Prime Minister Scott Morrison has moved the debate on creating more jobs across the country up a notch by announcing that 450,000 of the 1.3 million jobs the federal government says it wants to be created in five years will be in regional Australia.
Morrison made that announcement during a press conference while also highlighting the $250 assistance payment that will be received by several million Australians as a one-off payment to assist with costs of living.
“Under Labor, we saw a 40% increase in unemployment in our regions. Under the Liberals, we have seen a more than 20% fall in unemployment in our regions,” Morrison said.
“That’s a difference. We had to do that through a period of drought, floods, fires, pandemic, mice plague, and we have been cutting unemployment in regional areas.”
Morrison emphasised a need for people living in the regions and the cities to get the same kinds of economic opportunities.
“Our economic plan is backing our regions to grow even more, and creating hundreds of thousands of jobs, with more than $21 billion in the budget being invested into developing Australia’s regions,” Morrison said.
“This includes job-creating investments, including $7.1 billion for our Energy Security Regional Development Plan, $2 billion for our Regional Accelerator Program to drive growth and productivity in regional areas, and $1.3 billion for regional telecommunications.”
Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce said the government’s plans were designed to make the regions “an even better place to live and work”.
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“Our regions are the powerhouse of our economy, the source of around two-thirds of our export income, and the reason we can pay for so much of our health care, education, roads, rail and more. This is why we must invest in them,” Joyce said.
The announcement of a 450,000 jobs target for regional Australia came a day after the federal opposition’s announcement of a revised scheme to boost the number of seasonal workers who can come to Australia from Pacific countries to assist farmers with harvesting.
Details of the scheme proposed by the ALP include having the travel costs of workers coming to Australia be met by the federal government so farmers needing labourers have no need to pay travel expenses.
Workers coming in for seasonal work from the region would also be permitted to bring family members to live and work in Australia.
This article was first published by The Mandarin.