ASPIRE CQ: Good times must be shared
SINCE writing last week's column, another state budget has been delivered and Adani has basically been given the green light.
With the increased spending on infrastructure, as well as payroll tax concessions for some regional businesses and the regional jobs going to be offered by Adani, the only way from here (just like the state's debt and public service numbers) is up.
Yet, while it does appear exciting for a region like Rockhampton, why aren't we excited? Is it because they are just words at the moment and "I'll believe it when I see it”, or "I'm not seeing a difference in my pay packet so what is there to get excited about?”
Jobs will be created and filled by a combination of local job shift, job migration and by the underemployed.
This will lead to visible change happening in our region - be it an increase in the wages of locals accepting FIFO positions or noticing more hi-vis outfits when shopping, or that you have a job. But if you don't change you possibly won't benefit or get excited by the potential growth spurt coming. And it's not just workers that need to handle the significant and possibly quick changes coming.
There would be businesses in Rockhampton worried by what is on the horizon - "how am I going to keep my employees?” Change brings opportunities, but not everyone sees how they can grasp them. This cannot be ignored as we highlight the results of more money circulating in our economy, with the extra jobs created, rising real estate prices, decreasing vacancy rates, and new businesses opening.
Not everyone benefits, especially those on fixed incomes and renting.
While a lot of work has been done to attract more industry to our region, we also need to work on ensuring the benefits can be shared by as many as possible.
How do we capitalise on the change coming? Job skill training is an obvious one, recruitment strategies another - but what about those over 70 years of age? If they live in their own home, an increase in property value could really just mean an increase in rates to them.
Then there are the maintenance costs that are likely to increase in line with labour costs. Look at what happened in Gladstone during its LNG boom - older residents left, along with those on low incomes.
There are government initiatives to help "eligible” people, but are these promoted, understood and implemented well enough to help all intended? And what if you are not eligible?
The State Government has budgeted to spend more money on increasing the public service to improve frontline service delivery. Can the greater CQ regional councils' united calls for action extend to ensuring this increase in headcount is fairly distributed across the state and delivers in preparing as many people as possible for the changes ahead - be they pensioners, unemployed, business owners or FIFO workers.
Not just in delivering job readiness programs but preparing for whole-of-community change. Economic growth should not just be about acronyms and statistics, it should be about people and their quality of life, all people.
-- Warren Acutt, Aspire CQ