Shadow Treasurer and Member for Mulgrave, Curtis Pitt, says Small Business Minister, Jann Stuckey, needs to tell Far North Queenslanders how high she expects the state’s unemployment rate to rise and what “ripple effects” her own government’s mass sackings are having on the regional economy.

“Already unemployment in Far North Queensland hit 9.7% in September compared with 6.4% in September last year,” Mr Pitt said.

“As a Minister in a key economic portfolio it is up to Ms Stuckey when she jets in and out of Cairns to tell locals how the LNP plans to meet its election promise of 4% unemployment when others in her party suggest the jobless rate could skyrocket to 8.5%.

“Most people know the Newman Government’s mass sackings and savage cuts to frontline services are to blame for the spike in unemployment we have seen so far under the LNP, and that its first State Budget took away more than it gave to regional economies.

“The tens of thousands of people who have been sacked by the LNP and those whose jobs are under threat will be drastically cutting back on their spending. They are the families right across Queensland who will not be renovating their homes, buying new cars or taking holidays in the Far North.

“All that will flow through to local shops, tradies and tourism operators so it is imperative Ms Stuckey explains how the Newman Government plans to meet its 4% jobless target.

“After just six months in office the Newman Government has seen Queensland’s unemployment rate return to the highs not experienced since the global financial crisis.

“The state’s jobless rate hit 6.3% in September — up from 5.5% in March and well into figures not seen since the GFC.

“There are now around 19,500 more people unemployed in Queensland than there were in March and almost 21,000 jobs were lost between the months of August and September.

“Queensland’s unemployment has not been helped by the fact the Newman Government has sacked 14,000 government workers and also slashed funding to hundreds of frontline organisations providing jobs in the non-government sector.”

Mr Pitt said there were reliable reports earlier this month from within the LNP party room that senior LNP MPs believe the state’s jobless rate could go as high as 8.5%.

“Ms Stuckey needs to explain what that would mean for small business operators in our region,” he said.

“The cloud of uncertainty created by her own government’s mass sackings will be having a negative impact on regional and local economies as government workers shut their wallets and cheque books and put away their credit cards,” Mr Pitt said.