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Whitsunday Regional Council is calling on the State and Federal Governments to prioritise the economic development of the Whitsunday Region, following the decision by Glencore to terminate operations and cut 18 jobs at the Bowen Coke Works.
Mayor Andrew Willcox said the Whitsunday Region is experiencing an unemployment crisis.
“The closure of the Bowen Coke Works will result in the loss of 18 local jobs, and that’s just devastating for those workers and their families and is another hit for our community,” Cr Willcox said.
“Just before Christmas, Glencore made the decision to cut 180 jobs at its Collinsville mine, and then a few weeks later, the administrators of the Hillside Haven nursing home announced that the facility was closing and 19 jobs were being terminated,” he said.
“Enough is enough; with an unemployment rate of 10.6 per cent, the Whitsunday Region now has the largest unemployment rate of any non-Indigenous local government in Queensland, and it needs to be addressed.”
Mayor Willcox said he would be seeking a meeting with the Minister for State Development, Dr Anthony Lynham MP, in the coming weeks to discuss economic development and job creation opportunities in the Whitsunday Region.
“Along with Council’s Chief Executive Officer, I plan to fly to Brisbane in the coming weeks to discuss our local unemployment crisis with Minister Lynham and request funding so that Council can employ an Economic Development specialist to drive the development of an Economic Development Strategy,” Cr Willcox said.
“Council recently resolved to engage a specialist consultant to work with us in developing a region-wide Economic Development Strategy, and I will seeking to secure State Government funding to assist with that process,” he said.
“I will also be lobbying for Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and her Working Queensland Cabinet Committee to visit the region and meet with Council and local business and industry leaders to discuss local projects and opportunities for future economic growth and employment.
“Earlier in the year, the Premier and her Working Queensland Cabinet Committee flew up to Townsville after job losses were announced at the Yabulu nickel refinery, and they also visited Mackay in March, and I expect the State Government to show the Whitsunday community the same level of support.”