Twenty per cent of jobs in Central Queensland rely on the agriculture, mining and manufacturing industries. That is double the rate for the rest of Australia, just 10 per cent of Australians are employed in these sectors.
These industries are essential and we are realising just how essential during the coronavirus pandemic. Food has been kept on our shelves thanks to our farmers and our national wealth has held up because our mines are still running. Our manufacturing industries have responded by producing enormous quantities of hand sanitisers and life saving ventilators.
We should take pride in the wealth that these industries produce for the nation from Central Queensland and the central role they have played in helping Australia respond to the coronavirus.
But we should also thank these industries because they have helped shield us from the worst of the economic fallout from the coronavirus.
There are businesses in Central Queensland hurting, tourism and some hospitality businesses are doing it very tough. And many have lost their jobs or had their hours cut back.
However, the impact here has been relatively lower than many other parts of the nation thanks to our reliance on essential industries like food, coal and gas. Even during a global pandemic people still need to eat and they still heat their homes.
Last week the Australian Bureau of Statistics released data on the number of Australians in work. This data shows that there has unfortunately been a two per cent reduction in the number of jobs in Central Queensland. That reduction, however, is the 11th lowest of the 87 statistical regions around the country.
Not surprisingly, those regions with the largest reductions in employment are in those areas where the pandemic has been the most acute. More than 10 per cent of jobs have been lost in inner city Melbourne. And not a single Queensland region is in the 30 regions with the biggest losses of jobs.
Clearly it has been Queensland’s comparatively strong agriculture and mining industries that have helped cushion the blow of the global pandemic. The mining state of West Australia too is over-represented in those areas with a smaller impact on jobs.
It will be these industries too that help us rebuild after coronavirus. There is enormous opportunities to develop our agricultural resources by building dams and opening up new farming areas. Mining opportunities exist right across Australia and there is a renewed appreciation for why we should use more our raw materials here to bring back manufacturing to Australia.
To do these things we are going to need to make it easier to do business. The best way we can thank the industries that have helped us get through the coronavirus is to get of the red tape that holds them back.
The New Acland coal mine has been waiting 13 years for approval from the Queensland Government. Approvals under federal law have blown out from about two years to over three years. We are putting laws to the Federal Parliament that would get rid of these delays by giving powers to approve projects back to state governments.
But more needs to be done. Unfortunately many Australian businesses have been forced into a kind of hibernation while we fight the coronavirus. To rekindle our economy we should consider hibernating the regulators for a period. We need to unshackle our agricultural, mining and manufacturing industries so they can create jobs when all of this over.