LOCAL JOBS PROMISED: Jim McDonald, Deb Frecklington, Rock Trade Industries' Allan Payne, Tim Nicholls and Terry Smith discuss the Buy Local Policy in Helidon.
LOCAL JOBS PROMISED: Jim McDonald, Deb Frecklington, Rock Trade Industries' Allan Payne, Tim Nicholls and Terry Smith discuss the Buy Local Policy in Helidon. Francis Wiysenhuysen

Jobs hot on campaign trail agenda as MPs go country

AS THE pre-election campaign ramps up the region proved a popular stop this week to talk local employment schemes.

Opposition Leader Tim Nicholls made an appearance at Helidon on Monday to discuss the LNP's newly-announced Buy Local policy, while Employment Minister Grace Grace visited Esk the same day promoting the Palaszczuk government's Back to Work employment program.

Mr Nicholls said their policy would make regional businesses such as Helidon-based Rock Trade Industries more competitive when tendering for government contracts, therefore creating more local jobs.

"I want to see more local jobs and our policy will deliver,” Mr Nicholls said.

"If they can meet the quality specifications and the service they'll get the last bid in order to be able to provide local jobs in their local community.”

Trade Rock Industries Owner Allan Payne said he, along with many other regional businesses owners, just wanted a fair go from government when it came to securing projects, especially contracts in their own backyard.

"We've won some of the work on the Toowoomba Range Crossing and it's been extremely hard and time consuming. It's very difficult to get a piece of the action,” Mr Payne said.

"Local people are competitive, so it's very good for this opportunity to keep the money local.”

Mr Nicholls denied suggestions that the new procurement policy was nearly identical to Labor's Buy Queensland policy, which came into effect earlier this month. Labor's Buy Queensland policy requires at least one local or regional supplier and one other Queensland- based business to be invited to quote or tender for every procurement opportunity.

The Buy Local policy would give local businesses with their headquarters in Queensland, with fewer than 200 staff, the opportunity to match the price for government projects valued at less than $100 million.

Mr Nicholls described the two as being "like chalk and cheese” because Buy Local would not offend any free trade agreements like the Buy Queensland policy.

Meanwhile at Esk Ms Grace called in to AJ's Barbers Shack and Hair Salon, which had been one of several businesses in the Somerset region to hire a job seeker through the government's Back to Work jobs program.

"Businesses often need that extra bit of confidence to take someone on board and this program is delivering that confidence in spades,” she said.

"This highly successful program has supported 7500 Queenslanders into jobs, including pending applications, and these numbers are growing by the day.”


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