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Zero spent on $30 million Bowen Basin jobs package

ON HOLD: CQ is yet to see a cent from a $30 million regional jobs package announced last year.
ON HOLD: CQ is yet to see a cent from a $30 million regional jobs package announced last year. Contributed

CENTRAL Queensland is yet to see a cent from a $30 million Bowen Basin jobs package announced by Regional Development Minister Fiona Nash last year.

The package, one of 10 pilot programs supposed to take place across Australia, was announced in June and widely promoted by central Queensland Coalition MPs during the 2016 election.

It was designed to promote local jobs by providing matched funding for business innovation grants, upgrades to local infrastructure and targeted skills and training programs to address regional skills shortages.

But the funds have been rolled over into this year's budget as the program is yet to identify any projects worth funding.

A planning committee was formed in February, with former Gladstone Regional Council CEO Graeme Kanofski appointed chair.

Six other prominent community members were chosen to make up the committee, which was tasked with developing a Local Investment Plan to identify the sectors the local economy most likely to create jobs with the funding.

The committee is understood to have completed its work, and the Federal Government's business.gov.au website lists the status of the investment package as open - but applications for funding are still not being accepted.

The government's announcement of the fund in June 2016 stated infrastructure upgrades were included in the package "to generate immediate local employment".

The date at which applications are set to open is yet to be determined, according to the website.

A spokesperson from Flynn MP Ken O'Dowd's office said the package was progressing and would begin delivering funds in the 2017-18 financial year.

"This hasn't been as quickly as Mr O'Dowd would have liked but there are always processes to go through to spend such significant amounts of money," the spokesperson said.

"The committee tasked with setting the terms of reference for the package has completed its work and now the fund appears in the budget we look forward to putting the $30 million to work soon."

ALP Senator for Queensland Chris Ketter said the rollout of the program was "absolutely shameful".

"The LNP's much-touted regional jobs and investment package has not delivered one job for people in central Queensland," he said.

"Not one dollar has been spent, not one brick has been laid and not one business has been boosted.

"People in central Queensland deserve better."

Topics:  bowen basin jobs package


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