The Bligh Government has announced it will bring forward $25 million in funds to boost employment in regional areas affected by the mining downturn, following crisis talks with unions and the Queensland Resources Council.
The accelerated funding, from the Sustainable Resource Communities (SRC) support package, was originally allocated for the 2009-10 financial year and will be earmarked for regional capital projects that provide maximum employment.
Premier Bligh has also announced a plan to send a mobile team of cross-agency representatives that will travel to affected areas to offer support to displaced workers, the establishment of a 1800 workers assistance helpline and a streamlined process for state government approvals of new mines.
A tripartite group comprising government, industry and union representatives will convene weekly to oversee a joint response to the effect of the current downturn on the industry, this will be chaired by Queensland Mines Minister Geoff Wilson.
“This week, we have begun to see the global financial crisis take hold of the Queensland economy,” Bligh said.
“These tough times mean all parties — government, industry and unions — have to pull together to secure the future of this important industry and to minimise the pain caused to families as a result of the downturn. “My focus right now is protecting Queensland jobs.
“We have seen more than 500 Queenslanders lose their jobs a week before Christmas, and they will not be the last.”
The $25 million in SRC funding will be allocated in consultation with regional councils and the Queensland Resources Council and prioritise projects that: are in locations where jobs are being lost; require the skills available as a result of job losses in the mining sector; and can be commenced and provide employment in 2008-09.
According to Bligh, the SRC is expected to generate more than 500 jobs over the next 12 months.
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