Fraser Coast Tourism & Events made a direct approach to the Minister for Tourism Industry Development Stirling Hinchliffe today appealing for the Government to broaden its “Work in Paradise” initiative to include all of the State.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has announced a $7.5m support package to encourage workers to seek jobs in North Queensland (Mackay north) and the Outback, with the Government offering a bonus of up to $1500 per worker and free travel for those willing to move.
The announcement was received with anger and disappointment from major operators on the Fraser Coast, concerned that they are facing the same issues as North Queensland but have missed out on support.
Many of our major operators are still not at capacity because of workforce shortages, with the SeaLink operations on K’gari-Fraser Island most affected. SeaLink currently has 76 vacancies – almost a quarter of its 340 staff.
We understand other resorts like Tangalooma on Moreton and Twin Waters on the Sunshine Coast are in a very similar position.
The long term vacancies are in the semi-skilled areas of food and beverage service, housekeeping and trades. Whale watching fleet operators gearing up for the 2021 season don’t have the same workforce demands, but the bulk applications from deck hands and tour hosts seeking work at this stage of the season has reduced to a trickle.
Operators believe the $1500 incentive plus free travel will be a double whammy for Fraser Coast businesses, because not only will workforce shortages continue, they will lose staff to the north and west because of the uneven government support.
It is bitter pill for the Fraser Coast which has seen other regions benefit from holiday dollars and broad-ranging aviation incentives. The region has never complained, preferring to continue to work hard as a resilient region with a capable industry, not wanting to be continually putting our hand out to the Government.
It seems we are now a victim of our determination to keep going in the best “Queenslander” tradition.
Today’s announcement is desperately unfair on this region and we have asked the Minister for a response on why we have been overlooked – and more importantly, how we can be included.