Mackay & Rockhampton

I’ve been travelling for the last few days, visiting Mackay and Rockhampton in Central Queensland. Trying to cover the whole state of Queensland is a tall ask, but I try to squeeze in meetings with as many groups and people as possible when I do visit a place.

The biggest issue on these visits has been housing affordability and availability. This is atrociously bad in this region, especially in Mackay. From what one person who came to meet with me in Mackay said, it’s even worse inland in the mining towns like Moranbah.

As well as people working in the area of housing, I also met with people from Chambers of Commerce and others from multicultural groups. Business development, migration and housing opportunities all intertwine, so the housing issue kept coming up in almost every meeting I had.

It looks like the housing affordability crisis is finally getting some political attention at federal level, which is a good thing. However, it is important that any package of solutions take into account the different nature of the problem in regional cities. A ‘solution’ that helps in western Sydney or Brisbane may not help much at all in central Queensland – it could even make things worse, depending on what the ‘solution’ is.

The growing number of migrants to these areas presents both a risk and an opportunity. It obviously puts stress on housing availability, although the people coming to the area are doing so to meet a strong employment demand, especially in skilled positions. Doing more to provide the necessary infrastructure for people in these regional cities is an essential part of filling the labour market shortages, as well as providing one way of encouraging people out of the overburdened south-east corner of Queensland and into other parts of the state.

The majority of migrants helping to fill those skill shortages are coming on long-term temporary visas. Unfortunately, most of our assistance programs for migrants only apply for people on permanent visas. This means many migrants do not get the sort of basic initial support that can assist them to quickly and effectively connect with the wider community. I think it is time the nature of our settlement assistance changed to recognise the very different nature of migration, compared to even five years ago. A small extra investment in assisting people when they first arrive can significantly improve their contribution to our communities and will pay significant dividends to Australia over time.

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4 Comments

  1. Whilst I accept what you say Senator as important and real and obviously necessary,I remember Coral s problem of qualifications as much as my own.I have seen the need for physiotherapists come and go under Labor and Liberals, and I am hopping mad still about how the professional classes,just exclude others already here, by the costs of education,and, their non-legitimate apathy..for we have enough middle class professional now to achieve better results right across all issues and including this subject.If these bludging apathetic qualified professionals arent more active in this election to come..I think we have to penalise them in a manner that the middle class refuse to accept.It is really their now,overworked bludging that hasnt put a dent in the liberal political body armour..because they are so easy to buy-off.They indulge in moving around like American Indians in increasing over-valued housing,until their little worlds collapse and sell the property.Shame on them.Eh!Its winter,I am a little down,and I found further moving of the house foundations recently.

  2. The nursing home had an excellent Clinical Nurse whose husband was one of the Physiotherapists (also a qualified paramedic). Being Scottish, they spoke excellent English, but their visas expired and they had to go back.

    The only things preventing me from holding down a reasonably well paid job are the combination of an upper limb disability, sole responsibility for a child, and my mother being in a nursing home.

    I could possibly teach English to speakers of other languages, or do some counselling work, but most of these jobs are unpaid and require enrolment in paid courses for which I would expect the Commonwealth to pay – having been injured in their workplace.

    Chin up, Phil. We may argue sometimes, but we are your friends.

  3. I had the unfortunate experience,of listening to a report from the University Of New England making all sorts of comparisons between immigrants and Australians.And when I hear this stuff, I honestly go the other way,and feel cheated completely.My father was a second generation Australian,by God!?I can hear myself screaming at the top of my lungs!I havent got a racist bone in my body,accept sometimes when it comes to educated Poms and Scots and Irish..sometimes!I couldnt give a shit about migrants setting up businesses and creating wealth,unless of course,they are likeable human beings! Being likeable to me isnt being charitable,agreeing with me on all things or anything,agreeing to disagree and a hundred or so ways to need want or not need or want friendship. It is a certain quality that grows on me,not forced to grow on me. So I couldnt really see the point of this research,more so, because the only real reason proffered for the research was the mention of ghettos of down-trodden migrants.So they did this research to show that wasnt the case,and the research tends to show,they are more educated, healthier, richer than Australians.S…….h…..i…….t……I forgot Bloody New Zealanders.Sorry Senator,I am a loser while the fully imported stock of humanity is doing so much for Australia in so many ways, that some of the employers I had when I was younger,second and first generation Australians,must wonder wether the hernias were worth it. And the featherbedded rail workers,that a young Piers Ackerman derided, of southern European descent, must wonder sometimes..why University educated people keep on being offensive to them. And I see my father out in the hot sun of the sixties with a sledgehammer coming over his shoulder banging in a thing called a dogspike into the side of the rail..and I cry for him as much as for myself..Shut….Up.

  4. Andrew Bartlett:
    Sorry I missed hearing about your visit to Central Queensland. Never mind, you’ve worked pretty hard and you do stand up for unfashionable causes so you’ve got my vote anyway.

    The so-called “skills shortage” is 110% artificial.

    It would disappear overnight once a stiff across-the-board Bludger Tax was imposed on firms and organizations that demand unnecessary or inappropriate qualifications or that discriminate on the basis of age, place of residence [postcoding], ethnicity, previous occupation or militsry service, etc. [And yes, I do think the Human Rights And Equal Opportunity Commission as well as the Anti-Discrimination Commission are worse than useless].

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