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Wednesday, 22 March 2017
Page: 2869

Mr CHRISTENSEN (Dawson) (19:40): The $500 million Mackay Ring Road, Stage 1, will create a wealth of jobs—600, in fact. These jobs will include concreters, plant operators, drivers and labourers. We have people with these skills and experiences already living in our community, so reading the news that the ring road is soon to start construction is very good news for those people. The project will need to move a lot of dirt, a lot of gravel, a lot of steel and a lot of concrete around. We have businesses already in the community who do just that and they have the plant and equipment and are waiting to go. Again, knowing that the ring road is about to get under way should be very good news to them, their employees and their families. An enormous amount of supply will be needed for a long supply chain to do that road. All that business and all those jobs mean pay packets spent in other local businesses, so the dollar goes around and around and continues to create and sustain even more local jobs. That is a massive employment boost for a region that has been enduring tough times for quite a number of years.

For the region to truly benefit, though, a fair share of the jobs must go to people who live in the local community and spend their pay packets in the local community as well. Unfortunately, on major infrastructure projects that has not always been the case. I can cite one other infrastructure project—and it is not too far from where the Mackay Ring Road will be built—where we saw examples of local service providers, local contractors and even local workers being overlooked and southern based contractors being brought in. The locals were not even considered. The head contractor may have had an existing relationship with capital city companies. They may even have had specific purchasing agreements in place. Whatever the reason, the outcome was not good. Many local service providers sat idle while watching southern or interstate companies travel all the way to our region to perform a service that a local could have done just as well or better, and for the same price or perhaps an even better price.

For the local economy to get the biggest boost it possibly can from this massive infrastructure project, a fair share of the contracts to undertake the work must go to local business operators, because they are the ones who live in the community and they spend in the community. When hundreds of millions of dollars are being spent on a project, there is a certain expectation in that community that those dollars will flow into the local economy. The locals do not expect those millions of dollars to be funnelled off to the south-east corner of Queensland or interstate.

While the federal government has stumped up the bulk of the funding for stage 1 of the Mackay Ring Road, the project is being administered by the state government, as these projects always are. The Queensland government decides who gets the tender for the Mackay Ring Road and it is the Queensland government that, basically, decides who decides who gets the jobs. A fair share of those jobs should go to locals. A fair share of those jobs must go to locals. Now is the time to fight for that outcome. I am asking Mackay locals to join the fight by signing a letter to the Premier of Queensland. The letter raises the community's concern that a southern contractor will no doubt win the tender for this project and could give many of those jobs to people from outside the region. The letter calls on the Queensland government to do the right thing by the Mackay region. It is a region that generated so much wealth for the state and for the nation during the mining boom. The letter calls on the Queensland government to ensure that this local project, the Mackay Ring Road project, creates local jobs. Regardless of who gets the head contract, who wins the tender, we simply ask that local businesses, suppliers and workers be given priority by the successful tenderer of the Mackay Ring Road project. Sending more pay packets to the south-east corner and southern states would be a gross neglect of regional Queensland and the people who drive the state's economy.

The letter is available to be signed on the website that I have set up at That should be up and running by the end of the week, and I encourage anyone who wants to see jobs for locals to sign that letter. This is an important message at an important time. The Mackay region has done it tough, but there are opportunities on the horizon. One of those opportunities for jobs in the economic recovery is the Mackay Ring Road. This is an opportunity to create jobs for locals; it is an opportunity we must seize with both hands.