Sep 2020

Katter backs 'gap year' proposal to protect vital industries

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KENNEDY MP, Bob Katter is backing a proposal that would incentivise school leavers and university students into completing an 18-month gap year of work in essential industries that are experiencing worker shortages, such as meat processing, fruit picking, butchers, hospitality, tourism and mining.

Mr Katter has written to the Federal Employment Minister and Treasurer advocating that the Government subsidise a small portion of gap year workers’ wages, and that gap year participants receive a $20,000 benefit through a forced savings plan.

“The Government’s response to Covid-19, whether good or bad, has left us with a serious lack of willing-workers in north Queensland which is impacting industries that hold our communities together,” Mr Katter said.

“Under normal circumstances, the backpackers comprise 50 per cent of the fruitpickers in north Queensland which is a region that produces 20 percent of Australia’s fruit and vegetable supply. But due to border closures, the number of backpackers available is dwindling by the week.

“In the mining and meat processing industries a lot of workers have left the game due to the inflated level of Government welfare payments (JobSeeker).

There’s no great guarantee that any will be coming back into the workforce – although to the Federal Government’s credit they are beginning to scale down the payments.”

Mr Katter revealed his support for the gap year proposal at a press conference in Cairns alongside Rhett Pike, graduating year 12 student from far north Queensland, and Darcy Byrne, the owner of local butcher shop, Brynes Meats, who has been struggling to attract workers.

Mr Katter said the gap year would have untold benefits for the participants.

“The life experience of doing physical work is invaluable and immeasurable,” he said.

“Graduating year 12 students and university students will be able to take up work for 18 months. To make this worthwhile, a gap year participant will have a benefit of $20,000 in his bank account at the end of the 18 months.

“The cost to the taxpayers is very small because these people would have been getting government welfare or government assistance at university anyway.

“In the process, the government saves our vital industries and there will be significant social benefits for the towns where the workers will be based - especially for the rugby league and netball teams, the pubs and the small business owners.”

Contact Details

P: (07) 4061 6066
F: (07) 4061 6566
Visit: Cnr Edith and Owen St
Post: PO Box 1638
Innisfail, Qld 4860

Mount Isa
P: (07) 4743 3534
F: (07) 4743 0189
Visit: 42-44 Simpson St
Post: PO Box 2130
Mount Isa, Qld 4825

(when Parliament is sitting)
P: (02) 6277 4978
F: (02) 6277 8558

Local Call within the electorate
P: 1300 301 942

Email: Bob.Katter.MP@aph.gov.au