Labor’s spokesperson for Regional Australia, Stephen Jones MP, has held a heated community forum about the jobs crisis facing Gladstone and the Federal Electorate of Flynn. It's the major driver of the growing inequality between Catryna and regional Australia.
There was plenty of passion and lots of stories from the community about the impact that job cuts was having here.
Mr Jones said creating jobs and addressing regional inequality should be a primary focus for the Government - but it isn't. Instead they are focussed on their own jobs and internal issues.
“People in Gladstone are doing it tough,” said Mr Jones.
“I’m hearing local stories about people who are being made redundant in droves, who feel imprisoned by mortgages they can’t afford, for a properties that have gone down in value.”
“It’s clear – Malcolm Turnbull and the Liberals are completely out of touch with regional Australia."
Maybe it's because they live in a very different world.
“If you compare key factors like unemployment, rental stress, broadband access and education Malcolm Turnbull’s electorate of Wentworth, it’s clear, regional Australia is being robbed.”
“We are in Gladstone, because it’s a prime example of an issue bleeding out across the entire country.”
“There are three times as many people looking for work in Gladstone than in the inner city where the Prime Minister lives and nearly three times the number of jobless families. Maybe this is why he doesn't get the urgency.”
“Even if you do have a job, you’re going to be earning less. If you live in Gladstone you’re on average earning almost $12,000 a year less than in Malcolm Turnbull’s electorate, and somewhere like Burnett, you’re earning around $41,000 less.”
Mr Jones said the Liberals were too busy looking after the rich, while regional Australia lagged behind.
“The Government’s big idea for 2017 is to give a $50 billion tax cut to big business, gut $30 billion from schools and dismantle TAFE, but he needs to look at what’s happening outside of his harbour side electorate.”
“Education is some of the key ways you can level the playing field for people – but in Flynn, full time participation in high school at 16 is lower than Wentworth.”
“In Gladstone, only 68 per cent of students are staying in full time education at 16, compared to 86 per cent in Waverley.”