Poverty line sad re­al­ity for many

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - DOMANII CAMERON

MORE than 18 per cent of Townsville house­holds are liv­ing on less than $ 650 a week, with one econ­o­mist claim­ing the amount could be on or be­low the poverty line.

Fig­ures from the 2016 Cen­sus show only 12.6 per cent of house­holds earn more than $ 3000 a week.

The re­gion’s youth unem­ploy­ment, a re­duc­tion in work­ing hours and the loss of high- pay­ing jobs from the min­ing boom and the Queens­land Nickel Re­fin­ery clo­sure have been flagged as con­tribut­ing fac­tors.

A house­hold was de­fined as hav­ing one or more res­i­dents, with $ 650 the low­est base in­come for the Cen­sus.

In the 2011 Cen­sus, Townsville had the same fig­ure of 18.8 per cent with CPI hav­ing ad­justed the weekly in­come av­er­age from $ 600.

The post­code 4812 had the low­est­earn­ing house­holds, with 27 per cent re­port­ing that they earned a gross weekly in­come lower than $ 650.

Mayor Jenny Hill said the fig­ures showed many peo­ple were on wel­fare.

“We’re try­ing to push for the fly- in fly- out hub ( Adani) and bat­tery plant be­cause they are bet­ter pay­ing than hos­pi­tal­ity and re­tail and the work is reg­u­lar,” she said.

“A lot of peo­ple aren’t see­ing 40hour week em­ploy­ment. There’s a ca­su­al­i­sa­tion in the work­force.”

For 4816, av­er­age weekly per­sonal in­come was $ 484 with 25.7 per cent of house­holds earn­ing less than $ 650.

Cr Hill said 18.8 per cent was a “fair chunk” of Townsville’s pop­u­la­tion.

“Stu­dents would be one thing but we know we’ve had dif­fi­cul­ties in re- cent times and that’s one of the rea­sons why we’ve had to put down­ward pres­sure on rates,” she said.

Townsville job agency U2E Peo­ple CEO Ra­bieh Krayem said many hos­pi­tal­ity and re­tail jobs were not high­pay­ing roles.

“When you look at hos­pi­tal­ity, they’re pay­ing any­where from $ 16 to $ 23 an hour,” he said.

“The era of high- pay­ing roles are ( gone), we’re go­ing back to what I think are more av­er­age ( pay­ing) jobs.

“You’ve also got a very high youth unem­ploy­ment rate in Townsville.”

Adept Eco­nomics prin­ci­pal Gene Tunny said education could be a key fac­tor in lower in­comes in the North.

He said there would be a large num­ber of peo­ple who would ar­gue that given “con­tem­po­rary stan­dards”, peo­ple liv­ing on less than $ 650 were on or be­low the poverty line.

“One of the chal­lenges we’ve got is that New­start isn’t very gen­er­ous and that makes it dif­fi­cult for peo­ple on ben­e­fits to go and seek work,” Mr Tunny said.

“It’s not a great liv­ing stan­dard and you could ar­gue that it is near the poverty line.”

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