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Monday, 26 February 2018
Page: 1922


Ms O'TOOLE (Herbert) (11:00): Today I am proud to stand in this place and take up the fight against the Turnbull government's severe job cuts to Public Service jobs in Townsville, and I move:

That this House:

(1) notes that ongoing cuts to public sector jobs in regional cities like Townsville have had a detrimental impact on the local economy and include:

(a) the relocation of Royal Australian Air Force's 38 Squadron King Air fleet from Townsville to East Sale in Victoria resulting in the loss of more than 40 aviation jobs in Townsville;

(b) the Government's change of process in second division resulting in the loss of up to 10 Townsville Australian Public Service defence support staff;

(c) Townsville having 50 fewer defence staff in June 2017 than it had in December 2012;

(d) 19 jobs having been cut from CSIRO in Townsville over the last few years;

(e) regional Queensland Customs staffing being cut by 50 per cent with 30 job losses from Gladstone to Thursday Island with Townsville being one of the hardest hit; and

   (f) the consolidation of the Australian Taxation Office in 2014 resulting in the loss of 110 jobs in Townsville;

(2) acknowledges that maintaining public sector jobs is important in regional Australia and notes that job cuts are harmful to regional cities like Townsville; and

(3) calls on the Government to ensure the coming federal budget puts a moratorium on these regional jobs cuts in public sector agencies.

I am here to say loudly and clearly: enough is enough. I will fight against these job cuts, and I will fight for the workers of Townsville. I will stand up for both white- and blue-collar jobs because, without a shadow of a doubt, Townsville needs and deserves both. I have had enough of the Turnbull government's job cuts, and I want real action that delivers jobs for everyone, not just a few.

I am on the ground talking and meeting with regional Queenslanders, unlike this completely out-of-touch Turnbull government, and I can assure you that the impact of the job cuts delivered by the Abbott-Turnbull government has been nothing short of devastating to my community. These cuts directly affect jobs in the heart of Townsville's CBD, and the flow-on effect from these cuts has been widely felt in the broader community. It has been felt in businesses that have thrived in the Townsville CBD, like Batik Bazaar, a small business that has traded for more than 34 years, which has just closed its doors. This is a business that thrived under prime ministers like Hawke, Keating, Howard, Rudd and Gillard and is now being forced to shut its doors under the Turnbull government. This is a clear indication of the effects that the Turnbull government is having on the ground on small businesses in my community. They are closing their doors, and jobs are being lost.

As reported in the Townsville Bulletin, business confidence in Townsville continues to nosedive. A strong presence of government departments and government jobs brings confidence to our region and particularly to our city. When we have a strong government presence in terms of public sector jobs, the take-home message on the ground is that the government believes in our community and that we are a safe place for investment, and that does create jobs and grows small-business opportunities. However, this has not been the case under the Turnbull government, because this government doesn't care about public sector jobs. They are being cut, time and time again, and the people of Townsville are tired of it.

The Turnbull government took a 'jobs and growth' slogan to the last election. Well, let me tell you, the people of Townsville have seen that for what it actually is: a political slogan and nothing more. Under the Turnbull government, the only growth that we have seen is in our unemployment and underemployment figures. Under the Abbott-Turnbull governments, unemployment has doubled in our community. While industries have gone, jobs have also gone. This is the coalition's track record in Townsville.

But I must say that the government needs to be aware that the people of Townsville have very long memories, and they will voice their memories when it comes time to vote at the next election, because we deserve better, and our young people deserve opportunities for jobs, particularly in the public sector. So I call on the Turnbull government to immediately reinstate the hundreds of jobs that have been cut from the Townsville public sector. The public sector has been the backbone of our community for decades and decades, and it is absolutely essential that the government pays attention to this fact and stops the vicious cuts to our public sector. We have been flat out recovering from the Newman era, and we've walked straight into the same opportunities and job cuts that the Abbott-Turnbull governments have delivered us.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr Buchholz ): I thank the honourable member for her contribution. Is the motion seconded?

Ms Owens: I second the motion and reserve my right to speak.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: I thank the honourable member and give the call to the honourable member for Parramatta.