Member for Herbert Phillip Thompson. Picture: Alix Sweeney
Member for Herbert Phillip Thompson. Picture: Alix Sweeney

Jobless brigade grows as more losses expected

Federal Government JobSeeker and youth allowance data has revealed just how deep the pandemic has cut in North Queensland.

Described as "heartbreaking but not surprising", Townsville's May figures show a 66.3 per cent increase in the number of people claiming unemployment since December.The number of people claiming unemployment help from Centrelink in the federal electorate of Herbert between December 2019 and May 2020 climbed by almost 5000 and the number of people on youth allowance almost doubled.

These figures were mirrored in much of North Queensland, with the number of Kennedy residents claiming unemployment up about 5000 and youth allowance recipients rising from 1173 to 2047.

In Dawson, people claiming unemployment climbed from 5245 to 10,022 - about 2000 fewer than Herbert - and youth allowance claims rose from 679 to 1403.

The JobSeeker figures for Leichhardt, which encompasses Cairns, jumped from almost 9755 in December 2019 to 17,372 in May 2020 and the number of people on youth allowance almost doubled to 2280.

Labor Senator Murray Watt said the figures were heartbreaking, and it was clear the pandemic had hit North Queensland hard.

"Between now and Christmas another 240,000 Australians are expected to lose their jobs and Townsville won't be immune," he said.

"North Queenslanders already know jobs are going - they need to hear what the Morrison Government is going to do about it."

But Herbert MP Phillip Thompson said the Federal Government was doing everything it could to get people back to work.

"The numbers are ... concerning," he said.

"To make them better (we need to) back industry, back jobs getting started, get the economy going again."

Mr Thompson said one way to do this would be easing restrictions further in places like Townsville, which had remained coronavirus-free for almost four months.

He said several projects had been brought forward to create jobs and all three levels of government needed to work together to help the economy.

Originally published as Jobless brigade grows as more losses expected


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