Shorten slams LNP over CQ job shortages

MINING jobs may be going down, and infrastructure spending may be lacking, but Federal Leader of the Opposition Bill Shorten believes no one should have to leave their region for work or services.

In Rockhampton yesterday, Mr Shorten spoke at length about the mining and agricultural industries, and said infrastructure and jobs were also on his priorities list.

"People should be able to grow up and to live their lives in Central Queensland and not have to go elsewhere to find vital work and vital services," he said.

"My heart goes out to the increased number of unemployed people as we've seen the mining industry contract."

Mr Shorten said casualisation of local workforces was also a concern.

"Well first of all, the mining industry is experiencing a real global turndown," he said.

"Commodity prices are falling.

"One of the big issues that I've seen… is their concern about casualization in the local workforces.

"We absolutely see a strong future for our resources."

When asked about the Rookwood and Eden Bann weirs, Mr Shorten said he acknowledged there was a water storage need.

"There's no doubt that we need to have greater water storage in the region," he said. "There hasn't been a lot of money spent on infrastructure in this part of the world in the last two-and-a-half years.

"There is no doubt in my mind that everyone knows, and has known for a couple of years, that the mining boom is coming to an end, but where are the new jobs that are replacing it?

"The (Federal Government) in my opinion has an obligation to help send some money for productivity (and) industry building jobs."

Agriculture and training also remain on Mr Shorten's priority list, and he said as the mining downturn continued, more emphasis would be placed on agriculture.

Rockhampton-based LNP Senator Matt Canavan yesterday said he wanted an answer from Mr Shorten over his support (or otherwise) of the Abbot Point expansion.

"He cannot be allowed to duck this issue," Mr Canavan said.

"When his deputy, Tanya Plibersek, was acting opposition leader over the Christmas break, she was asked directly if she supported further development of the Abbot Point coal shipping terminal. She refused to support it.

"Now that he's back from holidays, Mr Shorten should say exactly what the Labor Party's policy is on Abbot Point."

When asked about the expansion yesterday, Mr Shorten said Labor based decisions on facts when it came to the viability of projects, but did not give a straight answer to questions of whether he supported it.

"Well there's a lot of people that say it is (viable), but some environmentalists who have a different opinion," he said.

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