When Member for Mount Isa, Rob Katter asked a simple question of the Deputy Premier in Parliament this week, he was bemused that Jeff Seeney did not know the meaning of the common economic term “underutilisation”.
Mr Katter asked the Deputy Premier to guarantee that all 25,000 new jobs in the Galilee Basin development would go to Australian workers, given the alarming underutilisation rate of 15.3% in Queensland.
A simple enough question, but Mr Seeney said he wasn’t familiar with the term “underutilisation rate”, which is defined by the Australian Bureau of Statistics as the sum of the number of people unemployed and the number underemployed, expressed as a proportion of the labour force.
So far, so staggering. The Deputy Premier then went on to say the number of jobs projected was 28,000, and he envisaged construction workers currently employed on the CSG-LNG projects on Curtis Island would vie for these jobs.
“It will require a large workforce—the sort of workforce that is currently completing a big construction task in Central Queensland for the LNG plants. If we look at that workforce in Central Queensland, they have come from all over the world to work here. They have come from all over Australia to work in that workforce, to build the infrastructure that will be necessary to export LNG—the energy that the world needs. So it will be with any major construction task anywhere in the world that people will see the opportunities and they will come and vie for those jobs.” [Hansard]
Mr Katter said that was the kind of rant he was accustomed to hearing in Parliament.
“The Deputy Premier avoided answering the question directly, saying workers from all over the world are already working on projects in Queensland, and they would be competing with Australians for these 28,000 jobs in the Galilee Basin.
“I would expect more of patriotic stand from the Deputy Premier of Queensland, more of an effort to ensure these jobs do go to Queensland, given our underutilisation rate of 15.3%.
“The Deputy Premier needs to get up to speed with both the underutilisation rate and the unemployment rate in Queensland, and put measures in place to ensure there are jobs for Queenslanders.”