Help keep them alive
IT IS difficult to overstate the importance of the Census and the role it plays in informing government policy.
The five- yearly snapshot of life in Australia is a great indicator of how our nation is developing, with economists describing it as their Christmas morning.
For Townsville, the 2016 Census shows life is not improving for many of our city’s lowerincome earners.
Almost 19 per cent of our city’s households draw in less than $ 650 a week, a figure that hasn’t changed in five years.
It is a reflection of our statistically young population but also one of our near- record unemployment, particularly high youth unemployment and the sad modern concern of underemployment, which is people who are not working the minimum 40 hours a week.
Some are also choosing not to seek fulltime employment.
The report highlights the need for urgent action to address unemployment and longterm welfare dependence in Townsville.
Economic stimulus has slowly begun to ramp up for our region but there is a long way still to go.
The platform for growth in North Queensland is and has always been major industrial activity, which creates jobs, but the key driver of industrial activity is confidence.
This is why the current state of Queensland’s power situation is so alarming for the North’s community and business leaders.
Sun Metals, which is Queensland’s secondlargest consumer of power and a major Townsville employer, has seen its power bill skyrocket to $ 70 million a year.
Many much smaller businesses are at breaking point after successive hikes in electricity pricing and these conditions are affecting their ability to grow.
Rattled confidence forces companies to put expansion plans on hold and that stifles the prospects of our employment woes improving.
It is great that affordable baseload power generation is now a national priority.
Governments of all persuasions must not be afraid to choose the best and most timely solution that will bring down power prices as a matter of urgency.
Coal- fired baseload power, as much as it is howled down by progressives, needs to be considered along with renewable alternatives.
Our governments must find the courage to consider what may seem to be unpalatable solutions to what has fast become one of the biggest crises to face business in this country. EAST Africa is in the middle of a food crisis. More than six million South Sudanese people are suffering severe food shortages. Around 20 million people in Eastern Africa are going hungry right now.
In February, South Sudan was officially declared as in famine, which means four out of 10,000 children were dying every day. The crisis is not over, as other areas in the region slip dangerously closer to famine every day.
Yet a new Plan International Australia report examining attitudes expressed on social media reveals a lot of Australians are cynical of this crisis. In some ways, it isn’t surprising because it’s difficult to fathom the horror of a famine until you actually see it, but as a major aid agency responding to thousands in need right now – we feel compelled to correct the record.
One of the most common things we hear is that overpopulation is driving the hunger crisis. We know this simply isn’t true. Conflict is driving farmers from their land, leaving no one to produce food. The conflict is so intense, South Sudan now has the fastest growing number of refugees in the world, even more than Syria.
Some people feel that famine is a perpetual reality in Africa – that’s just how it is. It isn’t. Many African countries are thriving. It’s worth remembering until this year, the entire world was famine- free for six years.
Many feel that donating to agencies responding to the hunger crisis is ineffective because the money doesn’t make it to those who need it most. Let me assure you that it absolutely does. Without donations, we simply cannot feed, clothe, protect and educate thousands of children who’ve done nothing to deserve this fate.
To help the people of South Sudan, visit www. plan. org. au/ give/ appeals/ south- sudan- famine or call 13 75 26. IAN WISHART, CEO, Plan International Australia. For I have come to call sinners, not those who think they are already good enough. Matthew 9: 13b