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Facing 15 per cent jobless pain, regions to get bulk of spending

Politics

Some of Queensland’s regional cities are looking down the barrel of 15 per cent unemployment and the State Government has started to investigate an infrastructure strategy based on which regions were feeling the most acute economic pain from the COVID-19 shutdown.

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Treasurer Jackie Trad said the impact of the COVID-19 shutdown was going to be “terrible” in some regional places like Cairns, where the economy is dependent on tourism.

“It’s going to be terrible in southeast Queensland, but it’s a more diverse economy,” she said.

She said the Government was currently working through a strategy to rejuvenate the economy by delivering projects where the impact would be more acute, but she would not give a timetable on when the infrastructure funding would be announced.

Her comments came as official unemployment figures for Queensland showed the COVID-19 fallout had yet to hit the number of people in a job.

Markets were expecting a fall of about 30,000 jobs nationally, but the numbers lifted by almost 6000 and national figure was 5.2 per cent and Queensland’s trend unemployment was 5.7 per cent.

“The trend unemployment rate in Queensland is at its lowest rate since May 2012 on the back of a decline in participation,” Conus Consulting economist Pete Faulkner said.

However, the average hours worked per head of population fell to a record low in Queensland.

Faulkner believes the Sunshine Coast, Cairns and Townsville would be hit with unemployment rates above 15 per cent, while the Gold Coast is looking at about 38,000 job losses and an unemployment level later this year of more than 16 per cent.

Trad also said the Government had yet to decide on whether the Government would impose payroll tax on the JobKeeper subsidy but pointed out that the Federal Government would be treating the funding as taxable income.

The Government has been criticised by business over the issue but Trad said there were employers in different situations.

“Some are not operating at the levels they were but are still operating and getting an income and JobKeeper is a supplement,” she said.

“But there are others for which JobKeeper is a welfare payment.

“We don’t want to be taxing a welfare payment and we have to figure out if there is a different treatment we can apply.”

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