What regional Australia needs from Jobs and Skills body – key recommendations

Sep 26, 2022

What regional Australia needs from Jobs and Skills body – key recommendations

Sep 26, 2022

THE Federal Government received a clear-cut reminder as to why regional and remote Australia
deserves a legislative voice in the proposed Jobs and Skills body with Kennedy MP Bob Katter
articulating North Queensland’s desperate workforce needs.

Mr Katter, with Independent Member for Indi, Helen Haines, advocated and supported an
amendment to the Government’s initial bill by adding an integral function to Jobs and Skills
Australia – to provide advice to the Minister in relation to skills and training and workforce needs in
regional, remote and rural Australia. The Jobs and Skills Australia Bill 2022 was passed in the House
of Representatives on Monday.

Mr Katter said the labour shortage in parts of Kennedy and the north had become so dire he was
preparing to meet the Minister for defence personnel and request the army be deployed to assist
industries such as sugar during an “emergency situation”.

“We have a shortage of 10 truck drivers that we simply cannot hire to take sugar cane from
Mareeba to the Mossman Mill,” Mr Katter said.

“And if we can’t find those drivers, then that cane will rot in the field and not only will the farmer
lose their income from that cane, but also have the cost of disposing that cane.

“Doctors – we’ve got no doctor at Mission Beach, we have no doctor at Julia Creek, we have no
doctor at Cardwell. We’re in a desperate situation at Innisfail with two of our leading medical
practices, that are not going to continue much longer.

“Roadhouses – I pulled over, dying of hunger, and we needed petrol in the car, but the roadhouses
were closed; they couldn’t get anyone to work there. Chemists, a lady came over to me in Mount
Isa (last week), desperate for chemists.”

Prior to the Jobs and Skills summit earlier this month, Mr Katter sought feedback and submissions
from his electorate and submitted a report with key recommendations representing the needs of

Mr Katter’s report recommended the Government incentivise work in regional and remote areas by
working with ACCC and all airlines to promote and encourage further marketplace competition to
reduce the price of airline tickets to remote areas.

His report also called on the government to address pay, housing and telecommunication shortfalls
in regional areas that acted as potential deterrents for prospective employees.

Mr Katter further recommended the Department of Employment revisit the challenges of the
Seasonal Worker Program under the PALM scheme to allow employers direct access to workers,
and speed up visa and processing waits.