Tim Nicholls and the LNP’s attempt to match Labor’s Buy Queensland policy will replay the disastrous unemployment scoreboard from the days of the Campbell Newman government.
Queensland Council of Unions Assistant Secretary Michael Clifford said the Nicholls’ gameplan to give Queensland businesses “the last bid” on government contracts will mean that secure jobs, decent wages and safety for regional workers will also finish last.
“In a week where local businesses in north Queensland are bubbling with excitement at what the Cowboys’ local initiative and expertise can achieve, Tim Nicholls effectively wants to penalise businesses that pay fair wages and operate safe workplaces.
“His ‘Buy Local’ proposal has disastrous flaws that repeat the worst excesses of the Nicholls-Newman government that Queenslanders kicked into touch in 2015,” he said.
The recent statewide QCU Congress endorsed policies that focus on creation of good, secure jobs for Queensland workers through stimulating employment and leveraging the government’s spending power.
“The Nicholls plan instead seems to encourage businesses to cut wages and conditions to compete with overseas suppliers, which will be disastrous for regional communities,” said Mr Clifford.
“The LNP again signals it wants a race to the bottom for jobs, wages, workers’ safety and training for Queensland apprentices.
“When Tim Nicholls was in government with Campbell Newman, his Cabinet offshored major rail rolling stock contracts to India, and Queensland taxpayers are still paying the price in repairs and modifications as a result,” he said.
“Instead of getting behind local businesses and suppliers, especially in our regional areas, he’s just interested in the lowest bidder, regardless of quality, safe working conditions, or the impact on economic growth.”
He said union members would use the coming state election to quiz all candidates on their policies for investment in skills and training, support for regional communities and keeping public assets in public hands.
Mr Clifford said jobs and economic activity in regional areas was again making ground after the hammering endured during the Nicholls-Newman government.
“In Townsville, the current 7.3 percent regional unemployment rate is a major improvement on the Nicholls-Newman years when the rate almost hit 10 per cent.
“The jobs market in Townsville has seen a massive recovery with 16,200 new positions in the past year to August,” Mr Clifford said.
“We know creating good secure jobs is critical to ensuring thriving communities, especially in our regional areas like Townsville that are on the rebound.”
“And in Mackay, for example, the 3.9 per cent unemployment rate in Mackay was well below the state average of 6 percent and had the lowest regional rate in Queensland.
“While the jobless rate in Mackay is now below 4 percent, in the last few months of the Nicholls-Newman government it was well above 7 percent,” he said.
In Cairns, the youth jobless rate has improved drastically.
“The youth unemployment rate in Cairns has halved over the past 18 months, and job opportunities for our kids are recovering after the impact of the Nicholls-Newman years,” said Mr Clifford.
“There are now have 10,000 more people in work, across all sectors, over the past year,” he said.
“While the jobless rate in Cairns is now down to 5.6 percent, during the Nicholls-Newman government it was almost 10 percent,” he said.
Mr Clifford also pointed to backup for Labor’s Buy Queensland policy from the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland.
“This policy ensures that local businesses have a level playing field, and aren’t running uphill against foreign companies that can cut wages and ignore workplace safety to undercut local providers.
“The Nicholls plan would give a free kick to those offshore companies.” Mr Clifford said.