Shadow Treasurer and Shadow Minister for Employment Curtis Pitt said new ABS data released today showed that the youth unemployment rate in Cairns has doubled since Campbell Newman was elected Premier in 2012.

“Our kids are really suffering from a lack of opportunity under this Government,” Mr Pitt said.

“The youth unemployment rate for Cairns in March 2012 was 11% and in March 2014, youth unemployment now sits at 21.8%. That’s a completely unacceptable outcome from an LNP Government that promised to drive down unemployment.

“There are an additional 1,620 young people aged between 15 and 24 who are out of work in the Cairns region since the election.

“This is a crisis that not only affects our economy now, but has dire consequences for the future of our region.

“This hasn’t been helped by soaring TAFE fees which in many cases is pricing many of our young people out of studying for the qualifications they need. The Newman Government has no understanding of what ordinary people can afford and no understanding either of the value of Queensland’s TAFE institutions to the communities they serve.”

[singlepic id=572 w=320 h=240 float=left] Mr Pitt said the former Labor Government’s Skilling Queenslanders for Work initiative – which was axed by the Newman LNP Government – assisted around 26,000 Queenslanders each year including many young people in our region.

“An independent evaluation from Deloitte Access Economics found that the Skilling Queenslanders for Work assisted Queenslanders to gain more skills and increase their employability.

“Twelve months after receiving assistance, over two-thirds of Skilling Queenslanders for Work participants were in employment or further training.

“The Skilling Queenslanders for Work program was delivering a greater return to the state through increased tax receipts from employment growth than it cost to run, returning nearly $8 for each $1 invested.”

Mr Pitt said the total unemployment rate has also increased from 7.9% two years ago to 8.2% in March 2014 (year ending terms).

“Campbell Newman promised to lower the statewide unemployment rate to 4%, but right now it sits at 6.1%,” he said.

“In the Far North, we’re really feeling that increase. Having a local unemployment rate of 8.2% means many families will be struggling to make ends meet.

“Campbell Newman’s lack of focus on job creation not only hurts families, but it also hurts small businesses and the broader local economy in general.

“While his Treasurer spends $6 million on a blatant PR campaign to scare Queenslanders into supporting the asset sales they don’t want, the LNP has cut job creation programs that could be having a real impact in our community.

“What Queenslanders want is more jobs and services and a stronger economy – not more cuts and more asset sales.”

“Labor believes that creating jobs should be the number one economic priority for Queensland.”