WHITE ELEPHANT: Jobs Queensland, based in the Ipswich Icon Tower, has created no jobs and has met with ridicule from the LNP.
WHITE ELEPHANT: Jobs Queensland, based in the Ipswich Icon Tower, has created no jobs and has met with ridicule from the LNP. David Nielsen

Jobs Queensland is a 'laughing stock': Bleijie

THE State Government's $40 million election promise to create jobs for Queenslanders now and in the future is struggling to get off the ground.

Jobs Queensland, based out of the Ipswich Icon Tower, promised to be an independent organisation consulting with key stakeholders and private industry leaders on priorities for emerging skills and future jobs.

But since its formation, the organisation has consulted more with other government advisory bodies than commercial organisations, based on the government's own admissions.

In the 18 months since the election the organisation has created nine internal jobs, held six meetings and appointed a Chairperson.

An Interim Reference Group is still babysitting Jobs Queensland, although applications for board positions closed on July 18 and are currently being considered.

The progress is a far cry from the government's statement in January that by March ten Jobs Queensland staff and a board would be set up in Ipswich, with more positions on the way - heralded as an example of the government's commitment to decentralise the public service.

Since the Jobs Queensland legislation passed the parliament in November, $850,000, of the $40 million allocated over four years has been spent purely on setting up the organisation.

During parliament estimates hearings this week, Training and Skills Minister Yvette D'Ath said that money was used for staffing and operational costs including accommodation.

The minister also came under fire from the LNP opposition in that hearing for 'handpicking' Jobs Queensland chair Rachel Hunter outside the 'merit-based' process promised for all appointments under this government. There is no argument, however, from the opposition that Ms Hunter, a former director under the Bligh Government, is not qualified for the job.

Jobs Queensland was one of the government's major commitments under the 'Jobs, jobs, jobs' stance it took to the election.

Voters went to the polls amid a significant mining downturn and the end of one of the state's biggest construction projects; the LNG gas plants in Gladstone which employed more than 25,000 people.

Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show across the state, 4900 people lost their job in the June quarter - the fifth consecutive drop in employment figures.

While Jobs Queensland hasn't actually created any jobs, the government has rejected claims Jobs Queensland, designed as an advisory organisation, has achieved nothing since formation.

A spokesperson for the minister cited collaboration with other government departments and providing advice on the Queens Wharf Development as some of the body's major achievements. The government also says Jobs Queensland is looking at a range of Advance Queensland projects in manufacturing, biofutures, biotechnology, aerospace, defence and biomedical fields.

"Jobs Queensland is working closely with Advance Queensland to provide input into the Queensland Government's Industry Roadmaps," a spokesperson for Minister D'Ath said.

The opposition, who had a similar initiative while in government called the Ministerial Industry Commission, has labelled the initiative a banner for "a bunch of highly-paid bureaucrats to sit around Ipswich and think about the best way to move forward".

"Labor's Jobs Queensland has become a white elephant and a laughing stock within the business community," Shadow Skills and Training Minister Jarrod Bleijie said.

When the LNP was in power its Ministerial Industry Commission consulted with 20 of the state's largest businesses and subsequently tabled a report to the then Education Minister within four months. Ten months later the LNP was voted out of government.

Minister D'Ath's office did not provide a comment on whether she was satisfied with the organisation's progress. The QT has requested an interview with Ms Hunter.

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