19 April 2016

One of the many great things about being married to my wife Chloe is that she’s a proud Queenslander and I get to spend so much time in the Sunshine State.

It also means that it’s easy to decide who to support during Origin time.

I get that the great state of Queensland is more than Brisbane and the southeast. Everywhere I go – from the suburbs of Brisbane to the regions and the reef – I hear the same message: that the Liberal National Party is taking Queensland for granted.

Queenslanders are telling me that they are worried about jobs. Not just their job security, but the job opportunities for their kids as economic change gathers pace.

We’ve seen the devastating loss of jobs in the Townsville region with the closure of the Queensland Nickel refinery and the impact that has had on the state.

Labor has and will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with these workers. They are dedicated, highly skilled Australians facing significant anxiety due to the actions and decisions of Queensland Nickel’s senior management.

It’s just not good enough. Unfortunately this is an all too familiar story.

The most recent jobs figures show Queensland saw the largest month-to-month increase in unemployment – jumping to 6.1 per cent. Young people and Queenslanders in the regions are doing it particularly tough.

For a Labor Government, jobs will always be a top priority. This is why we have outlined fully funded plans, not just for Brisbane, but for the regions to help create and maintain good jobs.

Only Labor has real policies for jobs: revitalising advanced manufacturing, investing in defence and renewables and getting important nationbuilding projects underway.

Labor’s plan for better public transport and roads means we can turbocharge growth and give our cities, suburbs and regions the infrastructure we need for the future.

Brisbane’s Cross River Rail is an essential project for boosting capacity, enhancing productivity and easing congestion with a second connection to the CBD.

We’ve committed to finishing the second phase of the Light Rail on the Gold Coast, a very successful project, in time for the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

Labor will speed up the planning work on the Ipswich Motorway, from Darra to Rocklea, unclogging one of the busiest stretches of road in Queensland.

Just as we will fast-track the Pacific and Bruce Highway packages to deliver thousands of jobs.

Queenslanders deserve a public transport system of the highest quality, so people spend less time stuck in traffic to and from work.

Community infrastructure is also critical to local economies, particularly for helping our regions grow and thrive. This is why I have committed funds for a new Townsville stadium which will create more than 700 jobs in the region.

Choosing to live in the regions shouldn’t mean settling for second-rate opportunities.

Labor will ensure Queensland’s regions are strong and get the same properly funded hospitals, schools, TAFE and universities as the big cities.

Already, Malcolm Turnbull and the LNP have cut $10.7 billion from Queensland hospitals and $6.2 billion from schools.

Now he’s talking about going even further and cutting every dollar from every public school in Queensland.

Only Labor will drive economic growth and secure the jobs of the future by properly funding every Australian school.

I believe every child, in every school deserves every opportunity for a great education.

This is why Labor’s Your Child, Our Future policy will lock in Gonski levels of needsbased funding for the next 10 years.

Labor will not slug students with $100,000 degrees which would lock working and middle class kids out of university. We will back public TAFE, so young people and mature workers can learn new skills for good jobs.

Queenslanders are rightly frustrated that the Liberals protect the big banks but attack the things they rely on, like penalty rates, schools and Medicare. Labor will always protect Medicare and properly fund our hospitals because we believe in an Australia where your Medicare card, not your credit card, guarantees the healthcare you need. Only Labor will put the great Australian dream of home ownership back in reach of working and middle class families, who have been priced out of the market by property speculators for too long.

Queenslanders can count on Labor to create jobs, stand up for universal healthcare and invest in education.

Labor’s positive plans for Queensland will put people first.

This opinion piece was first published in the Courier Mail on Tuesday, 19 April 2016