NEW FIGURES: Hervey Bay ranks in the top five highest areas in Queensland by postcode for the number of Newstart recipients, but hope is on the horizon.
NEW FIGURES: Hervey Bay ranks in the top five highest areas in Queensland by postcode for the number of Newstart recipients, but hope is on the horizon. Lauren Smit

Development to help fix Hervey Bay's dismal dole rating

TWO regional Queensland cities have more people on the dole than any other area in Australia, but one Federal MP says some people are snubbing the work available.

The Queensland economic divide is starkly clear in new figures that show regional cities taking out the top five areas for the sheer number of people on the dole.

A breakdown by postcode shows Bundaberg has 4465 people taking unemployment benefits - more than any other postcode in the country. Second in the country was Cairns, postcode 4870, which had more than 4353 dole recipients, followed by Liverpool near Sydney which had a similar amount of people access the Newstart allowance.

Parts of Toowoomba, Hervey Bay and Mackay rounded out the five highest areas in Queensland by postcode for the number of Newstart recipients. It comes from the most recent Department of Social Services figures, covering the December 2016 quarter.

Hervey Bay Chamber of Commerce president Sandra Holebrook said there was definitely hope for those looking for employment, with opportunities for work in aged care and disability services just on the horizon.

She predicted that in two to three years as the NDIS came to the Fraser Coast, there would be strong growth in jobs in the region.

Ms Holebrook said between Premier Health Care and Ozcare there would be up to 600 new jobs and about 1500 as a result of the NDIS.

She said it was likely every training agency in town was focussing on preparing unemployed jobseekers so they could take advantage of the positions when they became available.

Fraser Coast councillor Denis Chapman agreed, saying the council was focussed on encouraging development and employment.

"We've got to get to the point where the community is sustainable.”

He said the promise of new aged-care facilities would boost employment prospects.

"We need things like that to build our economy,” he said.

Mr Chapman said he knew there was some concern that the Fraser Coast would "grow too quick”.

"But we've got to grow to give our people jobs,” he said.

Leichhardt MP Warren Entsch, whose electorate includes Cairns, said the city had been through tough times since the global financial crisis, but the situation was turning around.

"There's no shortage of jobs, just a shortage of people that are prepared to take them,” Mr Entsch said.

"The reality is there are jobs out there, they may not be their dream job, but it's a bloody job.”

Mr Entsch, whose first job was cleaning toilets at a railway station, said there were jobs in fruit picking, milking sheds and even cafes that were being snubbed by Australians.

There have been reports the government is moving to crack down on welfare recipients who skip job interviews or work-for-the-dole commitments without losing payments.

Hinkler MP Keith Pitt, whose electorate includes Bundaberg and Hervey Bay, said the region had suffered from repeated floods, in 2010 and 2013, which had devastated small and medium businesses.

"The rate is unacceptably high, we're acutely aware of the challenge, but we need everyone on board to deal with it, state, local and federal,” Mr Pitt said.

"These are the things which show why we need decentralisation. It's the equivalent of injecting a new sugar industry.”



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