Businesses urged to speak up
LOCAL business owners and representatives are being encouraged to meet their local MP and shadow minister for employment and small business later this month to discuss their futures as well as opportunities for training and employment in the region.
Member for Callide Colin Boyce is bringing shadow minister for employment and small business, training and skills development Fiona Simpson with him on a tour of the electorate from November 25-27.
Biloela businessman Tim Kessler, part-owner of Home Timber and Hardware, said he would be attending and hoped to ask about government policy and how it affected small towns like Biloela.
Mr Kessler said government policy seemed to be more southeast or coastal-centric, while regional areas suffered.
Mr Kessler said population numbers were declining because there was nothing to keep people in an area "because of the way government policies work”.
He said it was an issue that affected rural and remote areas throughout Queensland.
"An example is with the mining and contract labour and because people aren't living here they're not buying here, which definitely affects our business,” he said.
"If the population reduces, then government policy dictates that healthcare services are also reduced.”
Mr Kessler called for incentives and family-friendly work rosters, especially in the mining centre, to help keep employees in town.
"And at a federal level, they could shift the tax bracket for people in small towns,” he said.
"If you want people to live in the country, they need to be incentivised to do so.
"Government policy just needs to have a change and instead of spending it all on the southeast corner, give the rural communities a chance to thrive and survive by changing employment policies.”
Ahead of the tour, Mr Boyce said he believed small business was crucial to the economy of the state and he wanted Ms Simpson to meet with some of the electorate's businesspeople.
"It's an opportunity for people to meet Fiona and it's a chance for them to put forward their views on what they think should happen for the small business sector,” he said.
"We're on a listening exercise. One of the problems the small communities face is population decline and the decline of services and how we deal with those issues into the future.
"We're losing our young people - they're leaving school and don't come back so that affects us all.
"If you analyse the electorate of Callide, you have a lot of big industries and there are lots of people who get their employment in the electorate who don't live here.
"We're seeing this expand into local government, we see it in schools, the ambulance, so I think that's an issue.
"We'd rather have people come and live here and children go to school here. Then they start paying rates and contributing to the local economies - getting their car serviced and going to the local hairdresser.”
Mr Boyce said places like kindergartens were missing out on funding because they didn't have enough children enrolled to qualify.
"You have a lesser number of children but you still need the facilities,” he said.
He said it was now also vital to help others understand the benefits and joys of living in a small community, and urged regional towns to promote themselves.
"Many people don't understand how good it is to live in a small community,” he said.
"All of these small places are nice places to live.”
Mr Boyce said that if people were given an incentive such as a tax break or cheaper house loan, they could be encouraged to remain in a smaller town and experience the lifestyle it offered.
The tour will include Biloela on November 25; Mundubbera, Eidsvold, Monto and Gayndah on November 26; and Gin Gin, Biggenden and Coalstoun Lakes on November 27.
Tour bookings can be made to the Callide Electorate Office on 1800812119 or 4845 1100 or by email to callide@parliament. qld.gov.au.