Treasurer Cameron Dick
Treasurer Cameron Dick

Queenslanders want real jobs not glossy brochures

When former Jackie Trad stood up in April to announce the "first major element" of the Palaszczuk Government's worker's assistance package, the path through COVID looked dire.

Treasury were forecasting 272,000 Queenslanders would be on the dole queue by June 30 - with a state unemployment rate of around 10 per cent.

Queensland Health were planning for one million people to be infected and warned at least 30,000 would die if the virus wasn't contained.

Former deputy premier and treasurer Jackie Trad. Picture: Jack Tran
Former deputy premier and treasurer Jackie Trad. Picture: Jack Tran

We had no idea how long we'd be working from home and people were losing their jobs left right and centre, particularly in the travel and hospitality sectors.

This is perhaps why the state government felt it would be a good idea to come up with its JobsFinder website - a place where a newly unemployed barista could go to link up with a job in the retail sector, which was putting people on as panic buying toilet paper became a national sport.

And it also made sense to promote an online training hub where those unexpectedly laid off could go to look into retraining for a new industry with a short-term TAFE degree.

Remember, as the virus spread across the globe there was a feeling that scuba diver instructors and wait staff wouldn't be needed for quite some time and the need to re-skill was being sold to retrenched workers.

But the Government's idea to ultimately pay job recruiters to match up job ads with unemployed workers always seemed like unnecessary bureaucracy - the creation of a middle man when one wasn't needed.

After all, if you're looking for a job, surely you know to check the jobs ads.

Under the policy, private sector recruiters were paid $350 for every person they put in a job, the money paid out once they had completed 40 hours of paid work.

Turns out it was an absolute waste of time to match too many unemployed people with too few jobs in the middle of a recession.

Not only didn't it create jobs, it didn't even find jobs.

Despite the government crowing about finding 500 people of the 15,000 people work through the program - a dismal rate by anyone's standards - it turns out the reality was far worse.

On closer inspection, just 76 people got a job through this program, which cost taxpayers $431,000 to set up and administer.

It will only be dismantled at the end of this month, despite the fact that someone somewhere surely could see this program was a stinker months and months ago. The numbers don't lie.

Sure, this is just one aspect of the government's COVID response, and measures like waiving and delaying payroll tax have been welcomed by businesses.

But it is a perfect example of how the Palaszczuk Government has been more interested in looking like it is doing something, rather than doing something.

The latest jobs figures show Queensland is still stuck with the second highest unemployment rate in the nation at 7.7 per cent. There are about 211,900 people looking for work.

For some reason, the economy has not responded to Treasurer Cameron Dick's shiny economic plan he's been so fond of carrying around.

Despite that document accomplishing what it was created to accomplish - that is to convince the electorate that Labor had an economic plan to deal with the COVID recession - it turns out that the economy needs more than just spin.

Treasurer Cameron Dick. Picture: Annette Dew
Treasurer Cameron Dick. Picture: Annette Dew

Now that the pamphlet has served its political purpose, it's well and truly time to bin it and for the government to actually come up with a real economic response.

The private sector have been coming up with ideas for months - review taxes and charges, look at new ways to attract investment, investigate how to work better with the private sector to build jobs-creating infrastructure.

There are global investors combing the globe for safe places to stash their money. COVID-free Queensland should be a no-brainer.

Yet Treasurer Cameron Dick (inset) has, for months, slapped down any questions from the media on whether it had an appetite for bold visionary ideas or reform.

Queensland has come through COVID relatively unscathed from a health perspective.

It's got four years now to recover and grow Queensland's economy.

It must have some courage, otherwise, what's the point of winning government?

Originally published as Queenslanders want real jobs not glossy brochures

The government’s JobsFinder portal only found 76 people a new job. Picture: iStock
The government’s JobsFinder portal only found 76 people a new job. Picture: iStock