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Qld govt defends high unemployment rate

Queensland Treasurer Cameron Dick insists the state is on the road to recovery after the jobless rate became the highest in the country.

The state’s unemployment rate rose to 7.7 per cent in September, from 7.5 per cent in August, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

That’s higher than 6.9 per cent nationally and 6.7 per cent in Victoria, which has been in and out of coronavirus lockdowns.

An extra 32,200 Queenslanders found work in the month, but 11,100 lost their jobs, taking the total number of unemployed to 209,000.

Treasurer Cameron Dick says the state is creating more jobs than it’s losing.

“Queensland in that one-month period created 1000 jobs a day … created 32,000 jobs in one month, while the rest of Australia lost 23,000 jobs,” he said.

Mr Dick said JobKeeper is distorting the data with a higher proportion of workers in other states receiving the payments, and being counted as employed.

“There are people working zero hours a week, but they’re not taken into account,” he said.

“So we’re still on the path to recovery in Queensland.”

Liberal National Party leader Deb Frecklington slammed the “grim figures”, but said the state was used to being at the bottom of the unemployment table.

“But it is shocking that this state is still performing worse than Victoria where the economy is still in lockdown,” she said.

“These grim figures do not lie. There are now more than 209,000 Queenslanders out of work.”

With the state election campaign in full swing, Labor promised to re-establish Rockhampton as a railway manufacturing hub and pledged $40 million to upgrade the Kirwan medical campus in Townsville.

The government also pledged $27.8 million for renal dialysis in the regions, while the Liberal National Party pledged $67 million for a tropical aquaculture accelerator at James Cook University in Townsville.

Ms Frecklington said the facility will revolutionise aquaculture and create 11,000 local jobs over the decade.

Her pledge was overshadowed by questions about LNP candidate Peter Doyle’s past social media posts.

In them he lauded One Nation leader Pauline Hanson and said he was “on the fence” on whether education for married women was a waste of time.

Deputy Premier Steven Miles called on the LNP leader to distance herself from their candidate.

“Not just because he supports Pauline Hanson, but because he doesn’t believe women should be educated,” he said.

Ms Frecklington said that as university-educated woman with three daughters she did not endorse the posts.

When asked what women’s issues she had championed, the LNP leader passionately defended herself.

“I champion jobs for little girls who actually want to work and grow up and aspire to be something,” Ms Frecklington said.

Mr Doyle apologised, but said he disappointed that Labor wanted to divert attention from economic plans to his old social media posts.

“I have posted material on social media, often as a joke, that I regret,” he said.

“Those comments do not represent my views, but I apologise for them and for any offence they have caused.”

The LNP leader declined to say whether she personally identified as a feminist.

“I identify as a female who wants to get Queensland working again,” Ms Frecklington said.

When asked the same question, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk was more forthright.

“If a feminist is about believing in equality, absolutely,” she said.

Queenslanders go the polls on October 31.

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