We want a Fair Go on jobs, but the government's failing us
REGIONAL Queensland is missing out on jobs despite the Federal Government promising two years ago that public sector positions would be moved out of capital cities.
It has prompted Australia's industry leaders to call for more action on decentralisation to tackle unemployment in the nation's job-starved regions.
The Federal Government employs more than 140,000 people but only 20,000 are based in regional cities across the country, and that figure is barely climbing.
"A meagre 430 positions across 13 agencies were re-located from capital cities nationwide between 2017 and 2019.
This financial year there are just over 20 positions coming to regional Queensland.
That's despite the Federal Government committing to move more jobs into regional Queensland following a concerted campaign by this newspaper and dozens more titles across the country.
Our extensive nationwide Fair Go for the Regions campaign highlighted the disparities between city and regional life. This newspaper - and dozens of others - elicited a promise from Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to bring public sector jobs to our area in 2017.
The promise was made on the back of the Fair Go for the Regions campaign.
Regional Development Minister Fiona Nash in 2017 outlined a 13-year masterplan to drive employment and population growth in regional areas, with a specific focus on moving public sector departments into regional Australia.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced in this year's Budget 191 jobs from six agencies would be spread across the country's remote areas.
This is despite a sweeping parliamentary inquiry into regional development across Australia recommending a coordinated approach to decentralisation more than a year ago.
Amanda Walsh, an expert in regional development policy, said it was difficult to see the benefits of decentralisation when it happened in such a scattergun approach.
She branded the Federal Government's response to the inquiry "deeply disappointing".
"One of the great things about that report is that it looked at decentralisation in a really thorough and sophisticated way ... but only if we first do the really serious work of understanding what is important in every community, what the problems are and how we solve them," Ms Walsh said.
"Flinging small numbers of public servants around a whole bunch of regional electorates is not necessarily going to achieve much at all."
She said the government needed to focus on how different offices would work in communities with specialised workforces and industries.
"Can you show you've done the work to understand what it means to move that job? Could there be downsides? Will retailers in the town lose staff to a new public service agency that comes? Are the jobs going to be vacant or are you moving people with their families who might be able to help populate local schools?" she said.
Regional Services and Decentralisation Minister Mark Coulton said the government was actively monitoring opportunities to relocate the appropriate public sector jobs into the regions.
He said the process of decentralisation involved finding the right fit for each region to ensure "the jobs connect well within the area", pointing to the opening of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority regional HQ in Coffs Harbour, NSW, in August.
"Relocating public servants to regional areas means they are closer and better connected to the regions they serve," Mr Coulton said.
"Additionally, we're investing in regional healthcare, education and telecommunications to encourage families and the private sector to relocate."
Mr Coulton said more than 1700 new and relocated jobs from capital cities had been announced since 2013 and there had been a 12 per cent increase in regional public service roles since 2012. - NewsRegional
BY THE NUMBERS
191 jobs moving in the 2019-20 Budget:
- 76 positions to be relocated within the Murray-Darling Basin Authority from Canberra to Griffith, Mildura, Murray Bridge and Goondiwindi
- 25 Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities positions will move to Orange
- Indigenous Business Australia will relocate 10 Canberra-based positions to IBA Regional Offices in Western Australia, Queensland and New South Wales
- The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet's Indigenous Affairs Group will relocate 35 positions from Canberra to Broome, Coffs Harbour and Alice Springs
- New Comcare offices will be established in Darwin (20 positions) and Launceston (10 positions), including staff transferred from existing offices and new positions advertised in the local area
- The Australian Financial Security Authority will move 15 Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne positions to Perth, Hobart and Brisbane.
- 69 positions at the Australian Maritime Safety Authority from Canberra and new positions including 35-40 positions (increasing to 50) to Coffs Harbour, NSW; 3 positions to Airlie Beach, Queensland, 16 positions to Cairns, Gladstone, Mackay, Queensland; Hobart, Tasmania; Darwin, NT; Geraldton, Karratha, Port Hedland, WA
- Nine positions in Inland Rail at the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development to Dubbo and Moree, NSW, Wodonga, Victoria; Toowoomba, Queensland,
- the Australian Law Reform Commission is relocating from Sydney to Brisbane (approximately 12 positions);
- Aboriginal Hostels Limited will create up to 40 positions in Brisbane, Rockhampton, Mackay, Townsville, Cairns, Thursday Island, Mount Isa, Darwin, Katherine, Alice Springs, Tennant Creek, Perth, Kalgoorlie, South Hedland, Broome and Derby;
- following creation of the new Australian Space Agency, it will establish its headquarters in Adelaide, relocating 20 positions