O'Brien, Perrett slam State for 26-year failure in Gympie
GYMPIE'S political leaders have pointed the finger squarely at the Labor Government and called on it to do more for the region given its many "battlers”.
Data from the Queensland Statisticians' Office shows the region is well above the state average in social security support such as Newstart, the Age Pension and Family Tax Benefit A.
State MP Tony Perrett slammed the figures, along with the region's high unemployment and low earnings as "unacceptable”.
"Our unemployment rate of 8.9 per cent is 2.9 per cent above the state average and the Wide Bay youth unemployment rate of 23.5 per cent is almost double the state average of 13.0 per cent,” Mr Perrett said.
He said come next election the ALP would have been in power for 26 of 31 years, and for much of that time Gympie had been forgotten.
"In that time Gympie has been represented by the National Party, One Nation, and Independent and now the Liberal National Party,” he said.
He said the systemic problems were the result of successive State Governments "more focused on party games in Brisbane than addressing the real needs of our region”.
"The government needs a clear focus on specific programs to lift the average weekly earnings of households and reduce unemployment.”
A State Government spokesman refuted Mr Perrett's claims.
"Tony Perrett appears to be using incorrect data to talk his own community which is shameful,” he said.
He said there has been 10,100 jobs created in the Wide Bay, and unemployment was down from 8.5 per cent after skyrocketing to 10.1 per cent in 2015 under the LNP.
Not that the work was done.
"That's why we will continue to work to implement programs like Skilling Queenslanders for Work and Back to Work and fund local infrastructure and frontline services,” the spokesman said.
"Tony Perrett may want to cut the number of people on the aged pension or disability pension but if people qualify for this assistance because they have worked all their life or have a disability that prevents them from fully participating in the workforce, they should have access to that safety net.”
Wide Bay MP Llew O'Brien also pointed at the ALP and debacles such as Traveston as holding the region back.
Mr O'Brien said the Federal LNP had funded projects such as the Gympie Bypass and Coondoo Creek upgrade, but had little help.
"We're doing our bit and we need the State Government to take the initiative instead of drowning us in a dam,” he said.
Of the "battler” rates, he said those on the Age Pension and Family Tax Benefit A should not always be looked at in a bad light.
He said Gympie's affordability was attractive to those looking for a lower cost lifestyle, including older people who had a right to access the pension.
"This is a great place to live,” he said.