions would continue working with the government to ensure these projects employed local, qualified workers in secure jobs with decent conditions, she said.