Major infrastructure projects in North Queensland, such as the $565 million Mackay Ring Road and the $515 million Haughton River Bridge replacement, create a wealth of jobs. These jobs include concreters, plant operators, drivers, and labourers. We have businesses already in North Queensland who do just that and they have the plant and equipment there and waiting to go. The sheer volume of trade and jobs means pay packets, which are then spent in other local businesses, making the dollar go around and around, creating and sustaining even more jobs.
For North Queensland to truly benefit from these infrastructure projects, a fair share of those jobs must go to people who live in the local community and spend their pay packets inside that community. Unfortunately, on major infrastructure projects, that isn’t always the case. On one infrastructure project, not too far from the Mackay Ring Road, we saw examples of local service providers being overlooked and southern-based contractors brought in. The locals were not even considered. The head contractor may have an existing relationship with capital city companies. They may even have specific purchasing agreements in place. Whatever the reason, the outcome is the same.
For the local economy to get the biggest boost it possibly can, a fair share of the contracts must go to local business operators because they live here and they spend here. When hundreds of millions of dollars are being spent on a project, there is a certain community expectation that those dollars will flow into the local economy. Locals do not expect those millions of dollars to be funnelled off to the south-east corner of Queensland or interstate.
In early 2017, George Christensen wrote a letter to the Queensland Labor Premier, raising the community’s concern that a southern contractor might win the tender for the Mackay Ring Road project and could give many of those jobs to people from outside the region. The letter called on the Queensland Labor Government to do the right thing by the Mackay region and give locals a chance.
If you agree that 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 this State’s economy, register your thoughts here.