Unions say fund Longman schools and hospitals before giving billions to banks

Unions will continue their focus on funding for schools and hospitals not billions for big business and the banks as the Longman by-election enters its final days.

Workers and their families have been a central part of the combined union campaign in the electorate north of Brisbane.

Queensland Unions remind Federal minister Christopher Pyne how local LNP candidate Trevor Ruthenberg endorsed job cuts to local hospitals under Campbell Newman’s LNP.

Queensland Council of Unions General Secretary Ros McLennan said unions would keep talking about funding schools and hospitals before the big banks, as well as better wages for working people, secure jobs and restoring penalty rates.

“These issues have hit a nerve in Longman,” she said, “and we’ll be working until 6pm Saturday to keep the community informed about the danger of voting for Trevor Ruthenberg. Our message to voters is to put the LNP last.”

Ms McLennan said the battle for Longman is about making Australia a fairer country again.

“The LNP candidate Trevor Ruthenberg was clearly a trusted lieutenant for former Queensland Premier Campbell Newman when he cut 14,000 public sector jobs, including 4400 health jobs in Queensland, and a whopping 700 nurses and midwives jobs cut from Brisbane North and Moreton Bay health regions alone.

“Ruthenberg was enthusiastically following orders in supporting Newman’s plan to sell off our electricity assets.

“In this campaign Ruthenberg has tried to dodge his track record of job cuts and asset sales when he was a state MP – but Queenslanders know the best indicator of the future is what has happened in the past.”

Ms McLennan said the Turnbull government should abandon its plan to hand $80 billion in corporate tax cuts for big businesses, including $17 billion to the big banks.

“Instead we should be investing in our future by funding schools and TAFE and providing quality services to working people through our health system,” she said.

“Pensioners are also copping it. Under this federal government, around 2000 pensioners living in Longman have had their pensions cut or taken away completely.”

She said the cuts to penalty rates in retail, hospitality, fast food and pharmacy industries added more pressure to 11,800 local workers and their families.

“We saw figures this week from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showing that real wage growth is on life support,” she said.

“The system is failing working people who desperately need a pay rise to be able to afford to support themselves and their families,” she said.

“Big business has too much power and the system is out of balance,” she said.

“This by-election is a referendum on priorities. Do we want the LNP to hand over billions to big business and the banks, cut $18.3 million from local schools, cut $2.9 million from Caboolture hospital and accept the loss of almost 1000 local apprenticeships?

“Or locals can vote for secure jobs, for better wages, to restore penalty rates, and for investment in health and education services for local families. That’s why Longman voters should put the LNP last,” she said.

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