Senator Anthony Chisholm. Photographer: Liam Kidston.
Senator Anthony Chisholm. Photographer: Liam Kidston.

Why Labor Senator is opening up office in Gladstone

QUEENSLAND Labor Senator Anthony Chisholm will have a much more dominant presence in Gladstone, with the news he is opening an office on Goondoon Street.

One of three Labor senators for the state, Mr Chisholm, who looks after the area from Brisbane to Gladstone, said he looked forward to meeting constituents and taking up their issues in Canberra.

The biggest current issue he saw was the financial cliff facing many locals with the axing of JobKeeper payments for employees and businesses, and JobSeeker payments for the unemployed.

“Cancelling JobKeeper early could see almost $16.5 million ripped out of Flynn per fortnight,” Senator Chisholm said.

“We’re talking about thousands of businesses across Flynn, how many of them will fail if the LNP pulls the rug out from under them?

“How many jobs will be lost?”

According to Commonwealth Treasury data, more than 2800 businesses across the seat of Flynn, and more than 11,000 workers are receiving JobKeeper.

Senator Chisolm said ABS figures showed almost 10,000 jobs were lost across Central Queensland in April and May.

Businesses and workers were paid up to $1500 a fortnight via the JobKeeper payment to help sustain the workforce through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Unemployed people were paid an allowance of $550 per fortnight, in additional to their regular unemployment benefits.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the JobKeeper and JobSeeker payments would stop at the end of September.

Senator Chisholm said this would place extraordinary pressure on already stretched support services in Gladstone.

He said the added axing of JobSeeker payments for unemployed would only compound the problem.

“It’s the corner store, the fish and chip shop, the local grocery store that won’t continue to get that custom they have become used to,” he said.

“It will put extra pressure on thousands of already struggling small businesses in Gladstone and Flynn.”

Senator Chisholm met all Gladstone region councillors today and was briefed on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, plus the council’s plans moving into 2021 and beyond.

Senator Chisholm’s office will open in the next couple of weeks in the AWU building, which was formerly occupied by a pizza shop.