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Wednesday, 28 February 2018
Page: 2293


Ms O'TOOLE (Herbert) (16:05): Let me be very clear: there is absolutely nothing confusing about this MPI. There is absolutely no doubt that the Turnbull government is a government for the top end of town. You only need to look at the coalition's track record in Townsville to know that this is a government that does not care about regional Queenslanders, as identified by the member for Rankin. This government does not care about families, it does not care about pensioners and it certainly does not care about workers.

Let's just look at the evidence regarding the Abbott-Turnbull governments' record in Townsville. Townsville's unemployment rate when Labor left federal government in 2013 was lower than both the state and national averages. Now Townsville's unemployment rate is higher than the state average and almost double the national average. Townsville's unemployment rate has almost doubled under the Abbott-Turnbull governments.

Under the previous Labor government, manufacturing in Townsville soared. When Labor left federal government in 2013, more than 8,400 people were employed in the manufacturing industry. But, under the Abbott-Turnbull governments, manufacturing has nosedived and we have seen job losses of more than 3,000. The manufacturing industry made up eight per cent of our local employment, but under the disastrous coalition governments manufacturing jobs and industry have spiralled down to 4.9 per cent. These were good-quality jobs, and now they are gone under the Abbott-Turnbull governments.

Then there has been the complete and utter decimation of our construction industry. Just yesterday, the Townsville workforce report commissioned by TP Human Capital showed that Townsville had 442 fewer construction industry business registrations last year than in 2012. That's a drop of 15.7 per cent. That's more jobs gone from Townsville under the Abbott-Turnbull governments.

Then let's look at the retail industry. The retail industry can often be a good yardstick to measure whether an economy is thriving. However, in Townsville, the workforce report clearly indicates that Townsville is not thriving, because we have lost 153 retail business registrations between 2012 and 2017. That's a fall of 17 per cent. That's more jobs gone. Let's not forget the coalition government's job cuts to the public sector: 110 ATO jobs gone, 50 Defence jobs gone and 40 aviation jobs at 38 Squadron gone. The coalition is a government of job cuts.

Whilst this government is killing industries and jobs in Townsville, it is giving big business a $65 billion tax cut. That shows the absolute nerve of the Turnbull government—giving big business a $65 billion tax cut and increasing taxes to low-income workers. Under this government, anyone earning between $21,000 and $87,000 a year will pay more income tax. Under the Turnbull government's plans to increase the Medicare levy, millionaires get a tax cut of $16,400 while someone earning $60,000 gets a tax hike of $300. This is a government for the top end of town, and regional Queenslanders have had enough. I will fight tooth and nail in this place every single day against the Turnbull government's job cuts and big business tax cuts.

Labor is committed to Townsville, and only Labor will deliver jobs for Townsville. Labor has committed $200 million to hydro power on the Burdekin Falls Dam. Labor has committed $100 million to address our long-term water security infrastructure. Just last week, Labor committed $75 million for the port expansion project, a commitment that will deliver more than $580 million in benefits to our regional economy. Labor has a jobs plan for Townsville.

The Turnbull government is out of touch and, frankly, doesn't appear to give a damn about pensioners, workers or families. It is completely unacceptable for a government to think that it's okay to give a $65 billion tax cut to big business while workers are struggling, penalty rates are being cut, people are flat out putting food on their table and pensioners in my community can't turn their air conditioners on because they simply can't afford the electricity bill. This government is beyond out of touch when it comes to regional Queensland.